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Primary school teachers share what they learned from their first teachers

We all know how important the first teacher is for a child in school. As the Open Doors Day approaches for preschool and primary classes in Vilnius and Kaunas, primary school teachers Dalia Valaikienė, Daiva Jankauskienė, and Rūta Gudynienė talk about their first teachers and their influence.

For Daiva, her first teacher even inspired her to become a primary school teacher! “From the first grade, I knew firmly that I would grow up to be a primary school teacher”, says D. Jankauskienė. “Not only did I want to, but from the ninth grade, I deliberately and consistently prepared for it: every summer, I worked in kindergarten, and when I entered Šiauliai Pedagogical Institute, I chose to write an essay on a free topic ‘My First Teacher’ in the Lithuanian language exam.”

Daiva recalls that her first teacher was amazing: “I remember how a group of children used to run to greet OUR teacher. At that time, classes were huge, with 30–40 children, but she noticed everyone, knew how to talk to each one, encourage them”, Daiva Jankauskienė, a methodologist for preschool and primary school teachers and the coordinator of primary school programs, says that her first teacher instilled in her fundamental values: taught to be friendly, care for each other. “Nowadays, much is said about cooperation, caring – I truly know that these values were instilled in me by MY FIRST TEACHER. Now I teach them to my children.”

Dalia Valaikienė, a primary school teacher and IB PYP program coordinator, also received valuable lessons from her first teachers. “My first-grade teacher was magical. I remember how she walked among the desks whispering something into each child’s ear, stroking their hair. It seemed that at that moment she lifted slightly above the ground, and her blue dress fluttered in the invisible and unfelt wind. Kindness, empathy, warmth emanated from her”, recalls D. Valaikienė.

Her second teacher inspired her to choose the path of a teacher. “She was always ready for unexpected teenage situations, an excellent speaker who taught to question ‘why?’ and always doubt everything, search for evidence, analyze the cause and effect relationship in numerous sources”, says Dalia. “That’s probably why I discuss and analyze a lot with children: emotions, personal growth, phenomena and processes happening in the world. Encouraging positive, open thinking, and collaboration is my main task. I dream that when my students grow up and answer a similar question, they will mention our lessons.”

Remembering her first teacher, a warm and good feeling also envelops the primary school teacher and IB PYP coordinator Rūta Gudynienė. “It seems so many years have passed, but the face and smile of the first teacher have remained engraved in memory. And most importantly, I always felt her support and encouragement. It seemed to me that she believed in me, whether I was good at a subject or not. That belief in a child is one of the most important things in this job.” Rūta is convinced: everyone is talented in some area. “When someone believes in a child and supports them, then they start believing in themselves and their success.”