Sunday, April 22, 2012

Interview with an English teacher

“Teacher knows all the answers on the test and practices pedagogy without fear of arrest…”

When I graduated from the University of Kazan, I was really happy that I completed my studies and finally I’m ready to start working. I thought that I knew quite all about my university, but as a student. A few years later when I came to Italy and began studying at the University of Messina I had an opportunity to learn the changes in Russian higher education system over time by interviewing Guzel Sadykova, English teacher and the head of the Philology Department of the University of Management “TISBI” (Kazan).

- Good afternoon, Guzel Zufarovna, why did you want to become a teacher?
- Well, actually, it was very, very long time ago and there wasn’t a question. Because my mother was a teacher and I finished language school with English language. And actually all girls at that time and I think still now are eager to become the interpreters of the foreign languages. So, that was my choice.

- Who influenced you to become a teacher?
- Yes, there was very young male teacher at our school. He was very handsome and we were all in love with him. The school itself was very good and as I’ve already said before – it wasn’t a question.

- What were you like as a student?
- Our University wasn’t in my native city, so that was the period of my independent life as my personal characteristics I was very active. And I think that I was a good student because I took several prizes as the winner in the pronunciation test and grammar test. Well, I think I was a good student.

- If you were given an opportunity to be in the education sector performing a different role that does not involve teaching would you take up that role or would you continue with teaching?
- To my mind I would be very happy if I had an opportunity to do some interpreting, may be for governmental or some international company. But I didn’t have the opportunities, so now it’s too late may be to think about it. So, I don’t think that I would change anything now.

- Can you imagine what would your students say about you?
- Well, I think that most of my students would say good about me. But who knows?

- Can you describe your ideal class.
- Of course, I like hard-working, industrious students, but that may be not the main features, the main things. I appreciate in my students their creativity, using their fantasy, if they don’t know some words, being able to use also the gestures. So, being creative, having maybe artistic values.

- How it’s possible to encourage creativity among the students?
- Well, we do a lot about that in our university. We use case studies and stage some plays, play games and role plays. We had a party not long ago devoted to magic fairy-tales and students involve themselves in different roles. And they understood that language would help them in their loves and when I spoke to some of my students they said that they remember the participation in that kind of plays.

- What methods of teaching do you use?
- There are a lot of methods nowadays – interactive methods. We try to use them as much as possible: computers, Internet. Of course, we watch the films and then discuss them, we take part in group discussions, but it depends on the level of students, of course. If the level isn’t very high, drilling helps a lot and gives good results.

- So, you use technology to enrich your lessons, don’t you?
- Yes, Internet and other kinds.

- Do you have your favorite students in each course?
- I thought, I don’t. But my students say that I do. I think it can’t be hidden. So there are some students that I don’t know why maybe because they look nice or they are clever enough, but sometimes they are lazy. But laziness, of course, isn’t a good quality, but it isn’t the worst thing.

- What was the most satisfying moment throughout your student teaching?
- Of course, I’m happy and I’m proud of my students when they take prizes in different competitions and when they undergo some kind of interviews for this or that position in their work. And they say that English helped them to occupy some higher positions or to win in this or that competitions. My students very often took nice positions and they are very happy.

- And on the contrary, what was the most frustrating thing about student teaching?
- Oh, when I’m not in a good mood and my students aren’t prepared for their classes, I’m not very kind.

- In your opinion what are your strengths and your weaknesses as a teacher?
- As speaking about my strengths I think I try to know as much as possible and to continue to get know many interesting things, try to get in touch with young people and to know what they want in their life, to remain young, still young, that helps to understand them better.
Weaknesses, I’m not strict enough I think. Because comparing myself with other teachers and comparing the results they get with the same group of students for example, I understand that with some students strictness is the best method, the best thing that could make them work, but I like sometimes this kind of thing.

- So, do you think that strictness is so necessary in the teaching?
- Oh, sometimes, it depends on the course.

- Are you open to feedback from your colleagues?
- Yeah, I think that all teacher in my department, in my chair know that we are very distant with each other and very open to each other and every decision that I take, we take together.

- What are the biggest challenges that teachers face today?
- The lowest salaries. (Laughing) The little money they get.
Well, I think that in Russia, especially, students nowadays come from schools that don’t teach them how to work, to study. Ant that’s why, of course, it’s very difficult make them understand that’s necessary.

- What are you most worried about in nowadays students?
- I’m most worried about maybe how they would use their knowledge they got here, because the life isn’t so easy. And I hope that everything will be good.

- How do you structure your time to manage all of your duties associated with teaching?
- Actually, it isn’t so difficult nowadays, because we have a lot of time, not so many classes, not so many students. And I think that I have enough time for everything.

- In your opinion, what are the qualities of an excellent teacher?
- Of course, higher qualification, good education, the eagerness to know as much as possible, patience.

- What are the advantages and disadvantages of teaching?
- Well, the advantages of teaching in general as I’ve read somewhere as a joke are that the teacher knows all the answers on the test and practices pedagogy without fear of arrest and so on.
But speaking more seriously, I think that the advantages are in holidays – 2 months holidays during the summer and more or less relatively flexible time when you can be more busy during one week and less busy during the other week and you can use that time sometimes with your family, for example, and so on.
The disadvantages? Well, I think that it’s very typical nowadays in Russia to try to teach students as you want and this is not so good.

- Thank you for your answers.

Dina Chashchinova

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