The Pearson ELT Teacher Award was launched to celebrate dedicated and innovative teachers around the world. Read on to find out more about the winner for the Europe & Central Asia region, Agnieszka Bilska from Poland.
Agnieszka is a firm believer that what her students learn at school will prepare them for the challenges of the modern world. She says: “The formal system of education tends to overlook their natural talents and preferences.”
So in order to make her classes more engaging and memorable, Agnieszka uses games, gamification and projects related to real-world issues in her English lessons. This helps her students to become more autonomous and more responsible for their own learning process.
She says: “Because there are many students in my classes, I rely on technology to build relationships and address individual needs as much as possible. I use social media as an educational tool and follow new trends so that I can use them to teach my young learners.”
To facilitate these lessons, Agnieszka and her colleagues urged their school to make wireless internet available to students and allow them to use their own mobile devices in class. Their argument proved to be a convincing one and most teachers now work with a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model.
This compensates for the fact that most Polish schools do not have computers, so the use of ICT (information and communication technologies) in education is limited. “My students have become independent thinkers, willing to strive for the best, able to pursue their dreams and achieve ambitious goals,” says Agnieszka. “I’m so proud that some of them are now studying at universities in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia.”
In order to promote Wi-Fi/BYOD at schools even further – and the use of ICT in education – Agnieszka has taken on projects reaching out beyond school life to access teachers, parents and students. These include:
Superbelfrzy: an informal professional development group for teachers
Agnieszka is one of the administrators of the Superbelfrzy Facebook group, which is made up of 150 teachers who are determined to change the ossified system of Polish state education by conducting free, open projects available to everyone on multiple social media platforms. These include writing blogs and publishing education resources, and organising conferences, workshops and webinars.
CoderDojo: a coding club for children
Agnieszka started this club, which allows her students to use the school’s IT equipment to teach each other coding and design, or to simply tinker on the keyboards and explore the internet. It later evolved into a full-fledged coding club that attracted instructors from the Technological Institute and local software companies.
Tech Klub Gliwice: a meet-up place for NGOs
Agnieszka is the leader of this local tech club, which aims to bring modern technology to non-governmental organisations by networking them with representatives of business, municipal administration, the technology industry, other academics and the media. The club holds monthly meetings, which involves activities such as workshops and presentations.
What the judges thought
The judges of the Pearson ELT Teacher Award were looking for outstanding teachers who are dedicated to making a real difference and striving to help their learners in new ways every day.
Agnieska impressed the judges with her incredible energy and dedication to teaching. The range of projects she is involved with demonstrates her own initiative and reflects a constructivist, collaborative and creative use of technology.
You can find out more about Agnieska’s campaign to have Wi-Fi and devices in classrooms by watching this video: