Ukraine is made up of both tiny, remote villages and big cosmopolitan cities, and although a teacher’s day would differ a lot depending on their location and conditions, we all have a lot in common.
We all have great expectations for the future – there have been a lot of positive changes in the Ukrainian system of education, which has driven this. This national strategy is called "New Ukrainian School", and its purpose is to make learning enjoyable and student-centred, to turn away from making students memorise dry facts and figures to instead develop their critical thinking, 21st-century skills and global competence.
We are all learning to find a balance between knowledge and soft skills, and want to make sure we prepare students for both tests and for real life. This means that we’re continually developing new, innovative teaching methods. So every day is filled with new experiences.
I live in Kropyvnytskyi, a town in the centre of Ukraine, and teach in a state school called Taras Shevchenko Himnazia.
My typical day starts at 6.30am with a cup of coffee and the world news. The majority of Ukrainian teachers are women. So, like most of my colleagues, I usually cook breakfast for my family and throughout the day I try to combine the duties of a teacher with the responsibilities of a mother and wife.
The first lesson is at 8.30am. I am lucky to live just a few blocks away from work, so I usually walk to school, while most of my colleagues commute by public transport.
Listening to music while walking past the beautiful architecture of historic buildings downtown that I pass on my way to school charges me with positive emotions and gets me ready to share them with my students. I always greet them with a smile every morning.
My school days are bright and dynamic. I teach English as a foreign language and I’m also the vice-principal. I usually teach from four-to-six lessons every day to students aged 10-17. Each lesson lasts for 45 minutes. Ukrainian students learn foreign languages in small groups so I usually have 10-15 students in my English class.
At my school, we do our best to develop students’ global competence and to bring the wider world into the classroom. At the lessons we play Mystery Skype (you’re put on a video call with a class somewhere around the world and you have to guess where they are), exchange messages with pen pals in a PenPal Schools collaborative project and discuss important issues with partner classes in Generation Global video conferences. I try to provide real-life communication opportunities for my students to develop their language skills, as well as 21st century skills.
My school is quite well equipped: we enjoy using interactive smartboards, tablets, VR headsets and various educational software. A lot of the educational technology, I and my colleagues got for winning teaching competitions. At the same time, we are aware that some other schools, especially in remote areas, lack equipment, internet connection and even a reliable mobile phone network.
To ensure equal access to quality education for children from all areas, we offer masterclasses and practical seminars promoting successful educational practices to our colleagues from other schools. So, quite often in the afternoon I and my fellow teachers are busy preparing for or conducting professional-development events.
Lessons finish at 3pm, but most students are engaged in after-school activities: they visit sports sections, art clubs, robotics and 3D modelling clubs or dancing studio. Most active students take part in the meeting of a school parliament. Students at our school don’t have to wear a uniform, but on special occasions, both boys and girls wear “vyshyvankas” – traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts. I love such days because our school looks like a giant flower garden. Each vyshyvanka is unique. A lot of them are embroidered by the students’ mothers or grannies with love.
I usually finish my working day at 5pm, but at home, I do not forget about teaching. I connect with my global colleagues via Skype, Zoom or email. I took part in the Global Teacher Prize and there I met a lot of like-minded educators from different countries with whom we collaborate across borders to change the lives of our students for the better.
Hanna Dudich is an English language teacher at Taras Shevchenko Himnazia, Kropyvnytskyi, Ukraine
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