Happy New Year! May 2023 bring you happiness, peace, and prosperity!
With the first term of the 2022/2023 school year coming to an end, Teach for Bulgaria teachers are working hard to make learning an enjoyable experience for children from underprivileged communities. One such teacher - Irina Stancheva from the 2021-2023 cohort - has found a new way to engage her students.
Irina is an English language teacher in the 106th school in “Hristo Botev” neighborhood in Sofia where she faces a series of challenges right off the bat - a majority of the students are missing baseline Bulgarian language skills, learning habits, social skills and reading comprehension. Furthermore, the lack of parental support is compounding the natural resistance students have for attending school. Nevertheless, Irina is determined to get through to the children and make learning fun for them.
Through a series of experiments in the classroom, Irina finds an approach to teaching that is engaging the students through educational games, painting, and other activities. She is even successful in encouraging a record number of parents to attend the parent-teacher conferences by inviting successful members of the community to attend and share their thoughts on how education helped their journey.
Irina also started a peer mentorship programme in the school by inviting students from some of Sofia’s most elite schools to be role models for her students. Through that initiative, the students from 106th school have been able to broaden their horizons and learn about career fields that they didn’t know existed before the programme started. Irina believes that learning about possible career opportunities would encourage her students to make more sustained and thorough efforts in their learning.
With your continued help teachers like Irina have been able to make real changes to the lives of students from the most underprivileged communities in Bulgaria. Thank you for your support!
The Teach For Bulgaria team
Summer is the time for holidays and rest for all teachers. Before indulging in a well-deserved rest after a challenging school year, the participants in A New Way to Teaching program traditionally use the summer months to provide additional support to students and build on their experience and knowledge in various fields by implementing their own summer projects and internships. Among the summer plans of all 76 teachers from the class of 2021-2023 this year, there is a wide variety of summer academies, activities to develop students’ skills, upgrade their own experience as trainers, coordinators and volunteers in various organizations and institutions.
Today we bring you to Lyulin neighborhood in Sofia to present to you one of these inspiring summer projects. The teachers in Bratya Miladinovi High School 97, Sofia organized Summer academy for their students. Behind the initiatives are A New Way to Teaching participants Mihaela Bozhankova, Mihaela Dimitrova, Ivelina Borisova, Vassiliki Drakontidis.
School 97 has been carrying out its own summer academy for several years, organized by current participants in the program and alumni of Teach for Bulgaria who continue to teach at the school.
The academy this year was held at the end of June and covered 45 students from 1st to 3rd grade. For two weeks in June, students broaden their worldview through a variety of themed days, a combination of individual activities and group work. The activities during the academy were varied: creativity workshops, including drawing, recreating cave paintings, bean mosaics; getting to know plants; folklore activities, such as Bulgarian costumes and needlework, dance classes; dramatization of fairy tales, reading comprehension, health education, a culinary day with food preparation and many others.
Activities each day included student feedback and morning physical warm-up. In addition to lots of fun, the academy also engaged the students in a charitable cause – the children crafted items during the academy and participated in a Charity Bazaar for the benefit of an upper-year classmate.
The greatest victory since the organization of the academy reported by the teachers is “The positive attitude of the students, who came not out of obligation, but with eagerness. The fact that the students made at least one new friend, learned at least one new thing, and realized that they were good at at least one activity they hadn't suspected before. The fact that they completely overcame the age gap in their communication and treated each other as equals.”
Thank you for supporting our cause. Your help allows us to continue training motivated professionals to become inspiring teachers!
Teach For Bulgaria team
“A New Way to Teaching” program’s mission is to discover, select and develop the most motivated teachers so they can help every student to strive and explore their full potential.
When we started the program 11 years ago, this was more of a dream. Today, we are proud that we count teachers as Ivelina Pashova, an alumna of the first Teach For Bulgaria class (2011), in our community.
Meet Ivelina and two of her students - Gana and Atanas :
It all started more than 10 years ago when Ivelina Pashova started teaching at Secondary School “Lyuben Karavelov” in Koprivshtitsa as part of the first class of participants in Teach For Bulgaria’s program A New Way to Teaching.
Back then Atanas was in 7th grade and Ganka was in 6th grade. Just like many other middle school students in Bulgaria, Atanas and Ganka also “had to” study English as a second language. Up until that point they were not very motivated to do so. Their new English teacher, Iva, changed their attitude and proved to be very impactful. Gani and Nasko remembered their first classes with Ms. Pashova very clearly. She won them over with her energy and enthusiasm in the classroom. Her teaching strategies included gamification, project-based learning, poster making, presentations, movie days, an individualised approach to each student, a summer academy, and so on.
“Imagine a small school in a small town where nothing ever happens. And then suddenly you get two new teachers and they’re both kind of crazy [Ivelina Pashova and Maria Sendova, both teachers from “A New Way to Teaching” program]. They have these new ideas and they also have the energy to get you excited about working on them. She [Ivelina] had to gain our trust, because she wanted us to work pretty hard, which was new for us. They were able to make their classes interesting and fun. They had a more unconventional way of teaching. And they did get us excited about learning – we started participating in competitions, events, seminars, etc.” said Atanas.
Gana and Nasko volunteered at the Red Cross because they saw it as an interesting adventure with a very high added value. They led lectures together and organised training sessions at school, visited seminars, organised fundraisers, and exchanged ideas and experience with other young people. Volunteering, however, only made them hungrier for bigger dreams and aspirations for the future. Gani and Nasko discussed their hopes and dreams with Iva. Nasko had always dreamed of studying in the USA, but once he shared this with Iva, everything changed.
“I took his words very seriously and started treating him like someone who was going to Harvard,” said Iva.
