Barbora Hermanova happened last year The most inspiring teacher in the Czech Republic. He is responsible for the first grade at the private primary school in Mozaika. According to her, the magic of her success lies in giving students a little responsibility.. She revealed how she does it in an interview for Lifee.cz.
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How did you become the most inspiring teacher in the Czech Republic?
I was nominated by the director of the organization Step by step, which sponsors and supports the expansion of the Start Together educational program in the Czech Republic. I have worked for this organization as a guide and lecturer for many years and teach at Mozaika Primary School. She appointed me because I give children a space to develop their individual abilities. At first, I thought teachers couldn’t compete with each other and I won’t. On the other hand, the justification of my nomination was for me a reward as well as a commitment. The prevailing feeling was that we should not give up on the starting line. So I gave it a try and entered the competition.
So let’s get to your practice. How do you think you have a different approach from other teachers?
I don’t know if I’m different from the others. What I definitely rely on in my practice is a respectful approach to children. This is not possible without a partnership approach. For a partnership to take place, it is essential that the teacher models the situations that lead to it. The teacher must not control the students, he must trust them and give them a space where they can show what is in them. I think that a teacher must be a guide who proposes, motivates, accompanies, but does not impose sanctions. I accompany the children in their educational journey and I trust them on the way they accomplish their tasks, they take up challenges, how they cooperate, how they ask. As a result, I think they are working as best they can. If I think that the child still has reservations and that his performance could be better, his answers, for example, rougher, more precise, then I ask what happened that there was such a change . In short, I constantly blame the child and look for reasons why something is wrong.
Do you grade your students?
The Start Together program is child-facing. He prefers the uniqueness of children, where everyone can be different, and I don’t compare them to each other. The program also allows me not to give grades, so I verbally assess the students. A big part of the program is cooperation, such as working in activity centers, where children can complement and inspire each other. It is a belief that there is more than one team. I believe that a formative approach is a way for children to take responsibility for their learning.
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You talked about the responsibility of the child. What part of the parent is responsible for the child?
The parent is part of the education of the child and must also be his guide. I have to respect how they approach homeschooling, I can’t think I’ll do it again. For example, to make parents more consistent or, conversely, more liberal. I invite parents to individual stages, so we have three class meetings. There, the student brings evidence of his progress in learning, describes it to the parent and the teacher. The parent can ask. We also talk about the conditions that contribute to better child learning. Our parent can also be part of the teaching as an assistant or expert in a specific field, for example his profession. It is a continuous dialogue between the teacher and the parent, at best the student is always there.
How do you approach children who have learning difficulties? Whether it’s dyslexia, dysgraphia or ADHD?
I treat these children the same way. They just need more time to complete tasks, increase homework, or help read it. They need slightly different conditions to handle the task. Someone needs time, headphones, more helplines, another task to do or at the beginning to help with getting started, visualization or maybe a simpler task. I use various tools to overcome the difficulties or immature functions of a child with learning difficulties. Otherwise, the procedure is the same. The objective generally targets the same learning outcome.
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And autistic children?
We also have students with autistic traits. If such a student is included in the mainstream of education, he needs specific conditions, such as clear boundaries, rules or, for example, a plan of what to expect that day. We agree on the process and the conditions with the parents. The advice center report must also be respected. This is done in small steps. This is more difficult if other disorders and difficulties are associated.
Do we have new and more modern opportunities in raising children in today’s digital age? For example, applications or utilities?
To this day, all schools and their staff have to deal with it, regardless of the digital literacy of the teachers. The aim is to develop children’s digital skills. For example, many schools and teachers are looking for programs that can help with the use of digital technologies in science or geography. It doesn’t have to be just in computer subjects.
And especially for you?
For example, we use various robots, coding, programming. For example, Professor Hejný’s mathematics has many tasks related to computer skill outcomes. I also think that educators also work to make the school environment safe for teachers and children, for example in the form of supervisors, facilitators and mentors who can create an atmosphere or help with the vision of the school . If the teacher is eager to work and is a partner with the students, I believe they can support the children’s desire to research, learn, experience and discover the world around them.