Primary School Teacher. Life Experience

(Interview)

Karabut Maryna Platonivna is a primary school teacher with 40 years of experience, and my lovely grandmother.

– Hi! So, let’s start with a simple question about where you studied?

– After 8th grade, at the age of 15, I entered the Dubnivska Pedagogical School and graduated at the age of 19.

– How did you get to school in the village of Strilkove in the south of Ukraine?

– Previously, there was a distribution, teachers, doctors were scattered throughout Ukraine. So, in June I had to finish my studies, and in March the distribution started. My female friend Valentina and I were the first in the line to the director’s office. We went in, there was the head teacher saying, “Well, girls, if you are the first, choose where you want to work.” Valentina and I exchanged glances in unison, “Off the beaten track! As far away as possible!” He smiled a bit, “As far as possible, right? This is the Kherson region, Genichesk district, will you go?” We got agreed cheerfully, “Let’s go!” We were sent to the Kherson region in the group of 28 people out of 120. Everyone was going to the sea, and only I got to the Black Sea coastline!

– Why this profession?

– First, for me then to be a teacher was such a “blue dream”, and secondly, it was 1976-77th year, I  was an ordinary village girl (Marina Platonovna lived in the village of Stavok, Rivne region), who was 15 years when she came to Kyiv. And that was more than 400 kilometers from her home nest. Especially I liked it since we knew – rural children – that a teacher and a doctor were respectable professions. By the way, my class teacher was Valentina Ivanovna Shevchenko – a ‘Teacher from God.’ I respected her so much and she was so dear to my heart that I had never dreamed of anything else.

– How old were you when the idea of becoming a teacher struck you?

– I was in the 5th grade, then I had a dream, which I realized.

– What is the main advantage and the main disadvantage in this profession?

– Plus, if you love the profession, you love children, then you are a happy person. If you can teach a child to love himself in learning – you are the happiest person. You see – I’m already 62 years old, and I haven’t burned out yet, I’m still interested in every child taught by me. I have a lot of them, and I know what prevent somebody from moving forward at, how to push them, how to ignite them so that they would want to learn. You can teach a bear to ride a bike but to give a thirst for learning, to light them – this is the most important thing.

And the main drawback — we have the state that has never appreciated us highly. I mean teachers. We raise a kid from a child to an adult, so that today a child wants to learn the primer, tomorrow he wants to know algebra, being 17 years he seeks where to work because this job is gorgeous and that job is really radical! Teachers instill a desire to know the world. Everything starts with school. You know, children used to be polyglots, I used to go to the library every day as a child, you can imagine.

– Did you study well at school?

– I was an excellent student! I had two teachers in the first grade, they taught me not to earn even B-grade (four) for the rest of my life. For me, it was below my dignity and below my capabilities. Just only A-grades.

– And what were your favorite items?

– Ukrainian literature, Ukrainian language, history. Well, out of competition – physical education, so all competitions, district, regional – it was mine, biathlon, shooting, marathon, basketball, volleyball – it was mine. For as long as I can remember, I ran, jumped, and shot. In winter I played hockey, in summer I enjoyed football.

– Do you remember your first lesson in life?

– “I remember. I was in the first class – 36 students, next day I was supposed to get the first lesson, that day I opened the primer and my head was empty – I did not remember anything. You know this feeling – when you study exam tickets for a few days, when you stand in front of the door with a teacher and your head rings empty… Such feeling I got. Then I sat down, looked through the material, looked at the pictures, calmed down, thought, “Oh, yes, I know everything.” And I don’t remember how the lesson passed –everything was in a fog, I had to see everyone, and in the beginning I could not do it…It comes with experience when you stand at the board and have your eyes on your back, when you can’t see but know what each student is doing. Once Vlad Subota was surprised, I was standing writing the number of class work and saying “Vladyk, get out from under the desk!” “Marina Platonovna, you look at the board, how do you see me?” That’s when the real teacher begins.

– When did this start for you?

– This happened when I typed the second set of exam answers because I taught the first one and studied on my own. I sat until twelve at night writing notes, I got up at 5-6 in the morning and prepared additional material.

