“The great aim of education is not knowledge but action” – Russia
“Being an innovative educator means being immersed in the process of learning, self-learning and sharing,” says Elena Babina. “That’s why I recognize the importance of innovative approaches in the use of technology-rich environments for learning and teaching, and try to do all possible to further the professional development of fellow teachers.”
Babina is a strong proponent of using information and communication technologies in her classroom, and she leads by example. Collaboration is a fundamental component of her teaching, and she coordinates several teachers’ communities on the Innovative Teachers Network (Russia). In fact, in 2010, she was lead coordinator of the Internet community “Forgotten Monument of Unforgotten War” of the Russia Innovative Teachers Network, in which more than 300 schools were involved. Under Babina’s perview, the project was recognized among the best at the Partners in Learning European Innovative Education Forum in Berlin (2010) and was presented at the Partners in Learning Worldwide Innovative Education Forum in Cape Town, South Africa.
What has changed in your school as a result of your work?
Since 2006, Gymnasia # 6 is an innovative center of English language learning in Gubkin and Belgorod region. Innovation in Gymnasia # 6 can be defined as social change.
Our innovations include an increase of education quality via wide integration of ICT into the learning process, student-centered approaches, interdisciplinary and project-based work, and the creation of a collaborative and innovative school environment. We involve students and parents in contests connected with the use of ICT and in telecommunication projects.
What has changed at your school as a result of your efforts?
During the last six years, our school has become the resource center for sharing best practice in innovative approaches to teaching and learning for teachers of Gubkin and Belgorod region. We are an informal center in language learning. Almost every month, we hold workshops, seminars, and meetings to share new approaches in testing and assessment, and in using ICT.
How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned
through your work?
One of the challenges is motivation. As a participant in the Partners in Learning European Innovative Forum 2012, I presented the online training: Digital Storytelling “Let’s save the world: Red Book of my native place,” which consists of different activities, all of them directed at environmental education and based on the establishment of partnerships with other schools and organizations to share knowledge, experiences and work. The collaborative work among pupils, parents and teachers is one of the keys to success. The use of ICT is essential. One of the stages of the project included work with 8th grades to teach them and help them become instructors for young learners.
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
I created my own websites (not blogs) for my students and colleagues, for extra-curricular activities or just to inform the community about results and achievements. We use social networking for collaboration and communication with students and parents.
Since December 2011, digital storytelling is an essential part of my work with my students. There is no need to persuade children to create a digital story; they like it.
What is an essential part of becoming an innovative teacher today?
It’s a pity that many teachers still do not realize that information technologies are the necessity of our rapidly changing time. Computers and laptops are as essential tools as textbooks.
Self-development is even more important today than 5-10 years ago. I think that some teachers need an example to follow not to be old-fashioned and to become really creative educators.
What is your country doing right to support education?
Secondary education is free-of-charge; all children have equal access to education in Russia. Unified State Exams (external standardized exams) were implemented in our
country several years ago. In the federal basis curriculum, the number of academic hours has increased for foreign languages, computer science and social and economic subjects.
Additionally, the federal program “Our New School” provides a lot of opportunities for gifted students and innovative teachers to share their knowledge. There are a lot of innovative schools all around Russia.
What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?
It’s a rapid time we live in. ICT technologies also develop and change. We can use Web 2.0 technologies in everyday school practice. I have discovered Office 365 for myself and the
participants of our new project devoted to the implementation of digital storytelling in class and out-of-class activities.
What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a
difference in education)?
We must have the desire to change something. I would like to share one of my favorite quotes: “The great aim of education is not knowledge but action” (Herbert Spencer). We must take risks and do something new.
What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?
ICT being used in lessons makes the teaching and learning process more effective. For example, in my school we have 50 computers working in a local net; access to the
Internet is available in each classroom. There is different demonstrational equipment, such as interactive whiteboards, projectors, language laboratory, etc. ICT is not only the way to work with information, but the opportunity to give every participant in the education process wider access to different types of information.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
It would be great if each child had at least one skillful and enthusiastic teacher.
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About Elena Babina
Vice-principal and English language teacher of Gubkin Gymnasia #6, Russia
Birthplace: Gubkin, Belgorod region, Russia
Current residence: Gubkin, Belgorod region, Russia
Education: Voronezh State University, Russia
Websites I check every day: http://www.rbook.pro, http://www.it-n.ru/; at least 2-3 times a week – http://www.pil-network.com/
Person who inspires me most: my daughters Anastasia (16-years old) and Maria (12- years old)
Favorite childhood memory: summer trips to the village
Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Moscow (Partners in Learning Forum)
When was the last time you laughed? Why? I think that I smile when I meet my students. I really happily laughed last Sunday. It was my daughter who made me laugh. We both were satisfied with her own attempt to create a web page about her hobby (Anastasia plays guitar).
Favorite book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Your favorite quote or motto: “Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow” (Anthony J. D’Angelo). “Don’t try to innovate for the future. Innovate for the present” (Peter Drucker). “Actions, not words, are the ultimate results of leadership” (Bill Owens).