Mar 1, 2021

Unleashing the power of language together!

Aleksandrina's classroom :)
Aleksandrina's classroom :)

When in 2015 Alex started teaching 3rd and 4th grade students in the “Rayno Popovich” school in Karlovo, Bulgaria she noticed that a big part of her students are illiterate and do not speak Bulgarian. According to statistics cited by the Ministry of Education and Science of Bulgaria around 20% of all first graders every year find themselves in this situation of having a different mother tongue and not speaking Bulgarian. any of them do not receive the additional language support they need and they end up graduating grade after grade without understanding the language of their school. This means that not only are they lagging behind in language classes but also in all other subjects which are taught in Bulgarian. 

When faced with this situation back in 2015 Alex tried to find and use resources and materials from methodologies developed for other languages being taught as “second”, or in other words to non-native speakers. This proved to be a very difficult task as she did not have the needed support nor training on how to teach Bulgarian as a second language weather in addition to the mandatory classes or as part of them. She gathered resources and did all she could trying different teaching methods to advance her students’ literacy levels. This had some results, however, they were far from satisfactory for all of her students. 

This is part of the bigger problem which is that the current education system does not recognize students in such a situation as bilingual or multilingual. They are expected to come into this system already speaking Bulgarian language as natives. However, this is far from the reality for so many students entering classrooms each year. 

Thanks to your support, every day we are getting one step closer to achieving our goal of finalising the methodology and accompanying resources for teachers for students between 1st and 4th grade of primary school. We are currently developing the language support materials for students in 2nd and 3rd grade. Hopefully, as our project comes close to reaching its aim, hundreds of teachers in the country will be able to benefit from the methodology and additional resources and ultimately, they will be better prepared to address the needs of their multilingual students. This will in turn allow these children to feel better at school and in their wider communities and it will improve their communication skills and relationships with their peers. It will also have a positive effect on their academic performance and access to knowledge, ultimately presenting them with better development opportunities for their future. 

We hope you will continue to support us. 

Language is what will allow these children to feel at home and access to education is what will give them the wings to fly in life!

Sincerely yours,

Teach For Bulgaria Team

Links:

Feb 25, 2021

My Dreams about Bulgarian Education

Aylin
Aylin

When it comes to the success of every student, we often forget to ask the students about what they think and what would make them happier, more motivated, and more confident. This is why we wanted to include the students’ perspective in this month's GlobalGiving report.

We asked Aylin, a 10th-grade student at 97th Secondary School “Brothers Miladinov” in Sofia to put her thoughts into words and write an article about her personal experience at school and how she thinks education is going to change over the next decade. Aylin is a student of several classes of Teach For Bulgaria participants, she has also participated in 8 consecutive Summer Academies. Many Teach For Bulgaria alumni who have worked at 97th Secondary School “Brothers Miladinov” have been her teachers throughout the years. Aylin wants to become a journalist and loves writing. Find out more about her views on education here:

"I have been going to school for a decade now. As any other student, I started not knowing much about our education system or what to expect at school. I entered a world full of adventures and quite a few challenges. I believe education is one of the most important things for people my age. This is how we learn a lot about the world we live in. It is key for our future development as sensible and responsible individuals.

This is what I remind myself whenever I have trouble accomplishing any of my tasks. I ask myself “Do I really want to always depend on someone to live a normal life?” My answer is no.

Education is the key to our independence. We all feel better when we can rely only on ourselves. Students’ main responsibility is to go to school and learn. Sometimes it’s tough, but when we look back in 10 years from now we’ll be able to see that it has been because of these difficulties that we’ve grown. Because they’ve made us go out of our comfort zone. I have a little over two years left in school and I know I’m going to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible. I am planning to improve as many skills as possible and to take the best of what our education system can offer."

Motivation and good teachers

"I believe that it takes motivation and good teachers for us to feel more engaged in the classroom. I am very happy to have teachers who provide quality education. I can’t help but wonder, however, if my future children will have the same opportunities.

Education does not boil down to memorizing and regurgitating a lesson. In order to take full advantage of it, I believe we have to work on our soft skills by making presentations and communicating with others. And we should be asking many, many questions not just about the subject matter, but also about everything that goes on outside of school.

Student-teacher relationships are the most interesting ones in our adolescence. Of course, we’re not best buddies with our teachers, but they can teach us so many things beyond the textbook. Teachers give advice and provide support, even though they are neither friends, nor family to us. I think this is one of the hardest professions. A teacher has many students and has to empathize with all of them."

Teachers who help their students think critically and form their own opinions

"I would like to see many more motivated teachers who show their students how to think critically and form their own opinions on important issues in ten years. Teachers who do not expect students to blindly agree with their views. The perfect teacher isn’t someone who gives easy As or tolerates absences, but someone who can show you that the world actually holds many secrets and is waiting for you to find them.
On the other hand, we do need intrinsic motivation. We all have dreams – to become pilots, journalists, doctors, police officers, etc. It takes a lot of work to make these dreams come true. We can start by making a plan today. Tomorrow might be too late. Some of my peers neglect their studies because they get bullied at school or they simply don’t think that education can help them make their dreams come true."

