A day in the life of… Maia Tkemaladze

27th April 2018 at 00:00
Teaching in Georgia can feel like an uphill task at times for this English teacher, but a government focus on CPD ensures she is always learning something new

Above my school, on top of a hill, is an 18th century castle. The name of the castle is Modi Nakhe, which means “come and see” in Georgian.

Welcome to Sachkhere, the small town where I teach. It is surrounded by majestic mountains and green fields, and every day I enjoy the marvellous views of the castle and mountains as I walk or drive to work.

The school in which I teach English is more than a century old. It is an all-through, government-maintained school attended by about 600 students from all kinds of backgrounds. Lessons start at 9am and finish at 3pm or 4pm, depending on whether students have six or seven lessons that day. We have three 45-minute lessons in the morning and the rest after lunch.

I teach four lessons a day to students who are aged 6-17. I instruct them in vocabulary, grammar and language skills, using different strategies and techniques to keep my lessons as engaging and motivating as I can.

Professional development is very important at our school. We have a tradition of sharing teaching methodology, regularly observing each other’s lessons and offering feedback on what we see. This is not just a tradition in our school – it is a government policy.

'Everyone is involved in CPD'

All Georgian teachers are involved in a professional-development scheme. In order to move to a higher level and get the status of a senior or mentor teacher, we have to gather credits by participating in different activities, including model lessons, conducting classroom-based research and doing projects. I am currently carrying out research into why there is a lack of motivation in my eighth-grade class.

After the school day finishes, I work on lesson plans or prepare students for language competitions. Many students stay behind to take part in clubs. Our students do a lot of sports, especially football and basketball. My school also actively collaborates with the Peace Corps. Every Thursday, I work with a Peace Corps volunteer to run a wellness club for girls, in which we teach them how to take care of their hygiene, fitness, nutrition, and how to improve their leadership skills.

I love my profession and I want it to be appreciated by the government. One of the greatest achievements in my career was when I was selected as one of the 10 best teachers of Georgia in the 2017 Teacher Prize award.

I can’t imagine doing any other job, but teaching is a challenging profession. That is why so few young people choose to pursue it as a career. When I first joined the profession, I found the job very challenging, but as time went by, I gained in experience and developed professionally. But I am still learning. I am constantly working to keep up to date with new teaching methodology. One of the things I still find hard is differentiating my teaching in a way that meets the interests and abilities of all students, to allow them to reach their full potential.

My school has a very good infrastructure, but some of our students are from economically disadvantaged families, where parents have to leave home and go abroad to work. In these cases, students don’t have a lot of contact with their parents and this, in turn, means that parents don’t do anything to support their children. So it falls to teachers to take responsibility for helping children and making sure that they are not left out, but are given access to resources and education.

Maia Tkemaladze is an English teacher at Sachkhere Ilia Chavchavadze Public School #2 in Sachkhere, Georgia

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