How it all started
Upon leaving primary school, I had a hard time deciding where to continue my studies. I was advised to choose based on my interests. But I was interested in so many things! So, a specialized school was out of the question. I, therefore, opted for a secondary grammar school that offers general education. The last two years of this school I completed via distance learning. The first of those two years I was living in England and the last year of my study I was pregnant with my son.
As soon as he was born, I knew that when it comes to his upbringing and communication with him I wanted things to be different from what my parents, my family, and my surroundings had been used to.
My husband and I were living in the Czech Republic, near the town of Brno, when it occurred to me that I could study pedagogy. I applied for study at Masaryk University in Brno and chose the subject Pre-school and Out-of-school Pedagogy. I was accepted. But, before my first semester even started, we moved to Slovakia. Therefore, I completed my bachelor studies via distance learning which meant traveling to Brno for lectures every Friday. I wasn’t able to find any job as a result of my secondary grammar school education which offered no specific qualification. Finally, I was accepted as a substitute teacher and had a chance to work for several months in a kindergarten. It was a job with full responsibility, full-time and minimum wage because I was at the bottom of the salary scale (along with the cleaning staff).
Later, we moved to southern Germany, where my husband was offered a lucrative job. I commuted to my school in Brno more than 2000 km three times a month during each semester. After a year, I deferred my studies as a result of failing the Czech language exam. The exam had a form of dictation and about 70 percent of students were forced to leave the school because of it. I had a chance to learn all I needed for this exam and after a break, I continued my studies. During this year-long break, I worked (almost for free) as a trainee teacher in a Christian kindergarten in Germany. It was a very fulfilling job and this institution helped me to learn many valuable lessons. In addition to learning the German language, I had a chance to practice the so-called open room concept in a real pre-school environment. The educational system of southern Germany inspired me so much that I decided to base my bachelor thesis on its workings. In my work, I compared it to the educational system used in the Czech Republic. I completed my bachelor studies successfully.
In the meantime, we moved to Switzerland, again for my husband’s job. I looked forward to finally finding a job as a qualified teacher. It wasn´t at all easy, however. Since Switzerland is not a member of the EU, my diploma required nostrification; the process of calling the ministries, paying huge fees, having all my documents translated and officially stamped had thus started. It took eight months to have my education accepted. Meanwhile, I tried to find a job without success. My qualifications for becoming a teacher had not been accepted yet and for other jobs, I was allegedly “too” qualified. Finally, I received a document rendering me qualified to work as a teacher in Swiss nurseries, kindergartens, and the first two years of primary schools. Subsequently, I quickly found a job in a kindergarten located in a nearby town. During the time I waited for the acceptance of my qualifications, I applied for a masters-degree study at a university in Trnava. Slovakia. Again, it was a distance learning type of study. I was accepted, and while working I continued my studies.
Exactly four months after I began working, we moved again. My husband got a job in Vienna, Austria. It was advantageous for me too as Vienna was closer to my school in Trnava and Austria was an EU member, so I assumed there would be no problem with getting a job there. I was wrong again. I planned to find a job in a kindergarten and continue my practical training. In reality, I had to wait half a year while I prepared for an exam in pedagogy which was in German and took place at the Vienna magistrate. This way I was supposed to prove my knowledge of the Austrian educational system and legislation related to pre-school institutions. I passed the exam and quickly found a job in a kindergarten in Vienna. In the course of two years, I worked in about 11 different places as I entered the system as a substitute teacher for an organization that had 250 institutions. Finally, I ended up working in a kindergarten for immigrants where most children spoke no German and had experienced running away from their war-stricken countries. In this school, I was one of two teachers, which is not common in Vienna, and me and my colleague alternated in these difficult conditions.
I need to add that while I wasn’t able to work, I completed several courses and seminars and acquired various certificates related to, for example, Montessori teaching, effective communication with children, or speed reading.
At the moment, I continue my education through a doctoral study at Comenius University in Bratislava. My dissertation work deals with the pedagogical principles of educating children. It means reading a lot of books and interviewing a lot of parents and children. As well as making observations in different kindergartens and publishing studies about education.
Recently I started my own project in a form of a website about pedagogy (well if you are reading this you found it). But I strongly believe that I will return to the „field“ soon enough in the form of my own kindergarten that I plan to open in Vienna.