It is clear to anyone working in education that there is no universal formula that applies to every teacher and every child because, if something is safe today, it is that we live in a world of diversity and that it is rare to find a sustainable working philosophy that will bring the necessary balance to the work of one teacher and his fragile micro-world in which miracles, more often than not, you still say, sometimes by intent, sometimes by chance, still happen ...
5 element philosophy
The first element: a teacher who is continually developing professionally. For years I attended seminars and solely exchanged experiences with my colleagues. However, real seminars are as rare as they are expensive, and training is something that is a commitment of every teacher. With the introduction of new technologies, I have become a member of multiple online communities and platforms where I share experiences with colleagues from around the world, follow presentations, innovations, webinars, conferences, debates, etc. In this way, over the past 2 years alone, I have collected over 500 hours of different professional development, mostly through the eTwinning portal, which offers many opportunities for collaboration and professional development. I have participated in over 30 bi-weekly events and collaborated with colleagues from all over Europe, once and as a lecturer at TED on the topic of working with parents. The knowledge I gained in this way goes beyond what I had secretly hoped for. I have learned about many teaching methods and approaches, useful applications, educational software, didactic tools… I have made every effort to apply every innovation in teaching and can say that it is an unreal experience, very valuable to me because it comes from colleagues from developed countries with a lot of experience that we strive to learn from.
Second element: a student empowered by his or her teacher to use ICT for educational purposes freely and safely. One of the newest methods in the world I liked is self-regulated learning or child-friendly teaching. Learning is increasingly being treated as an active, constructive, self-regulated process. Through the education process, students should become aware of their own thought process, trained in strategic behavior and in directing their motivation towards desired goals. In order for students to gradually become independent of the teacher, as the subject of external regulation, they need to be motivated to participate actively in the teaching process. Therefore, research in the educational process is increasingly focused on enabling students to self-regulate the learning process. Taking responsibility for learning requires the active involvement of students in initiating and managing their own learning process, using appropriate learning strategies. One of the basic strategies of this method is resource management. There's a rabbit in that bush! This is exactly the new path of further development in teaching that I have sought for years. Then I started thinking "out of the box". outside the box / and to finally see the bigger picture and further direction of action. Most teachers make the basic mistake of considering the textbook and program as sacred with no alternative. Only a few years ago, I found out that textbooks are not obligatory at all - it is the teacher who determines whether they will use any textbook at all or whether they will create the material themselves in order to comply with the curriculum material. That newfound freedom gave me wings and widened my sights. New opportunities began to open to me when I realized that the new resources I was looking for were already in their pockets - smartphones! I already had a classroom with a tablet and tablets and now nothing has stopped me from starting a modern way of working with children. I decided that the 2015/16 generation. not to use textbooks and notebooks, but to have all the classes take place online, both at school and at home. First, I created my own site with resources to help me and my children work. Then I made an order at Edmod and enrolled my students - now we had our virtual space to work and when we're not in school! Each department had its own group and before every hour I posted the materials we would use to process or determine the material - tests, dictations, presentations, surveys, quizzes, useful links, even educational games for learning English and typing. In this way, I gave the children enough time to familiarize themselves with the new material from home and to do the input surveys and exercises to see the initial situation. In the class, each through their tablet, we processed the new material individually, in pairs, groups or online groups that we shared with peers from other countries. For example, if we were to handle a second conditioning in class, our homework would be to share our thoughts on "If I was a millionaire" in a group on Edmod with peers from America, Egypt, Turkey, India, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, etc. and similarly. From home, I would follow their discussions and reward active students. There are special groups I have created to support talented students as well and for those who need extra help - additional and supplementary classes. It's quite normal for me to light up Skype and keep an extra one out of my armchair as I get my students ready for the competition. Often we would have Skype classes with peers from the world and work together on topics such as Christmas, school, food, geography, history… Being a member of the Microsoft educational community, I have a lot of contacts among teachers and lecturers from around the world, as well as curators of significant world institution. Thanks to these connections, my students are able to take a virtual trip once a month wherever they want - Yellowstone Park, Seychelles, Florida Aquarium Aquarium, Science Park in India, Thomas Edison Museum, Abraham Lincoln Museum, Coral Reef, dinosaur museum and many other places. I want them to know how small the world is and that everything is available to them today, in the era of the possible. I realized that in this way I empower them best and prepare them for further life. What most teachers make the mistake of doing is trying to go back in time and some of the time that no longer exists - these are kids who have grown up in technology, and I don't see the point of them tying their hands when we can use that same technology and make it work for us. I never dreamed that my children would repeatedly pay me back for my hard work, which, at the very beginning, until we played, was very big. Later, I reaped the benefits of my work and enjoyed watching students who were more motivated than ever, doing homework in never greater percentages, having better grades, and gaining almost all the competencies I could acquire in my class. Their ideas and proactivity have brought, and still do, many projects to the school. I finally got the students to create and run classes, to make meaningful and targeted use of all resources to acquire knowledge, anytime, anywhere. My part of the business is less and less visible, and that's the point, right? All of my former students remain members of the MATURANTI group at Edmod, where they follow my work and consult with me when they need any kind of help.