You can read the whole artcle here.

Thanks to your suppport we are able to provide quality education and make positive change in Bulgarian educational system.

With gratitude,

Teach For Bulgaria

Links:

Feb 24, 2021

Teaching During a Pandemic

Angelina during TFB's Summer Academy
Angelina during TFB's Summer Academy

Today, we meet you with three teachers with three different stories about the challenges of teaching during a pandemic and their decision to become teachers by joining Teach For Bulgaria’s program.

Angelina was born and raised in the region of Veliko Tarnovo. She currently lives in the small town of Lyaskovets. Angelina has a BA in social pedagogy and has worked as a social worker at a crisis center for victims of abuse and human trafficking. She has also been a volunteer in a mentorship program for children without parental care. She is a mother of two.

Aysel is an artist at heart. She fell in love with music as a child and has used every medium of artistic self-expression ever since. Born and raised in Bulgaria’s capital city, she studied audio engineering at New Bulgarian University and is currently a member of several rock bands. She is also a piano teacher, a vocal coach, and works at a TV network. Aysel has toured outside of Bulgaria as well.

Karina was born in Armenia a little over two decades ago, but her family moved to Bulgaria when she was only two years old. She grew up in Stara Zagora and studied marketing at the University of National and World Economy. Karina lived in Asia for a short period of time after graduation, but decided to come back to Bulgaria.

Teaching as a source of meaning

Thanks to her experience as a social worker, Angelina realized that children need to be supported by someone who will not just teach them how to read, write, and do arithmetic, but will also believe in their talents and abilities. This conviction was only confirmed when her two children started school. Once she saw the impact teachers have on children’s lives, Angelina decided to become a teacher in order to help her future students grow.

“Children are like a mirror: if you believe in them, they’ll start believing in themselves and they’ll try to prove you are right. If you don’t believe in them, they will sense this and stop trying,” Angelina says. She has been working as a primary teacher at Secondary School “Vladimir Komarov” in Veliko Tarnovo since September of 2019."

Education as a conscious choice and a worthy cause

Aysel is a primary teacher as well, but she also has music classes with students in 5th and 6th grade at 202nd Primary School “Hristo Botev” in the village of Dolni Pasarel near Sofia. She agrees with Angelina.

“No matter what defence mechanisms parents or children have, they eventually respond positively to your efforts, because if you approach them in a positive way in order to help, they will sense that,” says Aysel."

Aysel adheres to the national curriculum in her classes, but she also tries to develop her students’ critical thinking and communication skills. This is why she was genuinely happy to receive a call from the mother of a student who wanted to tell her about how mature her son had become. The mother and the boy had an argument, but he called her half an hour later and asked her if they could resolve the issue together.

“Teaching makes you face your own self,” Aysel says, “I am aware that I would also like to learn many of the things I explain to my students: not to be afraid to make mistakes, to have more patience… My coordinator (editor’s note: a coordinator in the context of our program is someone who provides teachers with professional support) helped me survive in the beginning because it was a huge shock, especially if you work with first graders. Then you suddenly realize what a huge responsibility it is to be all by yourself in the classroom. This is what I like about the program, they make us feel less alone, they’re always there, looking out for us, asking us what we need and providing us with plenty of opportunities to meet and talk.

The desire to find meaning in her work brings Karina into the program as well.

She first heard about Teach For Bulgaria as a university student. Her involvement with AIESEC’s initiative “Business in Action” exposed her to Teach For Bulgaria’s work. She even visited the office of the organization to learn more about Teach For Bulgaria’s marketing strategy, but what she discovered was a lot more than she was hoping for.

Karina also worked at an advertising agency as a student. She decided to travel across Asia with a friend after graduation because she wanted to challenge herself by being away from her friends, family, and familiar culture. After approximately 4 months of travel across Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia Karina came back to Bulgaria and dedicated the following 6 months to figuring out what she wanted to do professionally.

“My motivation to become a teacher is that in this role I can do something meaningful, something which can have a positive impact on many people. I wanted to work with communities with limited resources and no access to quality education because they are the ones who need this kind of support the most,” says Karina who currently works as a primary teacher at Primary School “Georgi Benkovski” in the village of Manolovo, Pavel Banya municipality.

Angelina, Aysel, and Karina’s life trajectories couldn’t be more different. What unites their stories is that they have all decided to go back to school, but this time as teachers, and they have all chosen to do so as part of Teach For Bulgaria’s program called “A New Way to Teaching”. Read their whole stories here.

Thank you for your continues support!

With gratitude,

Teach For Bulgaria

Aysel with her colleagues
Aysel with her colleagues
Karina at Teach For Bulgaria's office
Karina at Teach For Bulgaria's office
Aysel gives a speech at TFB's Summer Institute
Aysel gives a speech at TFB's Summer Institute

Links:

 
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