How did the best educators of Serbia of the Zivojin Misic Association cope with the pandemic?

"Those who dare, can. Those who don't know about fear, go forward. "

In the sea of advertising, the conquest of all digital and media spaces, it is the duty of the largest organization of the Best Educators of Serbia, the Association "Zivojin Misic" to deliver a public speech. We are responding with clear optimism and a well-defined direction of where we are headed, what awaits us along the way, and where we would like to get. 

Spring 2020 on Planet Earth will be remembered by all its 7,748,928,918 inhabitants, 800,000 insect species, 8.7 million plant and animal species from 195 sovereign states. Although the "perfectly" symmetrical leap year 2020 promised uniqueness, this was the beginning of the year and spring no one could imagine on the "third rock” from the sun. Specifically, the Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) that has engulfed the entire world has tried to stop everything other than human thought: how to preserve health? Is that right, or is real life still obliged to flow in its course regardless of the diversion?

Let's start from the beginning. What is a pandemic and is it a brand new and authentic 21st century phenomenon? The word pandemic is derived from the Greek words "pan" (sve) and "demos" (people). Several times the world has faced the challenge of a pandemic. Aside from the current Coronavirus pandemic, in the last 100 years, four more pandemics have occurred: Spanish flu (1918-1919), Asian flu (1957-1958), Hong Kong flu (1968-1969) and swine flu. Life, the real and the parallel, has always run independently of pandemics, epidemics and wars. Children were born, people were dying, fields were cultivated, houses were being built, young people were getting married, children were educated... Currently, the whole planet is in “game”; there are no exceptions, there are differences in behavior, but Covid-19 is above all of us, and the whole world is facing the same challenge. As we attend to the "restoration" of our planet in economic, sociological, political, educational terms, as we change our hygiene habits, while stopping wars, migrations and terrorist attacks, are we entitled to wonder if a normal life has disappeared? What is becoming abnormal these weeks? How is life flowing? No matter what…

At this moment, the philosophical Πάντα ῥεῖ (Panta rei), is not the earthly Πάντα ῥεῖ (Everything flows). It is not clear how much and how we learned from past pandemics and whether we as a human race came out wiser, but it is certain that in all situations children grew up and were educated. Some of them through formal education, but most often it was through life and non-formal education, the way life required them to. How has the Serbian people and the world struggled through the world's epidemics that have marked history? Difficult question; there is no right answer. Suffice it to ask ourselves, what is the role of teachers in the extraordinary nature of the regular time flow?

Today's teacher is faced with physical absence from teaching and the requirement to teach students and "wake them up". Our educators teach us that education in Serbia has never stopped regardless of historically turbulent Serbian history. It has not and it will not. By giving advice, information, by networking with the world, telling fairy tales, cultivating virtual gardens, they clearly show that we can and must educate our children, but also to offer our best solutions to the world at digital conferences, which are constantly up-to-date. What are all the obstacles they face? First of all, the students' financial status, the techniques they have at their disposal, the places in which they live, the possibilities and digital knowledge of both children and teachers, the internet quality, the psychological stability of children, their parents, grandparents, teachers… Nevertheless, despite the state of emergency, educators in Serbia have succeeded in making the teaching regular. Every day, they teach children not only the regular curriculum, but also how to spend and fill time indoors, how to engage their minds, what kind of music they can listen to, what arts they can follow, what kind of manual skills they can develop.  

Today's teacher is working harder than ever. In its own format. His work is now (in)visible. It is certain that education will change after the pandemic. This type of teaching will raise questions about the evaluation of teaching, the position of the teacher, the quality and usability of their knowledge, will valorize or undo old values. 

Where is the Zivojin Misic Association in all of this, and where are our the Best Educators?

First of all, the Association, for the seventh time in a row, announces the competition for the best educators in 2020, which has its own special and authentic part related to the outstanding teacher in the Pandemic era. In the middle of a pandemic, our Ivana Kovacevic (NTP) was named one of the 50 best teachers in the world. (Global Teacher Prize)Within the Global Teacher Prize, Ivana is a visionary. She has developed distance learning methods in an incredibly high-quality way, working with children at home and hospital treatment. She brought together and interconnected the health and education systems. We are proud of her. 

Our teachers have networked and created different educational structures for distance learning. The best educators are involved as lecturers, at the invitation of the RTS Planeta, and enter the students' homes every day through a TV screen. Some of them post logical tasks to us on Facebook every day and ask to be solved, some teach us the importance of literacy on social networks, our computer scientists advise and offer colleagues recommendations and digital tools for distance learning. Some of them tell fairy tales to children every night. We are proud of those who sew the masks and donate them, to all the colleagues who re-enter their rooms and kitchens every morning, turning them into virtual classrooms that sometimes seat up to 300 students. Our Top Educators share the destiny of the entire Serbian education staff and, with each passing day, they push the boundaries and opportunities, both their and childrens’, both technical and online, while remaining creative, special, curious, not abandoning the mission they have chosen - to educate and pave the way for new young intellectuals. Worthy and consistent holders of the title of the Best educators of Serbia, and proud Lightbringers to the mission and vision of our Association. 

That is why we would like to tell you: Education does not stop, our best educators do not stop; our view on tomorrow goes far, it is broad and strategically formulated, just as Zivojin Misic taught us, by which our Association was named.

"Those who dare, can. Those who don't know about fear, go forward. "

Written on April 22, 2020 on World Earth Day 

Management Board of Zivojin Misic Association

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