Acknowledging the work of dedicated teachers
Innovative teaching methods and individualised approach for quality and inclusive education for ALL children
Prilep, December 2022: Igor Bogdanoski, who has been teaching maths at the primary school “Blaze Koneski” in Prilep for sixteen years, has found a way to make maths classes fun and engaging. If one ever has the chance of attending his classes, they will experience a rare sight. Even after the school bell rings, the students stay in the classroom, holding their jackets in their hands and discussing maths problems while the teacher explains with patience and eagerness.
Being aware that not every student is a fan of learning math, Igor makes conscious effort to help children fall in love with the learning journey. On one side, he continues to develop professionally, sharing knowledge with his colleagues, writing papers in the field of educational management and mathematics, while on the other side he is equally committed to building a warm, friendly relationship with students and enhancing the learning experience with technology, quizzes and exercises.
Like thousands of other teachers in the country, he has experienced firsthand the challenges of teaching and learning during COVID-19 pandemic and the school closures. Even though he managed to find a quick fix to continue with online teaching and help colleagues acquire basic digital knowledge, he needed a more structured support. An opportunity arose from UNICEF’s initiative financed by the Delegation of the European Union which aimed at improving the quality and effectiveness of the digital learning environment and promoting quality and inclusive education for all students during the pandemic and beyond.
He joined the initiative and was part of a teacher cohort that completed a series of capacity-development trainings on the use of digital tools and technologies in education focusing on formative assessment, best pedagogical practices for digital learning for all students, shifting the teaching for digital learning, selecting technologies and technology-enhanced teaching competence.
Later, Bogdanoski transferred his knowledge to colleagues from primary and secondary schools and conducted three webinars on formative assessment in teaching, on pedagogical approaches to inclusive, digital and blended learning and on teaching competencies with technological support. More than 7300 teachers completed these three webinars.
Today, when students are back at school, Igor Bogdanoski continues to apply digital tools in teaching tо enhance the learning process and make math concepts come alive through engaging and interactive media.
Ninth graders look forward to doing online math exercises. With focused attention – because the time to solve the exercises is limited – students get fixated on the screen, as they would do when playing computer games, waiting for the problem to appear on the screen so they can immediately start working on it. “We compete”, students say, but everyone agrees that they also like to have the teacher explain things before using the tablets to solve assignments.
“Children truly enjoy having the option to do quizzes and assignments using the digital tools”, explains the teacher and adds “However, it would be hasty to conclude that just the mere application of technology in education would have a transformative impact. It has evident benefits but what matters the most is the teaching methods and the teacher’s dedication, and this is true both when technology is used and when it is not.”
Inspired by the UNICEF trainings and the idea of expanding the knowledge and experience between peer teachers, he has initiated the establishment of a professional learning community with other math teachers throughout the country. “The process is moving at a slow pace because some of the teachers struggle with the idea of change. But it is being driven forward by around thirty motivated professionals who are hoping to inspire other colleagues to join more actively.”
A good example of cooperation between teachers is the one Igor has with Snezana Zlatkovska, a math teacher from the elementary school “Ilinden” in Kriva Palanka, initiated during the pandemic. The two teachers have been collaborating in an innovative way – they review each other's materials and exercises prepared for the math classes, jointly maintain the site https://mismath.net/moodle/ with teaching materials for maths, and occasionally get involved in each-other's additional and supplementary classes online, so that students can experience different perspectives on the material. “It is useful to expose ourselves from time to time to an objective check, to get a fresh perspective and see what we are doing right and where we need to improve. “
Igor Bogdanoski explores different ways to respond to students’ individual needs. For example, he makes video and audio recordings of lectures and exercises so that children who are unable to attend the class with physical presence because they are ill, or if they need more time to learn, can go through the lessons at home.
The teacher also holds additional online classes every weekday from 4 to 5 p.m. intended for students with a greater interest in maths or for those who need additional learning support. “Sometimes 15 students join, sometimes no one shows up, but every day at 4 pm I'm on Teams”.
Last year, Igor Bogdanoski was elected as a mentor teacher in a public competition, and with that his long-term work was officially acknowledged. “It was good to see that what I have been doing for years was on the right path, on a good path”, says Igor. “This is an effort to value the work of dedicated teachers”.
Based on thefive broad areas of quality and inclusive digital teaching and learning covered at the webinars, UNICEF developed online training modules that were localized and verified by the Bureau for Development of Education and will be made available to all education professionals in North Macedonia on the Eduino platform.
Activities related to strengthening the capacities of teachers for quality and inclusive learning and teaching for all children are part of a wider regional project to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of children and families in the Western Balkans and Turkey. The project is financed by the Delegation of the European Union with support from UNICEF and is implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and the Ministry of Health.