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Teaching High School in Croatia (by Arjana Blazic)

To teach is to touch a life forever.

I have been trying to enhance my teaching with the new technologies since 1997 when I created my first web page while attending a seminar on New Technologies in Modern Language Teaching in Finland. But everything I did over those twelve years was nothing compared to what I have been doing since I joined Twitter and built my PLN in April 2009.

Today my students and I use technology to connect with students and teachers from all over the world. We tweet, we ning, we skype, we glog, we wiki, we blog … we learn, we understand, we respect.

While at my school there might not be many teachers who pursue new technologies, there certainly are many who lead a wide range of after school activities and dedicate a considerable amount of their free time to their students. Our principal likes to say that we are an extra-curriculum school, but she strongly encourages the teachers to connect with the students outside the classroom.

So on the one side we have these enthusiastic teachers who do extra work for no extra pay, and on the other there are students who participate in these activities not because of grades, but because they want to make a difference. What we get are excellent results in sports competitions, creative achievements and voluntary work.

The school’s basketball team has been Croatia’s school champion for years, handball and football teams boast excellent results, tennis and badminton players are on the way to the top and our swimmers have won lots of medals. The dance group “Big Deal” (their PE teacher is called Mrs Diel, hence the name) is invited to all the major competitions in Croatia. The Girls’ Choir has a long tradition of participating in different European competitions and last year they won silver medal at the Bratislava Cantat Festival. The members of the Debate Club regularly participate in teenage panel discussions. The Film Club won the first prize in the Croatian Teen Festival last year. We’ve organized a number of exchange projects with schools from Europe and the US. Our students go on field trips to different parts of Croatia as part of the project “Travel & Learn” on a monthly basis. Fundraisers are a common practice at my school. Last year we bought a mini kitchen for an orphanage, the year before it was a washing machine. The members of the School Volunteer Club play with toddlers in the orphanage and help out in a homeless shelter every week. Students learn French and Croatian sign language together with their teachers. Once a week they gather in the school’s basement to make wheel thrown pottery. In December, students show their creativity in decorating the school’s corridors and on Mardi Gras, a little bit of silliness in the classroom is a welcome break from hard work and seriousness.

The positive connections between students and teachers that we managed to establish contribute to students’ better classroom achievement and their personal growth. The students, provided with support and encouragement from their teachers, feel empowered to make a difference.

I feel greatly honored to be a guest blogger on this blog, especially because Barbara and her textbook series Let’s Go made my sons fall in love with the English language. Thank you, Barbara!

My name is Arjana Blazic and I’m an English and German teacher from Zagreb, Croatia. I’m committed to lifelong learning and I do it with great joy. I’m an avid user of new technologies and one of my major goals is to teach my students how to take advantage of all the possibilities that technology-enhanced learning can offer. I blog in English and in Croatian. You can find me on twitter and join me in my award-winning wiki Greetings from the world.

8 Comments

  1. Barbara says:

    Your high school sounds like a wonderful place for students. I wish I could drop in for a visit. Thanks for including the animoto, so that we can all get a little peek at the extra-curricular activities you mention.

    I love your wiki, too, and love to introduce teachers to it in workshops.

    And, you made my day by mentioning that your boys had used (and liked!) Let’s Go. What a wonderful surprise!

    Thank you for sharing your story, Arjana!

  2. Hi Arjana

    I really enjoyed reading your inspirational blog post. I love your enthusiasm for embracing new technologies. This is highlighted via your students’ incredible projects. The Animoto video is great! Looking through the award-winning wiki again, I was reminded that your quote above “To teach is to touch a life forever”, is indeed so true. Teaching is a gift we can impart, and that is what makes it all worthwhile.

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  4. Hi Arjana,
    Sounds you work at a great school. That’s wonderful!
    That’s a great post spreading a lot of enthusiasm. Thanks for sharing and thanks for your enthusiasm.
    You are one of the people in my PLN that I get inspiration. I admire your wiki, I love the ning you created with your students.
    You are right, I’ve been using tech in my classes or in my teaching since internet entered my life but the effect of twitter and blogging can not be compared with anything. To be able to know educators like you help all of us widen our views and I agree with you a thousand times teaching is great because ‘to teach is to touch a life forever’. So meaningful and so insirational…
    Eva

  5. Vicky Loras says:

    Hi Arjana!
    What an enthusiastic and beautiful post!
    Congratulations first of all to all the students and teachers at your school. Great work!
    I agree with you that building a PLN is one of the best things that happened to me too this year. Every day I look forward to learning something new, reading an interesting blogpost, implementing a new idea in class….I feel like I am in university again (which I dearly loved as I learned so many things about teaching).
    Congratulations again Arjana!
    Kindest regards,
    Vicky

  6. arjana says:

    Hello Barbara, Janet, Eva and Vicky,
    thank you so much for your nice comments!
    It’s wonderful to be part of this amazing twitter community and I can’t tell you how glad I am to have met you!
    Thanks again.
    All the best
    Arjana

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