What is your name, how do children call you?
My name is Irina. My parents named me upon their favorite mountain Pirin.
The children often call me Ms Irinka, Ms Iiinka and My Ms Iiiinka.
Tell us something about your education and experience.
I graduated Sociology at Sofia University and completed a PhD in Early Years Sociology. My experience with young children is both as a teacher and outdoor trainer. I have worked with children 2-5 years in private pre-schools in Sofia, and most recently at the Anglo-American School of Sofia as Teaching Assistant. Nature and its abundant teaching resources have been my true inspiration. I am happy to bring this passion to ICCC since September 2021 when I joined the team.
What is your favorite part of the day as a teacher?
I love surprises. My favorite part of the day is preparing surprise play invitations in the mornings. I love those moments of arrival when children realize that something is different in the room and dive in exploration. Another special moments for me are the weekly walks to the nearby forest. You can hear the happy humming of children. We always find some treasures to observe and many other to collect for our classroom.
What inspires you to keep working with children in pre-school age?
Early years are important for so many foundations for life. I believe that children are curious and
Creative. They enjoy collaboration, they are capable of so much and do care. My inspiration is
to walk and learn with them through those precious early years. And to sparkle some nature and
magic on top.
How do you motivate children?
The classroom environment is my best co-teacher. Besides my wonderful colleges, of course.
Whenever children own their learning spaces and whenever their natural curiosity is supported
to deepen, they always do their best and love to stay focused on their favorite things for
longer. Nothing else is needed but keeping that space open-ended and inviting.
How do you face difficult challenges throughout the day at school?
I see the available resources and all the best in each child. In challenging moments, I ask myself
what is the basic need that stays behind a difficult behavior and how to support that need. The
children are eager to learn as soon as they feel safe and acknowledged for who they really are. I
try to engage children in problem solving as much as possible, too.
What is the best part of being a teacher?
I will share a favorite quote of Rachel Carson to answer: “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” Being that adult for the children is a true blessing. And by all means, I am learning thousands of jokes daily and witnessing thousands of precious moments to celebrate with children.
What sort of morning routine do you have to get ready and in the mood for the class?
When I enter the empty classroom in the mornings, I see it full of possibilities. That is a great start! We greet each other with a hug. Children love to hug their friends. Then they would rush to find their magnet, climb a little chair and place the magnet on the classroom board. This is how everyone says “Here I am!”. Later children choose where to start their work and whom to explore with.
What is your favorite child book/author and why?
My favorite child author is Eric Carle because of his amazing illustrations and because he creates so much space for children’s imagination within his simple nature stories.
What is the most surprising and funny thing you heard about yourself from children?
I will share a sweet recent story. A girl brought her watercolor painting to me as a gift. She was excited to share that she had painted a cherry tree and she had also painted both of us dancing around it.
And one more story:
Me: What sounds would you like to listen during dream time? The waves of the ocean or the birds chirping?
The kids: Play the tractors for us!