14:46 17 May 2024

Solutions from Ukraine: how Ukrainian teachers inspire students to learn amidst war

The full-scale war significantly impacted various industries, including altering the approach to education. However, it did not dampen the motivation of teachers who, despite the challenging circumstances, remained committed to their work in the country. They continue to teach thousands of children daily, instilling values, shaping identities, and fostering a sense of national pride.

Rubryka informs about this.

As part of the national award Global Teachers Prize Ukraine 2024, for which questionnaires are still being collected, Serhii Mishchenko, a computer science teacher and deputy director at the Zorianska school in the Donetsk region, shared his own story. Being in the front-line region, the teacher talked about his challenges and whether it was possible to achieve the set goals, even in such difficult conditions.

Serhii's journey started in 2012 when he graduated from an agricultural technical school and discovered his passion for teaching. He actively pursued his dream by volunteering at the Krasnohoriv school, helping clean up after shelling and contributing to restoring their book collection. Later, he became a librarian at the school and, in 2021, achieved his goal of earning a complete higher education degree in teaching.

"As a student, I began my career as a computer science teacher. I achieved many milestones in my professional development, eventually reaching my goal and proudly proclaiming, "I am a teacher!" Serhii says.

What is the problem?

One of the most significant difficulties was the COVID-19 pandemic. It caused a lot of confusion and uncertainty about what was going on and what to anticipate. As a result, both students and fellow teachers started falling ill, and we had to switch entirely to remote learning, which presented its own challenges.

What is the solution?

But over time, Serhii managed to adapt to the conditions and was the first to master online educational platforms, after which he also taught his colleagues to work with online tools.

How does it work?

"There were many questions, such as what Meet, Zoom, and other platforms were and how to teach and conduct lessons using them. However, we pushed through and overcame the challenges. As a result, my colleagues and I gained new knowledge, developed new skills, and began using technology independently," the computer science teacher shares.

From 2016 to 2021, Serhii achieved several accomplishments, including:

  • Single-handedly renovating and establishing a computer science office;
  • Outfitting the office with state-of-the-art equipment obtained through his connections with volunteers from the United States;
  • Developing numerous helpful projects;
  • Assisting older people in mastering seemingly intricate technology.

In addition, the teacher and the children participated in school, district, and all-Ukrainian Olympiads and competitions.

In 2021, Serhii's school closed due to low enrollment. He then joined Zorianska School as both a deputy director for educational work and a computer science teacher, and he has been working there since. His new colleagues, students, and parents warmly welcomed him, and he quickly built strong relationships with them. Despite the significant changes, he felt reinvigorated and motivated to keep pushing forward:

"You don't become a director right away, but I was clearly on my way to my goal. On the first day, I taught lessons for 10th and 11th grades; before that, they were only for 9th graders. Everything was new around me – the position, the program, recommendations for conducting lessons, and technology. After a week of work, we started to work fruitfully and harmoniously; we resumed attending competitions and Olympiads. After a few months, it felt like I had been working here all this time. The atmosphere at the school was warm and kind," Serhii adds.

The start of February 2022 brought a new challenge for the people of Ukraine. Schools' sudden closure forced teachers and students to take an unexpected break, but after a month, distance learning was brought back. Thankfully, Serhii's extensive experience with online work allowed for the continuation of productive and valuable education. The top priority was to ensure the well-being of the children and the entire team.

Later that year, a tragedy struck Serhii when two shells hit his house, destroying it. The teacher was left without a home and began to lose hope:

"This was my home, my soul. I had a complete lack of understanding of how to live on and what to do, and depression began," the teacher says, "But I was able to pull myself together. What gave me strength? My relatives, loved ones, and the main thing is the students. They knew what happened to me then and wrote many letters of support."

Currently, Serhii and his students are still studying online and have become proficient in using various online tools, websites, and platforms for effective learning. The lessons now incorporate different activities, such as 3D graphics, interactive games, virtual tours of Ukraine and the world, video creation, and working on online boards. The teacher also plans to create a chatbot. The students are still participating in competitions, projects, Olympiads, and exhibitions, just as before. When asked if it is challenging to teach this way, Serhii responds that it is not, given that the children's smiles and eagerness to learn motivate further improvement. This story once again highlights the significance of teachers.

If you know an exceptional teacher whose contributions deserve recognition, consider nominating them for the Global Teacher Prize Ukraine 2024. This opportunity could lead to a million hryvnias for the deserving individual and a highly esteemed award.

For reference:

The Global Teacher Prize Ukraine has been honoring change-making teachers since 2017. In the last two years since the start of the full-scale invasion, the Award has not chosen the country's best teacher, focusing instead on documenting stories of wartime teaching.

This year, the Global Teacher Prize Ukraine returns to the format of a professional award for the best among the best. The main winner will receive 1 million hryvnias for his own educational project and go on a trip to the Global Teacher Prize.

It should be noted that, for the first time, a participant from Ukraine—Artur Proydakov, a teacher of Ukrainian language and literature—made it to the top ten best teachers in the world, according to the version of the Global Teacher Prize.

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