Principals should always support young teachers, according to the head of Professional High School “Tsanko Tserkovski” in Pavlikeni.
Miglena Zhelyazkova is the principal of Professional High School “Tsanko Tserkovski” in the town of Pavlikeni. She has a degree in Finance and Business Management from D. A. Tsenov Academy of Economics and a degree in Informatics and Information Technology in Education from Veliko Tarnovo University “St. Cyril and St. Methodius”. Professional High School “Tsanko Tserkovski” participates in international and national projects. It is one of Teach For Bulgaria’s partner schools and was recently selected to take part in our new Erasmus+, Key Action 3 project called FIERST (From Innovators in Inclusive Education to Real Scale Transfer).
Your school was selected to participate in FIERST. Why did you decide to apply and how do you think FIERST is going to help the school?
We decided to apply after we conducted a survey among all head teachers at the school. The results showed that ⅓ of our students come from vulnerable communities. We have problems related to high dropout rates, truancy, parent disengagement, parents preventing their children from going to school, aggression and bullying, bad discipline, demotivated students who grow up in orphanages or foster care. This means that our team needs to develop the capacity to work with children from vulnerable communities and this projects is an opportunity for us to do so.
One of FIERTS’s main goals is to foster the exchange of best practices among schools. Can you share some good practices you have tested at your school and the results you have accomplished by doing so?
I started an art club as part of the “Your Class” project and worked with 16 students during the 2017/2018 school year. Seven of them had special needs. We did drawing, decoupage, and paper knitting. Then we sold our art at the Christmas bazaar. Everything was sold out and the students donated the money to provide school lunch for their classmates in need, even though they could have used the funds as well.
Professional High School “Tsanko Tserkovski” works towards providing access to quality education to every student in collaboration with Teach For Bulgaria. In your opinion, how can we make this possible on a national scale?
It would take motivated teachers who can work with students from vulnerable communities. It would also take motivated students who are eager to learn, change, and grow.
What does it take to be a successful teacher?
Successful teachers are dedicated, educated, patient, and fair. Successful teachers are competent and knowledgeable because the requirements for people who teach our children must be strict. Successful teachers love their students and find ways to solve all of their problems. Teachers should also be leaders; they should organize the learning process without stifling students’ initiative; they should teach children how to be confident without patronizing them; they should allow students to express themselves creatively.
What does it take to be a successful principal?
Every principal has their own challenges and their own mission. This is not an easy job. Successful principals have different work ethics but always focus on modern-day education. They need to be sharp; they need to have their own leadership philosophy.
In fact, principals are at the top of the hierarchy, but they should not forget they are equal to their subordinates. They should not forget the problems they faced when they were beginner teachers.
Principals should be able to listen without imposing their own opinion; they should be open to new, provocative, and creative ideas. Teachers should be given the opportunity to realize their creative potential, to express themselves, and to work on their own ideas.
Last but not least, principals should always support young teachers because focusing on their mistakes and tracking how well they work with school bureaucracy is not going to motivate them to stay in the profession.