The teacher who left the multinational for the village school. “The most important thing is that they feel that their opinion matters”

Elena Marinescu brought her entire corporate experience to the classroom and teaches children about empathy, communication and teamwork. He uses elements from nature in the learning process, and when a student is absent, he records videos of his classmates to motivate him to return to class.

Elena sets herself an example in front of the students PHOTO personal archive

After working for more than 15 years in Human Resources at multinationals, Elena Marinescu (36 years old) quit because she felt that it did not bring her the soul satisfaction she was looking for.

Moving from such a career to one in Education is a significant change, but it can be a rewarding one if you have a passion for learning and want to contribute to quality education.

So she chose to become a teacher for “Teach for Romania”, a non-governmental organization that trains teachers and sends them to the most disadvantaged areas of the country, because she wanted her work to have an impact and gain meaning.

Now she teaches through non-formal methods in the preparatory class at the “Traian Lalescu” Theoretical High School in Brănești, Ilfov county, and talks to her little students about kindness and sincerity, offering herself as an example. Elena believes that learning also happens from the inside out, and her students understood that.

“I make mistakes too and the kids have understood that mistakes are natural and they have to accept them and learn from them. In the beginning, when a child made a mistake, he would start crying. I constantly explained to them that those who work also make mistakes. We have thus created a space where mistakes are allowed and normal“, explains the teacher for “Weekend Adevărul”.

Fun learning with elements from nature

Elena uses a lot of elements from nature in her teaching: her classroom is full of chestnuts, cones, acorns, nuts, stones and branches. Students write numbers and letters from grains and beans and practice writing in trays filled with buttermilk and flour.

Learning is only through play, and the young teacher uses these little amusements to make the lessons attractive for the students. “These games combine, for example, math with movement. I also play music for them, and the atmosphere is as relaxing as possible”, Elena explained.

He never misses an opportunity to teach his students in nature. Although she has only been teaching for a few months, Elena went out with the children in a park in Brănești and in a nearby forest, and in the near future she will also go on a trip with them.

Another method he uses is role-playing. Each child steps into the shoes of a student who, for example, offends a classmate and then into the shoes of the offended. They thus shape their behavior as future adults for whom respect, empathy and politeness must be received.

Children love learning the letters of the alphabet with chestnuts and shells FOTP Elena Marinescu

Children love learning the letters of the alphabet with chestnuts and shells FOTP Elena Marinescu

There is no shortage of funny situations: “After they apologize, they have to tell the other child a quality or something they like about them. It often happens that they like the way their hair looks or what the other child is wearing, and they both instantly forget the upset,” says Elena amused.

No hour begins without the daily routine and the alphabet of emotions. Each student tells him how they feel and why they have those feelings.

“I understand his emotion, I validate him, in the sense that he has every right to be angry because, for example, he is hungry, and we are looking for solutions. There are also situations when they have no reason to be upset, and I explain this to them. I think this is the most important thing: to talk to them, to make them feel that their opinion matters”, says the teacher.

School absenteeism, combated with videos

He has 20 children in his class, but every day two or three are absent. In order to reduce the phenomenon, the teacher found an innovative but very effective method. Every time a student is absent from school for more than two days, the teacher records a short video with his students, in which the children shout: “X, come to school! We miss you!”.

The effect is immediate. The next day, the student returns to the bank. The children love it, and now, when they notice that a classmate is missing from classes, they ask the teacher: “Ma'am, let's make a video of him!”.

Children bring their absent colleagues to school with emotional videos PHOTO personal archive

Children bring their absent colleagues to school with emotional videos PHOTO personal archive

Elena also witnessed some emotional moments. He also has two twin brothers in the class, and one day, one got sick. In such cases, both children stay at home, but now the healthy one has come to school after colleagues sent them a video asking them to come back to school. It was the first time the twins were separated.

Corporate experience, classroom lesson

Communication is one of his assets in the relationship with students, a quality he perfected over the years at the multinationals where he worked.

“We have moments of reflection every hour. We talk about what they liked and what they didn't, what they learned new, what they liked from what I taught them, but also from the communication and play with the other children, what they would do differently and what they would like to do learn”, the teacher lists some of the questions that help her find out what level of learning the children are at, where she still has to work with them, and with her as well.

At the same time, they adapt their teaching system so that it is as close as possible to their wishes and in this way the learning is more effective. For example, some people like animals, so he brings books with animals to class, while others are fascinated by dinosaurs, and for them he prepared an alphabet with these prehistoric creatures.

Another element she has made a splash in the classroom is the goodness jar.

“Every time I do a good deed, I put a chickpea in the jar. It's crazy what's happening. Every child is eager to do as many good deeds as possible to fill the jar”, Elena tells with emotion.

Learning through play is basic in Elena's class PHOTO personal archive

Learning through play is basic in Elena's class PHOTO personal archive

When the jar is full, the little ones choose the prizes. They voted to play in class, but even that moment was used by the teacher to observe and improve their interaction and teach them to work in a team, as they will have to do as adults in their professions. they will choose

They love to play a certain role every day. The students are, in turn, the teacher's assistant, the recess assistant, the cleaning knight, the fresh air assistant and the quiet assistant. They seem like funny roles, but they actually have the purpose of mobilizing and making them responsible in what they do.

My goal is to make them love school. I can say that I succeeded because I got feedback from the parents, with whom I have a very close relationship. I had students who would not speak or cry all the time. Now the kids can't wait to come to school, even on weekends, and I think that's the most important thing,” concludes Elena Marinescu.