As a teacher with more than thirty years in the classroom, it’s hard to say when the desire for change and for a different approach began to emerge. I think I spent only my first couple of years teaching in an established, conventional fashion, but very soon I found myself researching and learning by trial and error. I’ve always tried to do my lectures differently, to make them interesting and fun to encourage the students to be more active and creative. I was sure, and I still am, that my students best acquire new skills and competences when they, once armed with basic knowledge and skills, engage in research, co-operation and sharing personal experiences. I have come across difficulties, a lack of understanding in my environment, from colleagues. Sometimes it seems that understanding and joy come only from my students. We spent time in libraries, went to shows and exhibitions; the students interviewed writers, actors, made posters (which now seem funny and old-fashioned), held lectures and – learned from each other. And then, in an ordinary vocational school, there were more and more students who, to everyone’s surprise, achieved great success in my subject (Croatian language and world literature) and excellent scores at school and national competitions. “You are so lucky to have such smart students in your class”, my colleagues used to say at first, but very soon the success become something normal and expected, taken for granted. Nobody was particularly interested in how those results were achieved.
And then, after twenty-five years of searching, I heard of “something new” – eTwinning, http://www.etwinning.net/en/pub/index.htm the Community for Schools in Europe, free and safe European platform for teachers, through which they can connect, exchange ideas and develop cooperation through projects. Since I’m more than familiar with the computer for about twenty years, venturing into work via the Web wasn’t a problem for me. (I should mention that even now my younger colleagues wonder how someone ‘at my age’ knows how to send an e-mail). Finally I found myself in an environment where other people, other teachers, understood my needs, thoughts and work. Thanks to Arjana Blazic, Suzana Delic, Lidija Kralj, Natasha Ljubic-Klemse, Rue Baptista, Anne Gilleran, Bart Verswijvel and many other teachers, my world of teaching finally got the right support and purpose, a confirmation that the years of searching and effort were not meaningless. I was no longer alone. Participating in courses, practical work through exercises, the exchange of experiences and learning, learning, learning. I fell in love with Glogster, Padlet, Popplet, Prezi, TeachMeets… I was exploring, practicing, at first by myself and then with my students. We joined projects together with students and teachers from other European countries and soon we were practicing a classroom without walls and learning without borders. My eTwinning certificates … and a little bit of Microsoft
Through a number of courses organized by eTwinning, I learned a lot about the use of Web 2.0 tools, the “flipped classrooms,” a different, new approach to pupils, in the manner of 21st century teachers. I continued to participate in a variety courses, teaching, researching, trying out different approaches in order to optimize the teaching-learning environment.
EUROPEAN SCHOOLNET ACADEMY
Soon I discovered the European Schoolnet Academy, http://www.europeanschoolnetacademy.eu, a platform where teachers can learn about innovations in schools and classrooms through online courses providing professional development for teachers in primary and secondary schools. The courses on this platform are completely free, which certainly means a lot, as our teachers’ salaries often aren’t enough to cover the additional costs. They offer an introduction to the key concepts and ideas that are relevant to the development of teaching practices and provide an opportunity to talk about new ideas.
- Future Classroom Scenarios
- Competence for 21st Century Schools
- Games in Schools
- How to Teach Computing – An Introduction to Concepts, Tools and Resources for Secondary Teachers
- Creative use of Tablets in Schools
- Games in Schools – 2nd Round
And then one day (no coincidence!) appeared Edmodo. https://www.edmodo.com. I use Edmodo to work with students in the classroom and outside of it, to form groups, to exchange materials with other communities and grade quizzes. Edmodo became my new source for better education. The parents also liked Edmodo, but were having some difficulties because not all of them speak English
Then, all of a sudden, something of a miracle happened – Mrs. Vigil sent us a proposal to translate Edmodo to Croatian. With my colleagues, mrs. Darija Dasović-Rakijašić and mr. Tomislav Negulic, I responded to Mrs. Alyssa Vigil’s proposal. Very soon, the Croatian translation took second place (with English taking first) on the OneSky translation list with 100% translated material. What a day! Working together, very hard but with joy, we invested many hours in enabling Edmodo to “speak Croatian”.
I became Edmodo Ambassador! What a pleasure!
EDMODO SPOTLIGHT Then appeared Edmodo SPOTLIGHT, https://spotlight.edmodo.com, another way of exchanging material, data sources. My teaching world had become even richer. In a few years I will have retired. Yes, today I am an ‘old’ teacher, but I’m still learning and I still have dreams. Few of my uploaded Spotlight materials