The third element: a parent who is involved in their child's achievements and activities at school. My philosophy is beginning to take shape with this essential element. In college, I learned a lot about pedagogy and methodology, but I didn't see a place for a parent in the famous pedagogical triangle, and that is very important. In implementing my quiet reform in recent years, I felt a strong need to educate their parents in addition to their students. I thought they were a very important link in my design chain and the only way to gain them was complete transparency in all fields. I exposed my work before them and put themselves in their court because only so they could understand what I was trying to do with their children. It was not easy to explain to parents who were educated in the old system all the benefits of my idea, but I knew that with my work and enthusiasm, most of all, a positive change in children, I would gain. How did I achieve this? I opened the door to my classroom and gave them the opportunity to participate in everything and to follow everything. There are parenting codes that allow parents to monitor their children's work in a virtual classroom at Edmod - so parents have been with us on the same mission every hour. They saw what we were learning, how we were learning, how we were evaluating… Somewhere in the middle of all that I came up with a great application called Class Dojo, which has the form of an electronic diary - in one place all students in classes, absences, delays, compliments and complaints, messages and parental chat, pictures and video from each child's classroom and digital portfolio, all in one place! After every hour, it only took me 5 minutes to complete all of these categories and with one click, parents received a notification on their phones about their children's fresh accomplishments in my class. They had firsthand accurate information about everything, and I provided myself with a great way of keeping pedagogical documentation, constant communication with parents, and motivated students who knew their every move was valued and monitored. I was on a horse now!
The fourth element: support for colleagues. After the first three elements, everyone would be satisfied, but not me. I knew that I was "sticking out" and that my work was open to my colleagues' eyes and at no cost did I ever want to resent it because I respected them too much, even though they would not believe me. Inertia, obviously of good people and teachers, freaked me out, which I couldn't change overnight. My biggest wish was to open their eyes to see what I saw now - I wanted to share my newly acquired "powers" with someone. The mere feeling that you have some secret power is not so fulfilling unless you share it with someone, and that was what I wanted - to hand over the baton. I started inviting them to my test classes, but the response was poor. I would have mentioned something in the conversation, but there was no feedback. Then I remembered collaborative teaching - the perfect way to get your colleague into new streams and infect him with your own by positivism. I started taking co-teaching classes with colleagues in all subjects, I didn't choose, I didn't care. The only thing that interested me was reaching out to as many colleagues as possible, and it worked at the beginning. The enthusiasm was there, they understood the benefits of what I was talking about, but they were still afraid, most of all ignorance of computer work and language. Then I went to phase two of my plan: take away every excuse! To do this, I had to give all of myself and all my time. I stayed after classes, came early, attended their classes to give them support in the digital classroom because they were afraid of new and expensive equipment, but I didn't care. I was there for each of my colleagues whenever he needed help and I would always let them know that I was not difficult and enjoy it, trying never to be arrogant and thus drive them away. As for the language, I thought of that solution as well. I started giving all interested colleagues free English classes on Thursday evenings from half past 8 to half past nine. Twenty of them appeared in the first class! My happiness was not over. And so it went on, mic by mic, I pushed with all my strength in all fields, but I didn't find it difficult when they came and asked something because it was a sure sign that I was moving slowly. With the start of the new school year, they began to drop out in the English language course and now it's a far smaller number. I had to learn how to accept defeat sometimes, and this is very difficult for me. Smarter than me they say it is a success to change one man too, but it is a small consolation to me. I simply realized that in a profession where constant change is needed, change is the hardest thing for most colleagues. I have not given up, I am still struggling, but I am sad that I still do not see in our schooling that critical mass that can bring about true change.
Element Five: Supporting the School and the Local Community. We do not live in a rich and orderly state. Allocations for culture and education are minimal. It is inevitable that every school needs the help of the local community. Fortunately, in smaller environments like mine, this support is easier to obtain because everyone is directed at each other. Where are we as teachers and why should this concern us? Most believe that they are underpaid and that their job is not to create better working conditions for themselves and others in school, but that it is solely on the state. I do not agree here. I think, as a nation at large, we lack the healthy dose of entrepreneurial spirit that Western countries have. For too long, everything was served on a tray and the state, after college, was responsible for securing each individual a future when he waved his diploma - a job, an apartment, a good standard. I used to love American films, but I didn't see such a value system in them. I was educated to appreciate every penny and not be ashamed of honest work, even if I wasn't paid enough for it - a work ethic and a healthy attitude to material things is vital in children's education. Then why don't we older people listen to our own advice and show those same children how much power they have in such thinking. What bothers me most about children is the pessimism that comes from parents - that it is impossible to change anything and that fate is not in their hands, and the culprit is always someone else. There has been a lot of talk in recent months about introducing entrepreneurship as a subject or through specific subjects, both here and in the world. I have personally participated in several European seminars where entrepreneurship has emerged as a topical topic in times of global financial crisis. Then what can we do here? My view is that progress is possible even in impossible conditions. If you change at least one little thing in your life every day, you are already on the path to healing in every sense. Also, if I were to change something in my cabinet every day, wouldn't that cabinet, by definition, get better with a couple of pots, a curtain, a painted chair? I am fascinated by people who have been working in the same work environment for decades and it has never occurred to them to change anything. We need to understand that change is everyone's responsibility, and that one exterior change is brought about by change from within us and our students. It is a fact that students do not care much about school inventory and that most classrooms in Serbia are in very poor condition. So was my classroom after 10 years without brushwork and renovations. I did not want to wait anymore and I went into action, found sponsors, I smoothed, sanded, painted, painted for three weeks without interruption during the summer break. From the dilapidated classroom, I made the most beautiful foreign language cabinet in the country. I didn't know how, but I knew I had to do it. It's been 3 years, and in the cabinet every thing is still like after the barking. Why? Because the students played ball in the schoolyard every day while I was working nonstop and they saw what I was trying to do, and they knew that I was not doing it for my own benefit, but for their own sake, because of the school, the whole local community. The kids showed what I always knew, which is that they can appreciate work and effort and everything is of public interest and for the common good. It's just us adults figuring it out.
Dear reader, This is by no means a broad application, but the philosophy of a lone freak that makes sense to him. I hope that there are at least 5 of these elements that we will agree on. And then ... then we're on the lookout for something, right?