Apr 22, 2019

Freedom within Limits in the Classroom

The TFB participant Dilyana
The TFB participant Dilyana

Dear supporters,

When it comes to innovations in education in Bulgaria, the village of Zheleznitsa probably wouldn’t come to mind, but right there, about 10 kilometers away from the city of Sofia, a young teacher has taken it upon herself to create the very first Montessori classroom in a Bulgarian municipal public school and to teach a mixed age class of primary school students according to the Montessori method.

This is Dilyana’s story. She has been a teacher at the local school in Zheleznitsa for four years now. Her teaching career started back in 2015 when she joined Teach For Bulgaria’s program and completed it successfully in 2017. Dilyana and her colleague Tatyana are currently laying the foundation of Montessori school education in Bulgaria. This is possible thanks to a combination of factors: the changes in the law of education which allow for innovative methods of teaching in the public classrooms, the support of Savina Ignatova – principal of the school, the parents who wanted their children to be in Dilyana’s classroom even though some of her students don’t even live in the village and travel to Zheleznitsa every single day, and many other teachers, supporters, and volunteers who are part of the Montessori community in Bulgaria.

Developed by Italian educator Montessori, the method is based on the principle of learning by doing; it relies on teachers’ scientific observations of children and gives students the freedom of choice of activities from a prescribed range of options with no time limits. An important feature of this approach is that it mainly focuses on early childhood development and is therefore most popular among several private – and recently even a few municipal – kindergartens in Bulgaria. 

“Freedom of choice, freedom of movement, freedom of picking your partner or the place for your work. My students are free to pick which activity to start with, they are also free to move on to another one whenever they wish,” Dilyana says. "Freedom of choice is not the same as anarchy. Students plan out their day every morning. We also have rules which require them to do language (Bulgarian), math, reading, and science every day,” the teacher shares. This gives them structure and then they can follow their own tempo. “But it is obligatory for them to work on all subjects throughout the day,” Dilyana is adamant.

Giving students more freedom in the classroom does not mean that they are not obliged to progress according to the same educational standards as their peers. “We do midterm assessments, start of the school year tests, we follow all requirements of the Ministry of Education and Science,” Dilyana says. The difference, however, is in the approach. “We don’t say ‘OK, we’ll have a test now’, we say ‘let’s see how much progress you’ve made in order to understand what you need to work on’,” the teacher says. Based on the results she makes individual plans for all students, so they can work on their areas for improvement.“This is the main principle in our classroom – we have an individual approach to every child.” adds Diliyana.

Thank you for your continuous support! Your engagement allows more people, like Dilyana, to become inspiring teachers and educational leaders. 

The classroom
The classroom
Inspired student
Inspired student

Links:

Apr 22, 2019

Freedom within Limits in the Classroom

Inspired student
Inspired student

Dear supporters,

Thank you for your continuous support and engagement with our cause for facilitating access to quality education for every child. I am happy to share with you that April 15 marked the final application deadline for cohort 2019. We have exceeded our targets for attracting the new potential participants in the TFB program and now we are in the process of reviewing and selecting the final number of teachers, who will join cohort 2019-2021 and begin teaching in September 2019. 

As you know, the Summer Academy is part of the practical training for every participant in TFB's program upon entering the classrooms as teachers in September 2019. This Academy is key for developing their knowledge and skills for teaching. Additionally, the Academy provides free summer education for many children coming from low-income communities every year in Sofia. As we are preparing for this year's Academy, we wanted to share with you a short story with a TFB alumna as she continues teaching upon graduating from the program.

When it comes to innovations in education in Bulgaria, the village of Zheleznitsa probably wouldn’t come to mind, but right there, about 10 kilometers away from the city of Sofia, a young teacher has taken it upon herself to create the very first Montessori classroom in a Bulgarian municipal public school and to teach a mixed age class of primary school students according to the Montessori method.

This is Dilyana’s story. She has been a teacher at the local school in Zheleznitsa for four years now. Her teaching career started back in 2015 when she joined Teach For Bulgaria’s program and completed it successfully in 2017. Dilyana and her colleague Tatyana are currently laying the foundation of Montessori school education in Bulgaria. This is possible thanks to a combination of factors: the changes in the law of education which allow for innovative methods of teaching in the public classrooms, the support of Savina Ignatova – principal of the school, the parents who wanted their children to be in Dilyana’s classroom even though some of her students don’t even live in the village and travel to Zheleznitsa every single day, and many other teachers, supporters, and volunteers who are part of the Montessori community in Bulgaria.

Developed by Italian educator Montessori, the method is based on the principle of learning by doing; it relies on teachers’ scientific observations of children and gives students the freedom of choice of activities from a prescribed range of options with no time limits. An important feature of this approach is that it mainly focuses on early childhood development and is therefore most popular among several private – and recently even a few municipal – kindergartens in Bulgaria. 

“Freedom of choice, freedom of movement, freedom of picking your partner or the place for your work. My students are free to pick which activity to start with, they are also free to move on to another one whenever they wish,”Dilyana says. "Freedom of choice is not the same as anarchy. Students plan out their day every morning. We also have rules which require them to do language (Bulgarian), math, reading, and science every day,” the teacher shares. This gives them structure and then they can follow their own tempo. “But it is obligatory for them to work on all subjects throughout the day,”Dilyana is adamant.

Giving students more freedom in the classroom does not mean that they are not obliged to progress according to the same educational standards as their peers. “We do midterm assessments, start of the school year tests, we follow all requirements of the Ministry of Education and Science,” Dilyana says. The difference, however, is in the approach. “We don’t say ‘OK, we’ll have a test now’, we say ‘let’s see how much progress you’ve made in order to understand what you need to work on’,” the teacher says. Based on the results she makes individual plans for all students, so they can work on their areas for improvement.“This is the main principle in our classroom – we have an individual approach to every child.” adds Diliyana.
 

The TFB participant Dilyana
The TFB participant Dilyana
The classroom
The classroom

Links:

Jan 28, 2019

Updates from Teach For Bulgaria

Simona and the future IT specialist.
Simona and the future IT specialist.

Dear supporters,

Thank you for your continuous support during the last year! Your engagement allows us to dream about the future and for what it could be. Not only for our own future but that of every student in Bulgaria, who needs support and someone to believe in them. Support from someone, like Simona, a teacher at "Hristo Botev" secondary school in Gorna Malina and a participant in Teach For Bulgaria's leadership program:

"Since my first year as a teacher, I've realized that my students' dreams are very material and limited. I really wanted to show them that to dream for the future and what they could be one day, is one of the greatest things... Every day, I try to support them and to encourage them to embody different roles and try new things, to write about their "dream trip", or to re-enact something that has impressed them. It is essential for me that at the end of the school year my students are motivated young people, who strive for success.", shared Simona.

Thank you again for believing that people are the key to long-term change in the educational system in Bulgaria. Continue to invest in them! We need your support to achieve our goals - together, we a stronger and more powerful community!

Hristo and the future architect.
Hristo and the future architect.
Tzvetelina and the future sportist.
Tzvetelina and the future sportist.

Links:

 
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