Until recently, directing films seemed off-limits to women in Spain, but a new generation of filmmakers —Carla Simón, Pilar Palomero, or Paula Ortiz, among others— have broken through that glass ceiling.
Love for education
A creative mind, a friendly personality, endless vitality, and unwavering love for education and children. These are the traits that make up the professional profile of this kindergarten teacher from Madrid, whose daily achievements have led her to win the 2022 Global Teacher Award, a prestigious international award honouring the best teachers in the world.
Every morning, from Monday to Friday, Mirian Galán (Madrid, 1982) welcomes her students with music. “I use music they listen to at home so that the identify school as a safe and fun place; this way they also enter the classroom full of energy,” she explains. Her pupils are less than three years old and every day with them is an adventure. “Although you might have planned an activity, what you do every day depends on how you see them... Sometimes you plan something you’re certain they’ll like, and the opposite happens. We always tell plenty of stories because they’re always a hit,” she declares.
Mirian is a kindergarten teacher in Madrid, but not just any teacher. She’s just collected the Medalla al Mérito Profesional en Mediación [Medal for Professional Merit in Mediation], among other reasons, for being the only Spaniard to win the 2022 Global Teacher Award, recognising the excellence of teachers around the world. She was nominated by a student’s parents, who were convinced that the passion Mirian shows for her work, how closely she interacts with the families and kids and, above all, her talent encouraging them to awaken to a life full of values were enough to warrant her winning such an award.
“The award makes me feel even prouder of being an early childhood teacher. I’ve won, but preschool education has also won,” she declares, emphasising the sometimes unrecognised work of teaching staff in this initial education stage. “The salaries we receive are really low, when most kindergarten teachers have professional training including degrees, master’s, languages... The educational and human work we do should be valued more, since we work with really young children who are developing their personality.” Mirian makes up for this sacrifice when facing less-than-ideal salary and logistical conditions —lack of classroom resources and materials— with an essential ingredient: her unwavering enthusiasm.
You’re the only Spaniard to receive the 2022 Global Teacher Award, does this mean that there’s a lack of brilliant teachers in Spain?
No. Spain is full of talent, creativity and plenty of love for education. And all teachers learn from each other.
“Spain is full of talent, creativity and plenty of love for education. And all teachers learn from each other”
What skills must a kindergarten teacher have to successfully manage children’s potential talent?
Passion for their work. This will allow you to reach your students and their families, who oftentimes also need us. They’re part of my work and my life, just like I’m a part of theirs. That understanding between teacher and family, that closeness, makes the work in the classroom easier.
Is talent born or made?
I believe that everyone has talent, you just need to discover what it is and strengthen it. By observing and knowing little children, you can discover it and promote it. You need to look for activities that match the virtues of each child.
When did you discover that your thing was educating such little kids?
I never thought of working in education. I studied Bachelor of Fine Arts and I wanted to do Advertising and become a creative director, but I didn't have good enough grades and a friend convinced me to study Early Childhood Education with her. I fell in love on the first day. Also, thanks to SuperEducalandia, I can be creative and combine it with my passion for education.
Are you referring to your blog?
It’s not just a blog, it’s a profile on social media dealing with educational issues which I use to try to respond to and help whomever may need it. For me, it’s an educational platform. It reached new heights during lockdown because I organised festivals for families, students, and educators with resources and a lot of fun. I constantly uploaded all kinds of content to entertain people who were going through a tough time. My goal was and is to respond to families, educators, and, above all, children.
“Everyone has talent, you just need to discover what it is and strengthen it”
Maybe it was also a brownie point towards winning the award...
Perhaps. In any case, I think one of the main reasons was being a kindergarten teacher, because it set me apart from the other candidates; besides the reasons given by those who nominated me; that I’m close to families and students, that I encourage reading a lot, and that I do a lot of CPD. But yes, my position on social media with SuperEducalandia also played a role.
In your 20 years as a teacher, how has early childhood education moved forward in Spain?
With kindergarten, we’ve been seeing education progress for years. Nurseries have been closed to open kindergarten schools and they’ve evolved towards more educational than assistance work. As well as the social conviction that children learn the most in those first years of life.
Who needs more training for the future of children: parents or teachers?
In educational terms, we all learn every day: students as students, teachers from students and parents, and parents from their children and teachers. In the end, it’s a circle that we’re all involved in.
“The main educational resource is knowing each child well individually to guide their education as people”
On a personal level, what is Mirian Galán’s method like?
I try to learn new methodologies to bring into the classroom. Although I have my own resources, those born from experience and knowledge of the students. The main educational resource is knowing each child well individually to guide their education as people.
What do you love the most about your work?
The hugs from my students every morning, their laughter when reading a story, the stories from home that families tell me... And, above all, seeing them grow as people.
With which values?
Respect, generosity, responsibility, tolerance, and gratitude... Values that are interconnected, all equally important, and which must be learnt in the first years of childhood.