An interview with eltforum.sk presenter: Jana Chynoradská
by Martina Bednáriková
Some people are passionate about English. Others about teaching. And still others about making the world a better place. Roll all those qualities into one person, add some drive and leadership, mix well and the result is Jana Chynoradská, one of this year’s eltforum.sk presenters in June in Bratislava. Jana’s committed to changing the status quo, although it wasn’t always that way.
SCET: Jana, how did you become a teacher? Have you always wanted to teach? What was your first teaching experience?
Jana: Surprisingly enough, my first teacher experience was when I was 18. After no getting into the University of Economics after finishing secondary school in 1992, I got a chance to teach English at a primary school in Trnava. I shared a week’s load with another teacher and I must admit I loved my classes. I taught ten and twelve-year-olds. My classroom was my castle, my pupils called me “Miss Jane” and we all spoke English all the time. I was lucky enough to have Eleanor Losse – who was doing her gap year here – with me all the time, so my English improved a lot. The following school year, I was accepted to the Faculty of Education at Comenius University in Bratislava. I became a very conscientious student and totally fell in love with English!
My original dream was to become an interpreter and during my studies I had a lot of opportunities to travel and interpret. I enjoyed it until one day I found myself lonely in a Danish hotel room. I started to question whether this was what I had been longing for. No, it wasn’t. I was just an “interpreting machine” that someone else used for their purposes. Although there’s nothing wrong with being an interpreter, I realized it wasn’t for me. That surprised me. And I couldn’t say what I wanted to do instead. I had a need to be creative and express myself. Slowly, I started to play with the idea of becoming an English teacher. But it was only after I finished my university studies that I realized I wanted to teach. I can clearly remember writing a letter to my great teacher, Gabi Lojova – Harmony school’s godmother to, in which I thanked her from the depth of my heart that she inspired me to become a teacher.
SCET: You started your own language school ‘Harmony’ in Trnava, Slovakia. What prompted you to do that? What are the principles or values that make it unique?
Jana: Harmony was established unexpectedly, upon the initiative of someone else. Now I know that it was my unconscious desire to create. Something stronger than my conscious self brought Martin, the first student to Harmony, into my life – he served as the kick off person for everything we know as Harmony today.
We have decided to pursue the way of inspiration that brings us a constant need and feel to discover something new, to create our own works of art, to bring originals to the world.
We have opened up to the people of other nations; we are opening up to those who exist by our side but in their “worlds”. We are ready to learn about the uniqueness of the teaching skills. We hope to establish partnerships that will lead to joy, tolerance, prosperity, understanding and love.
Personally, I have faith to awaken the interest of every human being who I meet as I learn, to find their greatness of spirit. The secret of Harmony is this: I can because it’s my life. I know that if I act in accordance with my conscience, solid relationships will be established and people will grow.
SCET: What is the main purpose of the partnership “The United schools of Harmony”?
Jana: To support other teachers on their journey to becoming managers of their own schools and at the same time unite those schools who want to grow and develop side by side with Harmony.
SCET: When and why did you write your book, “Môžem – I Can”? What’s it about and who’s the book for?
Jana: “I Can Because It’s My Life” is the story of the 10-year path that resulted in Harmony. It’s our message to every teacher/trainer who has to overcome obstacles and dig deep to reveal their abilities and possibilities while travelling their own path of personal development.
To be a teacher/trainer is a gift. It is an opportunity and a voluntarily chosen commitment to grow, develop and to contribute to someone else’s development, to the development of society. To fulfil that mission is only possible when you start within yourself. I voluntarily commit to grow, develop and contribute… It’s up to us, teachers and lecturers, whose task is to mediate the knowledge of the true values in life. It is we who have the potential to uncover these values and become their conscious bearers. The need of the age we live in whispers what to do in order to succeed, to fulfil our life mission. We must be creative and innovative.
SCET: Tell us more about LEARN&LEAD Centre of Innovation for Teachers, Trainers and Managers. What is its purpose?
Jana: To bring the latest information on developments and emerging trends in language learning to those interested. Its mission is to find the most effective opportunities for personal and professional growth of teachers, trainers, managers and the broader general public in the EU.
SCET: In what way do you work with Pilgrims (UK) and GLS (France)?
Jana: Pilgrims has been our primary source of inspiration and even our trainers and leaders since 2007 when I first met Jim Wright, their manager. They represent a unique essence of wisdom, tolerance, inspiration and humanity and have been leaders in teacher-training since 1974. This partnership led to them becoming a key partner in the international “Learn & Lead” (2010-2012) project and, along with our other partner school Global Learning Systems in France, we all set up our human resource departments which we call “Centres of Innovation”.
SCET: How can teachers be a part of a team at an organizational/institutional level and leaders in their classrooms at the same time?
Jana: Well, everything is possible if there is a will. This calls for a change in the mindsets of all the people involved in a school setting. This calls for a change at an organizational level and if there is the will on both sides, it’s possible to create a school friendly to their teachers.
SCET: Do you have a life motto?
Yes, I do. “What the mind can conceive, the team can achieve!”
Jana Chynoradská is an English teacher, teacher trainer, language coach, researcher and the leading personality at Harmony. She specializes in teacher development and innovation in ELT, and is a member of the Leadership and Management SIG of IATEFL. She is also the co-author of AiLEED, innovative school management software. Jana initiates local and international projects developing cross cultural and international networking in ELT. In June 2012, Jana helped set up “The United Schools of Harmony,” a learning partnership with three other independent language schools in Slovakia. In September 2012, the ‘LEARN&LEAD Centre of Innovation for Teachers, Trainers and Managers‘ was established at Harmony in Slovakia, Pilgrims in the UK and GLS in France. Jana desires to inspire others to grow and follow their dreams. She strongly believes in teachers, encouraging them to become both great and relaxed at school and wherever they go.