Award for Educational Innovation "Dimitrije Mita Čipčić" from the corner of one of the Best Educators of Serbia

What does the recognition you received, the award for educational innovation "Dimitrije Mita Čipčić" represent for you?

I can proudly say that there is one more award in the long list of recognitions, awards and charters. This time, it is a reward for the educational innovation in general class teaching which bears the name of a famous primary school teacher from Kikinda Dimitrija Mita Čipčić.

I must admit that I do not experience this recognition completely personally. I believe that it is primarily a reward for all the teachers who work hard and adapt themselves to the new age and new generations of children, and of course, for my family that has always been a great support for each new step I have made. 

The acknowledgement means a lot to me. It is impossible to compare it with other recognitions, because every recognition has its own story, spirit, imprint. It is of great importance for personal professional progress, the recognition that motivates me to continue using modern aids such as mobile phones.

Could you tell us something more about the award and its significance?

The award has been established for the first time this year on the proposal of teacher Desanka Ristić. She presented her idea to Vesna Čipčić, our brilliant actress and daughter of a primary school teacher Dimitrije Čipčić, Olivera Lazić, the headteacher of Primary School "Vuk Karadžić " and to the assembly of teachers, who had supported the entire project. 

Dimitrije Čipčić – a famous teacher innovator who worked in Primary School "Vuk Karadžić " in Kikinda. His engagement, creativity and dedication to the vocation of a teacher was inexhaustible. 

I have learnt from his biography that he is an innovator of teaching methods. In addition to the complex methods of teaching letters, theatres and market, made in the classroom, he wrote class and individual newspapers "Your teacher's word " for pupils and their parents. He had a myriad of publications and he educated his colleagues, giving lectures and presentations of his work. He had an experimental class of 15 first-form pupils, who passed two forms within a year before the board of the Ministry of Education and enrolled in the third form next year. Some of these students attended the award ceremony.

Somehow I recognized my work in the former work of Dimitrije Čipčić and, in my address to the present at the award ceremony, I expressed regret that colleague Mita and I did not live in the same time. Certainly we would have made a bigger move in teaching. The task of a primary school teacher is to be inquisitive, to explore and try out new methods.

• What did Vesna Čipčić say to you when the cameras were turned off? We believe that her support is significant, because she is a child of parents who were teachers and she has been in education her whole life.

After the award ceremony, Vesna Čipčić expressed her satisfaction that I had been chosen as the bearer of the award "Dimitrije Mita Čipčić " and confirmed that if teacher Dimitrije and I had lived and worked in the same period, education would have had people who did not only perform their work tasks but they also created a future through new generations. Vesna is at the end of writing the book about her father, based on the testimony of his pupils and the rich sources of the Pedagogical Museum which keeps the works of a famous teacher.

Tell us more about the innovation, and how you came up with the idea.

The promotion of DEVAR 4D products of the so-called animated colouring books took place in the Russian corner of the National Library in Niš in May last year. At first glance, these colouring books are not different at all from other colouring books for children. Children colour their colouring books with the colours they want. Euphoria begins as soon as the page is coloured and the characters from a colouring book are revived by the use of a mobile phone or tablet through a downloaded mobile AR (Augmented Reality) application. It is a modern technology which extends, i.e. augments the reality of objects by graphics and sounds that are not present in real space. This application transforms a usual, printed book, encyclopedia or a colouring book into exciting interactive experience.

I was elated. I immediately come up with an idea of applying this application to the classroom in the work with children. I chose the colouring book with animal characters, planned an activity, adapted it to younger students and made it possible for them to “revive” their heroes, learn and remember at their own pace when listening to some information and playing.

By touching the joystick, children could move an animal which they were colouring and by touching one of the four diamonds of different colours, they gained interesting information about that animal. One of the techniques of learning is also listening.

The students were thrilled, which was evidenced by the atmosphere during their work and the impressions they had after the work - evaluation. Mobile learning allowed students to learn lessons through the game at their own pace in a way and as many times as they liked.

The class was implemented as a class test attended by: the parents of students, headteacher, assistant to the headteacher, fellow teachers and two teachers of the English language. I was satisfied when, after the class, my colleagues expressed their wish to do something similar in their classes as well. Given the goals of teaching, I think that by using technical possibilities we can be more efficient, because the whole world has become mobile whether we wanted it or not. 

Who was on the jury?

The jury members were Želimir Popov, MA, a former adviser to the Minister of Education, Gordana Rackov, PhD and primary school teacher Desanka Ristić. The jury made a decision unanimously. Three works were included in the base of works and they can be seen on the website of Primary School "Vuk Karadžić". I have also been selected as a member of the jury for the next year as the first awarded teacher innovator.

How did colleagues react? Since when did you get the most support?

The reactions of my colleagues were very much positive. I received sincere congratulations and great support from the headteacher of the school where I work - Tijana Ranđelović, former and current students and their parents, and, of course, from those whose support signifies to me the most - my family members. When I look back 27 years ago and remember all the implemented activities, preparations for them, sleepless nights, I come to the conclusion that it is not simple to live with me. No matter how hard I tried not to interweave my private life with my job, I only manage when I do not introduce my private life into the classroom. The other way around does not work. A teacher is a teacher wherever he is - at school, on the street, at home.

How much does your life change with all the rewards you receive, and how much does that give you motivation for further work?

The rewards come and pass. I do not have time to take delight in them for a long time. Students and the work with them cannot wait. A new day – a new challenge and opportunity. I am still impressed by the recent event in Kikinda and I have already been given the charter by the NGO the Oasis of Knowledge from Podgorica (a non-governmental organization that promotes natural sciences and literature) for successfully implemented ecological activities with pupils.

All prizes, to my profession and myself, represent encouragement and proof that success is feasible and possible if you are committed to your profession in the right way. I will agree with the fact that richer and larger environments are a more suitable base; it is easier to work in them, but the teacher can overcome all disadvantages by his knowledge, intuition and will if he has them. Therefore, our profession must not have the justification for all that is missing. Our responsibility is as heavy as the responsibility of the whole society.

Finally, I would like to emphasize that the Zivojin Misic Association has provided me with great motivation for the continuation of work, work, commitment since 2014. That encouraged me, strengthened me and restored my faith that all the above is still valued, that there is no stopping or giving up. There are those who will recognize, praise and reward dedication, effort and work.

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