An Interview with Rogheyyeh Bagheri, One of the Selected Tutors of Read with Me
My Students Have Become More Capable of Learning Compared to Other Children.
Rogheyyeh Bagheri is one of the selected tutors of Read with Me project from Khusf, located in South Khorasan province. Since 2014, She has participated in workshops held by the Institute for Research on the History of Children’s Literature, joined the RWM project and started her activities in this format.
She was selected as one of the 10 best tutors of the program at the First Conference of Read with Me in November 2015 and won the Jabbar Baghtcheban Award which has been recently founded by the Institute for Research on the History of Children’s Literature.
Here, you can read an interview with Rogheyyeh Bagheri, a selected tutor of the RWM project from Sina Preschool, Khusf:
– Introduce yourself.
-My name is Rogheyyeh Bagheri. I’m 33 years old and I’ve been teaching Preschool for 8 years. I have a master’s degree in Quranic Sciences. I’m married and have two children.
– How would you describe the region you live in?
– I live in Khusf which is located in the South Khorasan province. Geographically, it has an arid climate; but regarding its people and culture, it is the center of manner and culture and the citizens are decent people. The noble families of Khusf are supporters of literature and arts. People have an average quality of life, in other words, they are financially in a convenient place.
– How would you describe yourself as a responsible person in this environment?
– I do my job the best way possible. First of all, I perceive God as someone who watches over my work. Children are very good and pure. The more you serve them, the better the results are. I have participated in many different courses related to my job and teaching Preschool. I present my learnings to children according to their needs and based on a precise and specific schedule. Since a lot of children in this part of the city are from less fortunate families, I have tried to educate these children the best way possible without any tuition fee. Therefore I accepted these children and educated them as well.
– When were you introduced to the RWM project?
– I was acquainted with the project in 2014, and it has continued until this moment.
– What has attracted you the most in Read with Me project?
– The first thing that attracted me to this project was the manner of the experts that had come from Tehran. They were very warm, sincere and kind. I have participated in many different courses regarding teaching Preschool. In many of them, the trainers didn’t show up because some of us tutors had not paid for the course. This was something that really attracted me to the project. Moreover, this program was free and its educational workshops were very useful and effective. When I compare this program to my previous experiences, I see that this program is really interesting. Actually, I was one of those tutors that never knew how to make crafts. But this program helped me a lot and made me more self-confident. I was truly scared whenever I had to participate in a course held by the Department of Education, in which I had to use scissors and make crafts. Because of this fear, I didn’t do such activities at all. When the RWM workshops were held and they gave me a pair of scissors, I wanted to leave the workshop, because I am truly afraid of working with these tools. But at the end of the workshop, I asked: Was that all?!
– How have the children changed before and after implementing the RWM project?
– In the first year, I was not exactly familiar with the project. I only read the books to children, but in the second year, I was more interested in the project because I had reviewed it once. I used the illustrations of some books for Screen Reading (a type a traditional theater in Iran). I read “Rosie’s Walk” for children using this method, which had, of course, better results.
The educational books have limited subjects but we develop these subject with the RWM books. After implementing this program for my students, their self-confidence has risen. They have also improved in speech and doing different activities. For example, they can now hold the scissors and easily work with them. They have become much more adept in fine motor skills. For example, the activities for the book “Elmer the Patchwork Elephant” require working with scissors and cutting papers.
Another change in the children after implementing this project is that their sense of learning has been activated. Now, our class is not just a class but a workshop in which the teacher also learns a lot of things. I teach my students and also learn from them in the class. Sometimes, these children even teach their mothers. When I read a story to them, after the class they put themselves as the characters of the stories. For example, I had a student who had lost his father and after a while, he lost his mother too. The books of this project helped me accompany them in their crisis. Children didn’t have a clear image of death, and after reading books about this concept, they could understand death better, and they even were optimistic about it.
Last year, the father of one of my students passed away. I read some books about death to this student. After that, he told me: “Teacher, my father is dead but as you said, death is not a bad thing.” He had dealt with the death of his father.
Another difference I have observed in my students is that they have become more independent. This independence shows itself in their group works. I think that in the RWM project they have also learned healthy competition; because they work in groups and with cooperation with each other. In my opinion, they have become more capable of learning compared to other children.
– Have you received any reactions from the parents?
– Yes. For example, last year a mother came to me told me that her daughter is very untidy. So I read the book “Good Thing You Are Not an Octopus”. She was the first volunteer to take the book home. Later, her mother told me: “she set her dolls, played your role and told the dolls everything that you had read for her. After that day, she has become a tidy child.” My student had even asked her mother to sit by her dolls so that she could teach this to her mother as well.
The parents have accompanied me in implementing this project. Since I had a lot of students, they sometimes took the works home, for example, the sample of the masks and dolls. This was very effective in capturing the attention of the parents, because this way, they would become updated on the process of the work. So, parents would come to me and tell me that when I read a story to their children, it had a certain effect on them.
– What sort of characteristics do you find in yourself that helps you to perform the project so responsibly and successfully?
– Possibly, the thing that encouraged and helped me the most in proceeding the project, was the frequent visits of the experts. Also, the reports that we had to present to them about the performance of the project in our classes. These reports helped me conceive an ordered plan for teaching in class and know what I wanted to do each session.
Eventually, a tutor has to love children above anything else, love his or her job and also care about the concept of education. Tutors should throw out their personal struggles before entering the classroom. Well, I really love children, I become one them in the classroom and my inner child unleashes. I easily play and make good connections with them.
– What do you wish for the children of our country?
– The children that I work with have different wishes. Each of them wants to pursue different careers. I want them to reach their goals and wishes. I also wish that no child would be deprived of education because of financial problems.
– In your opinion, what was the role of the RWM experts in this project?
– They were very good trainers. Their behaviors and manners were incredible. This was what made us take the work seriously. In my opinion, the visits of these experts and the discussions about education and the workshops of this project have influenced us and the process of our work. For example, the Department of Education has realized that Preschools and some of the tutors are very active.
– How has this project influenced you?
– Very good. Even though the contents of the books of this project were meant for children, they affected me too. In fact, somehow they influenced me prior to my students, for instance, the psychological topics such as anger or sadness. Now I can control these emotions better than before.
– Has the project affected your family as well? How has it influenced your family?
– My family was content about me being involved in this project, they didn’t complain. They also helped me in preparing the crafts.
– Do you have any suggestions, plans or ideas for involving more tutors, teachers and even families in the RWM project or to encourage them to read books and promote reading for children?
– I have done many things myself. Last year in the second half of the year, I established a large library of the Read with Me books. Children liked to borrow books and take them home. At the National Reading Week, I took the children to this library and familiarized them with the rules of libraries.
– Did you establish the library in the school?
– Yes, I used a piece of rope and hung the books on it. Together with the children, we chose a name for the library. I prepared a library card with the RWM logo for the children and I also talked to them about the regulations of libraries.
The children were very interested. They read the books better. They had to read the books in the classroom, they couldn’t take them home, and this led to a healthy competitive environment among them which was very effective.
For instance, last year I only read the Dictionary of Riddles to my students and showed them the pictures. But this year, I came up with the idea to teach the alphabet to my students using the same book. While reading, I tell them that the riddles of today start with the letter “A”. They quickly start guessing and they only use words that start with “A”. Of course, this method has some weaknesses that I’ll try to improve. I also asked the children to go home and find things that start with “A”. A lot of them came up with words that weren’t in the Dictionary of Riddles.
– Mrs. Bagheri, thank you for this conversation.