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!
Note: This article by Arjana Blazic originally appeared on Teaching Village, and is licensed under a Creative Commons, Attribution-Non Commercial, No Derivatives 3.0 License. If you wish to share it you must re-publish it “as is”, and retain any credits, acknowledgements, and hyperlinks within it.