They researched a lot of opportunities about studying in the US and set up individualised support programs, additional English classes, mock interviews, and requirement overviews. One of the opportunities they came across was a scholarship for the United World Colleges (UWC). When Nasko filled out his application, he had no idea that only a few months later he and Ivelina would be at the airport in Sofia, waiting for an international flight which would take him to his dream – a college in the Montezuma Castle in New Mexico.
Gani also followed her heart and Nasko’s example. When she found out about UWC, she realised that their mission for academic growth is focused on personal development and cultural exchange – learning about other cultures, traditions, and people. This coincided with her view of academic growth.
Both Gana and Atanas received scholarships for the United World Colleges in two consecutive years. Their paths split then – Nasko went to a college in the state of New Mexico in the United States. Then he returned to Bulgaria and decided to go to medical school in Plovdiv. Gani finished her high school education in the Italian village of Duino and then studied global development at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.
“Iva wouldn’t let me give up, she made me focus on what I wanted and got me to keep fighting for it, even though I had already received one rejection letter,” said Atanas.
“I wouldn’t be here now if Ms. Pashova hadn’t worked with me! While I was preparing, I knew I had someone who would sit down with me and explain everything. She never agreed to fill out my application forms for me but spent hours explaining how it’s done and helping me develop my English skills. She found books for me, we had additional language classes two times a week… When I got to Italy, I didn’t want to stop, because I knew that there was someone who believed in me!” shared Gana.
Read the full story here.
Thank you for helping us bring more extraordinary teachers like Ivelina to the classrooms where needed the most!
Teach For Bulgaria’s team
We would like to introduce you to some participants from the new class of Teach For Bulgaria (2022-2024) who will begin teaching in the fall.
We asked them about their motivation to be teachers and work for equal access to quality education for every child, what they expect to achieve in their first two years of teaching and what type of education they think students need in order to be successful in life.
Here is what they had to share with us:
Alex: “I really appreciate the cause of Teach For Bulgaria because I had myself reached the same conclusions about our education system and access to education. SInce I was young I also dreamed of being a coach and a teacher in school. I accepted my participation as an opportunity, a new challenge and also as a personal cause.Achieving positive change depends on all of us and I will be very glad to be able to be part of this process and affect the life of students, even if a small part of them. I expect to develop myself, learn new teaching methods, gain knowledge and get the opportunity to be close to the students whose future we will start to build on a blank new canvas. I believe every child has a talent that is waiting to be found. I want to teach them to grow, develop and show them how wonderful it is to dream and to be able to turn your dreams into reality, no matter where you come from and what your background may be.
I believe we need teachers who are able to provoke the interest of the students and teach them how to look for and find information by themselves and find solutions to problems and also not to be afraid of making mistakes and trying all over again.”
Here is what Maria, another participant in Teach For Bulgaria’s program, who will start teaching in September, shared with us:
“Despite already having a degree in Education, I believe being part of Teach For Bulgaria’s program will bring me a lot of added value and help me become an inspiration for my students. I will learn a lot of new teaching methods and forms of support for the students.
I expect to create a positive,loving and supportive school environment. Students need to know that someone believes in them. If we manage to create such an environment, success is guaranteed.”
Alex and Maria are only two people on the path which Teach For Bulgaria’s program provides with many more inspiring participants to join this year!
We wish them lots of luck and energy and motivation to achieve all of their dreams for their students and be the teacher they want to be for them!
We will continue to support them throughout our program, provide feedback and help them grow and develop in order to better meet and answer the needs of their students.
We thank you for your continued support and we hope you will keep being part of our cause and of achieving positive change in the lives of all students in Bulgaria!
Teach For Bulgaria team
Teach For Bulgaria teachers are all working in schools across the country where the environment differs as well as the needs of their students.
During their preparation before the school year as well as during their training throughout the year, the teachers focus on many aspects such as developing 21st century skills, socio-emotional development as well as different methodologies for engaging the students while putting their needs in the center of the learning process.
A significant portion of Teach For Bulgaria teachers have students whose mother tongue is not Bulgarian and who require additional specialised language support in order to learn the language and excel in all other subjects as well.
One of Teach For Bulgaria’s alumni who is also currently teaching, Alex, shares that since entering first grade students whose mother tongue is not Bulgarian do not have the needed vocabulary that their native bulgarian language speaking peers do. As they progress into higher grades, these deficiencies deepen even further.
Students in such a situation are in need of very specific language support both during their regular classes at school as well as during their extracurricular activities. Therefore, in order to provide such support, teachers also need to undergo training and preparation so they can teach Bulgarian as a second language as well as integrate practices into other classes to help these students progress and learn.
We at Teach For Bulgaria have developed a special course which is part of the teacher training that focuses on exactly this-how to teach multilingual students learn Bulgarian as a second language.
Alex is now working with the first ever book for learning the alphabet developed for students for whom Bulgarian is a second language and are in primary school. Together with a book with instructions and materials for making tactile letters, Alex can use the teachers handbook containing specific instructions and methodologies for working with these materials and with students for whom Bulgarian is a second or a foreign language and who are in primary school. All other Teach For Bulgaria participants can benefit from these newly developed materials as well.
Alex also shared that her students are very stimulated by the specifically developed materials as they are engaging and allow them to be actively involved in the learning process.
Thanks to your generous support we are able to provide quality training and support to our teachers! Support that helps them work for the success of every child in their classroom so no one is left behind and can develop their full potential!
Please consider upgrading your recurring donation or if you are a one time donor-donating again!
Every donation counts and allows us to better support more and more incoming teachers!
Thank you for your kind support,
Teach For Bulgaria team
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