Loving School

A new friend I made in Goreme, Turkey

Throughout my trip, I visited 7 different schools in Ukraine and Turkey. I saw schools that serve pre-school kids all the way up through high school, and schools that work with kids who are gifted, special needs, or average.  Each school was different from the others in some way. All of the schools that I visited had teachers who really cared and wanted to be there for the students.

A student at Zaporizhya Classical Lyceum says hi

The last school that I visited at the end of my time in Istanbul was the first private school that I saw.  It was very apparent that they had money to get the best for their students.  The facilities were beautiful.  If you watch the video below, you’ll see just a glimpse of their amazing resources — computer labs, projectors, gym spaces, giant chess sets and ping pong tables in the open areas, great food for lunch, etc.  It was truly impressive.  Even more  amazing were the people, who come from all over the world to teach there.  It made me stop for a minute to consider a move to Istanbul to work there.

Don’t worry — I won’t really move to Turkey.  I love my community and my job too much. I feel lucky to work at a school like Innovation Academy that fits me so well, and I don’t think that money buys a good school.  This private school, for example, still has to teach the Turkish national curriculum, and they still need to spend large portions of their time preparing for standardized testing.  In the elementary grades, they are able to do really creative, interdisciplinary work, but once students hit middle school, they need to focus on preparing for exams. Hearing the teachers talk about this problem made me think of our challenges at IACS, trying to balance MCAS preparation and more holistic projects that have real-world application. Some issues are universal to all schools, no matter where they are.

I love working at Innovation Academy, and I am thrilled to go back to school tomorrow after this three week trip.  It’s been a long time and I am excited to see all my students and coworkers.  How many students love going to school? This whole experience has made me wonder, “What does make a good school?”  Is there any universal answer that would be true around the world? Any readers out there have a magic answer? Please share your ideas!

A master teacher and some of her students in Kyiv







Categories: Turkey, Ukraine, USA

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7 replies »

  1. I am so jealous of your experience. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. I love to see what is going on in the world. I am sure that my kids would not believe the video the private school in Istanbul. I can see why people flock to the school to teach. WOW

  2. Wow, that must be cool…
    what makes a good school: I think that students that like it a d teachers that care do

  3. don’t leave Ms. Krakauer!!! IACS loves you and it wouldn’t be the same without you!!!
    about the Areas for Each Grade, do they go there during breaks/free times/indoor recess times? or do they go there whenever they want?
    i think the school in the video looks really professional. did you see the size of that cafeteria?! it’s seems like 10 times the size of ours!!! they must have a lot of students there. and wowza! they even have computer labs!
    this is just a suggestion, but maybe they should introduce some (or a few/couple) middle school works when the students reach the last grade in Elementary School (is it 4th, or 5th?). OR they can have a couple middle school students come in to their classroom, and talk about what you need to brace yourself for when you move on to middle school.

    anyways, this is what i think makes a good school:

    – fun teachers
    – fun and educational activities in every class (games that all students like)
    – fun polls, or fundraisers to donate to
    – nature walks
    – a great playground (not that the parking lot we have is bad, it’s actually great the way it is!)

    basically, what i think makes a good school, is fun and educational games and exercises!! there will still be tests (obviously), but ALL students will love to go to school enormously!!!

    Best wishes!!! 😀

    p.s. thanks for the gifts!! they’re great!!!!!! 😀

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