Open lesson from best teachers

Inessa Zubrilina, an English language teacher from gymnasium #1 in the Mogilev Region’s Dyatlovo, wins Teacher of the Year of the Republic of Belarus — 2011 contest

Ms. Zubrilina has won the ‘Crystal Crane’ prize and a ‘Lada’ car, presented by the President of Belarus. After the official award ceremony, Alexander Lukashenko chatted with the contest’s finalists.

Ms. Zubrilina’s family has 14 teachers. Talking to journalists, she admits, “I grew up at the school desk. From childhood, I imagined myself only as a teacher.” She believes that today’s schoolchildren differ drastically from her own generation, being more mobile, advanced and able to quickly master modern technology. Teaching at higher levels is a real challenge, since the volume of information doubles every 18 months and old knowledge quickly becomes obsolete. Teachers must keep up with the times and Ms. Zubrilina’s knowledge of foreign languages and the Internet helps her greatly. The teacher admits that she finds foreign sources useful in preparing her lessons.

As ever, a love of children is essential in the teaching profession, as Ms. Zubrilina and her colleagues note. Dmitry Shits, the Director of Polotsk secondary school #18 (named after Yevfrosiniya Polotskaya) tells us that he missed work and chatting with children after spending two weeks away, attending the final round of the contest, held in Minsk.

Mr. Lukashenko recognises teachers’ passionate devotion and the value of an artistic approach, being a graduate of the Pedagogical University himself. Addressing the contest’s finalists, he recalled the words of academician Likhachev: ‘Teaching is art. A teacher addresses the human soul not via music, as a composer, and not via paint, as an artist, but directly, educating through their own knowledge and love and their attitude to the world’.

Like all professionals, teachers are concerned not only by lofty ideas but by daily routine. Speaking about salaries, the President noted that, like doctors, the best teachers should earn much more than the average. “I support the idea that the best should be encouraged,” stressed Mr. Lukashenko.

Other topical issues were tackled during informal talks, such as teachers’ prestige and the burden placed on school staff. The President considers that experienced teachers should not be forced to retire on achieving pensionable age, being allowed to continue if they wish.

Teachers also shared their private hobbies and interests with the President, reading poems, and talking of their passion for fishing, diving and ‘Formula One’ racing. Mr. Lukashenko announced that it had been a true pleasure for him to chat and that he felt inspired. As he admitted, our country must have a bright future at the hands of such teachers.

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