– That is, how was the practice?

– Yes, you understand why I say that the first set passed like in a fog because when you teach a first-grader, you need to know how he should get out of elementary school, I needed to see what the result should be, and I didn’t know that yet. Then I taught and studied myself. And when I had my graduate girls, when they came from the institutes, Natasha Dobryanska – my first student – she is now a teacher, Lilya Khudyak, and when they came to me with square eyes, shouting what to do, this topic did not go, I said to them, “Sit down, now we will puzzle it out.”

– So you also taught teachers?

– I led the school methodological association of primary school teachers, the district methodological association. When they started studying logic as an optional subject in 1999, it was almost underground, because they used the Russian program because our program on logic was only as a project and still imperfect, it is still no, by and large. It is overloaded with theoretical material, and children need to be given tasks, tasks. And when Rostock came along, we squeezed it in as an elective, as oral assignments in class, and as logic. Then, when the open lessons were held, the headmaster came, and my children at the height, came the second time, and they were at the height again. Then they asked me what I was doing with them? They said, “This is the logic I follow optionally – children learn to think. And they know how to think. And our program gives only skills, and the ability to think, it is necessary to get out of the skin to convey to the child.” And then the headteacher of the district methodological association of primary school teachers called us here, gathered the whole district and showed it. Then I took my fourth-graders, put them and teachers from the area next to me and gave the same logic tasks. I heard one of the teachers already muttering to himself, “Oh, we need to remember the university program,” and my children were sitting and scribbling the right answrers. That’s why I love Rostock so much, and I love the Intellect of Ukraine program even more, it’s even better, smarter, but it’s for gifted children. Those children who study on 7-8 points on “Sprout” are 11-12 on the program in usual school. And so, for some reason to teach children it is necessary to study all life – without it, the teacher is zero.

– Is there an ideal student? Was it like that in your practice?

– And do not look for the ideal. I had a lot of them, every child has potential, just one child wants to learn on their own, and another should be encouraged, not to push her with the phrases “my mother said not to return home without twelve.” I never liked that careerism had been condemned before. And I think there should be careerism in school – career children. These are those who have a thirst for knowledge, those who will enjoy the process of acquiring knowledge. I always went beyond the school curriculum and it was interesting. I had this method, I called it a “microphone”. This is a monologue. It is difficult for children to build a monologue – it is difficult for everyone. I left 5 minutes at the end of the lesson, each time a new student was preparing for the performance and 5 minutes were given for his or her eloquence. He or she chose the topic independently, they were no longer afraid to talk. So I introduced this method, then I became uninterested, for me it has already been tested and you need to try something new. I was never calm, I needed to know, to search. All people go home from work quietly, and I think what else I can invent.

– By the way, when you come back home, do you think about it?

– I think about children, about work. I analyze how the classes went, what problems arose, and how to solve them so that the child was easy and clear. I’m afraid to load a child so that he can hate learning, I want children to learn with joy. The edutainment trend is really good. Because learning with hatred is Hell, why do children do that, they learn in two shifts anyway. We come back from work and forget about it, and the children still have to do their homework. Why are they so punished? Therefore, if without it in any way, let the child at least do it with joy.

– How to deal with bad behavior?

– There were children and very nasty. I was looking for a reason for this. If he is just capricious, then there is time to be so, then he should not have time for it. He became my ordinary pupil, that’s what I called them. Today, Seryozha helps to hand out notebooks, and small children were ready to do anything to give them instructions. Tomorrow I ask to line up everyone in pairs at the door to go to the gym, that is, he became an assistant. Secondly, if I see that it does not help, there are children who are very much in love with their parents, so much so that he is God and king at home and he behaves in the same way in class. I put him in a situation where there were children he wanted to be like. I had Kyrylo Chebotar, he painted very well, I praised him, he said, “You can draw so well, let’s help Sirozha.” It turns out that Seryozha is not the first, he is already listening because now it is not he, but Kirill who is in charge. It is impossible to humiliate. Humiliation kills the individual.

Well, thank you for answering every question in such detail, I was so interested that I have already wanted to try myself as a teacher.

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