“Treat each student equally, give them a chance to take responsibility for their own learning, express themselves, and learn at their own pace.” – Turkey
Collaboration can promote not only teamwork, but also healthy competition. Just ask Gülsüm ÖZEROL, and her students. Their project, “InnovativEnglish,” won first place in the collaboration category at the Partners in Learning European Innovative Teachers Forum in 2011. They paired students who excelled at English with students who excelled at technology, and their project took off.
“These achievements inspired my students and gave them self-confidence: they have seen that if you work hard and put in the effort for success, you get it,” says ÖZEROL. “I believe my biggest innovation is giving students a chance to show their abilities and to work in collaboration in a technology-integrated learning environment.”
Today, ÖZEROL shares her thoughts on the importance of project-based learning, and the results of her award-winning project throughout her school.
Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education?
I always try to follow innovations in my teaching and life. I am constantly seeking to improve myself professionally; I got my masters degree, my PhD and then went on to receive professional achievements – both in my academic and teaching life. One of the most important achievements was winning the Innovative Teachers Forum for Turkey, the Middle East and Africa with my InnovativEnglish project (“Collaboration” category). I also represented Turkey with this project at the Partners in Learning Global Forum held in the USA.
What has changed as a result of your efforts?
Our success resulted in quite a bit of local attention – both from other schools and teachers, as well as the administration. I can also say that I have seen the happiness, self-confidence and success of my students as a result.
How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?
In order to be innovative, a teacher must not use the term “impossible.” Teachers must be well-prepared and try to effectively use the resources that they have. It is very important
to interact with the students, and take into consideration the needs of the students. Give them a chance to show their abilities.
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
I am a technology-addicted teacher. I always try to use technology in my lessons by preparing some materials and bringing them to class, by giving technology-integrated, project-based activities to my students. I attend workshops and trainings for education/technology integration and research how to integrate technology into my teaching. My support teachers, my students and I decided together what to do in order to make English more enjoyable, using technology integration. We arranged working groups with the students who are strong English students with those who are strong computer users, and they prepared technology-integrated, project-based collaborative activities together.
What is your country doing well currently to support education?
There are some strong projects in our country right now. One of them is the “F@tih” project of the Ministry that will start during the new educational term. With the project, each of our classes will have interactive whiteboards (IWBs) and more technological equipment. Additionally, the Ministry plans to give each student a tablet computer with this project.
What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?
The developments in technology and their integration into the teaching and learning atmospheres are the best opportunities for innovation in education. For example, with distance learning, different classes from different regions of the world can take the same course at the same time.
What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?
To be aware of the individual differences and needs of the students, treat each student equally, give them a chance to take responsibility for their own learning, express themselves, and learn at their own pace.
What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?
Using technology in our lessons is a trend that helps students enjoy learning. Our students were born in the technology era so, we cannot separate teaching and learning from technology.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
It would be a tablet with Internet connection, textbooks, educational games, educational animations, communication and e-learning tools. With this, every child could access the same information and educational materials at the same time. They could also access the same online lessons and communicate with each other.
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About Gülsüm ÖZEROL
Birthplace: Mersin, Turkey
Current residence: Diyarbakir, Turkey
– Cukurova University Adana
– Turkey English Language Teaching Department BA Cukurova University Adana
– Turkey English Language Teaching Department Master of Arts
Dicle University Diyarbakir – Turkey Educational Programs and Teaching Department PhD (Still Continue)
Websites I check every day: The website of my school: http://www.naal.k12.tr, as well as http://www.pil-network.com and many websites about the projects and education.
In addition the website, I check my e-mail and Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Person who inspires me most: There are many people and teachers who inspire me, both in my family and in my schools. I cannot name one, but they all have one common feature: taking humanity into consideration.
Favorite childhood memory: Singing a song and recording my voice and then trying to teach something to my friends.
Next travel destination (work or pleasure): I hope I will be heading to Prague, Czech Republic for Partners in Learning Global Forum (we applied to become a Pathfinder School).
When was the last time you laughed? Why? I got a grant for a Comenius Teacher Training Course from our National Agency and I was in Crete last week and I laughed there a lot with many new friends from all over the world. I love laughing and laugh any time.
Favorite book: Dead Poets Society by N.H. Kleinbaum
Favorite music: I play the guitar, I love many kinds of music such as folk, ethnic, pop, soft rock, etc. One of my favorites is Rodrigo Guitar Concerto.
Your favorite quote or motto: “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” -Aristotle