“I know that every teacher can create a classroom environment in which engagement is the norm instead of the exception.” – Mimi Videnova, Bulgaria
It’s obvious that Mimi Videnova cares about her students. Her innovative teaching approach and drive to succeed have resulted in numerous awards for her students. But Videnova is equally committed to – and passionate about – improving education for all in her native Bulgaria. She was recently named to the Ministry of Education’s Advisory Council for Innovative School and Pre-school Education, which according to Education Minister Sergei Ignatov, “always keeps us one step ahead of the problems of education.” As part of the council, Videnova was recently invited to referee the new curriculum.
She also represented her school at the national conference “Information Technology in Education – Necessary Investment in the Future of Bulgaria,” a meeting jointly organized by Microsoft Partners in Learning and Bulgaria’s Ministry of Education and Science. The conference, attended by over 150 teachers, university professors, and representatives of NGOs, government and municipal officials, gave Videnova an important platform to share what she’s learned in her efforts to integrate technology and innovation in the classroom.
Today, she shares her knowledge with us, and provides some inspiration for any teacher
to innovate, whatever their challenges.
Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education?
My achievements have a direct impact on the application of innovation in our school. My first project was to equip an interactive classroom. We won an international project grant worth $100,000. We got tablet PCs and I completed the equipment with an interactive whiteboard.
My next project was connected to the use of new technologies in the daily training of students. I created the project “Math and Technology,” which combined the teaching of Information Technology with teaching mathematics in grade 9. My colleagues are actively involved, and for two years, the project has worked and delivered good results. The project continues to evolve. This year other colleagues adapted the project for students from grade 6 and 7. With my work and my enthusiasm, I inspire my colleagues. In our school, we have many good teachers and I am happy that we are able to work together, share ideas and develop plans.
What has changed as a result of your efforts?
I have shared my ideas and projects and presented the benefits. People see the results of my work. This year my students participated in three different competitions. Students from 5th grade won a prize for best poster design in a national contest. Other children in 5th and 6th grade classes won one gold, two silver and one bronze medal at the European competition for computer drawing. And two great 8th grade girls participated in the competition for Web programming. These results cannot stay unnoticed.
Another advantage of my work and the rewards that I get is visibility. It is much easier for a person who is known to present new ideas. But to reach this level took hard work and overcoming many obstacles.
How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?
I can’t say how to generate high levels of attention and engagement as a result of careful planning and execution of specific strategies. But I know that every teacher can create a classroom environment in which engagement is the norm instead of the exception.
Teachers must love their job and children. They must be creative. And if they really want to implement new working methods, but have no ideas, they can seek out shared experiences and adapt them to their education systems and their students.
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
It’s easy for me. I have a deep understanding of technology and I can see how it supports my work. When I make lessons for my students, I don’t think “Is this innovation or not?” I look around for fresh ideas. I want to have fun. If it’s interesting to me, I know that kids will enjoy it. If it’s interesting to me, I know that I can inspire the children. If it’s interesting to me, I know that this is something innovative. Work is a pleasure for me. Therefore things happen.
What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?
I think the biggest obstacles are ahead. My goal is to help improve education in our country. Hindrances will be many. How I will overcome them, I do not yet know. But I will follow my dreams. Obstacles are everywhere. When a person has a purpose, he or she finds a way to overcome any obstacle.
What is your country doing right to support education?
Our country is working very hard for the development of education. Here are some headlines from recent activities:
- “Presentation of the draft new law on pre-school and school education”
- “Cabinet approved the nine national programs for development of secondary
- “Secondary Education is being modernized with project for 60 million BGN.”
Our government is actively working to ensure students are receiving a quality education. They make reforms, create new laws on education and update curricula. The purpose of our Ministry of Education is “Decentralization, governance, transparency and participation. Finding a balance between normativity and freedom.” Some
of the ministry’s stated priorities in the development of education include:
- “Finishing in the shortest possible time the reform of vocational education and monitoring of system operation in order to ensure that action is adapted to future needs of the economy.”
- “Development of new curricula oriented towards long-term objectives and characterized by adaptability to changing needs of professional skills.”
- “Urgently develop a strategy for continuing training in close cooperation with social partners.”
What conditions must change in your country to better support education?
All these questions have no short answer. I am committed to issues of education and will work to improve it. Education need better support, but not only in our country. In recent years, this has become a global problem. Overall I think we need to change the mass model. It is necessary to remove the causes – parents’ lack of time, indifference,
rejection of education as a value, etc. These are not just problems of the educational system. We need to change the thinking of society, but this doesn’t happen overnight. Along with this we have to keep up our best practices, which give good results.
What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?
There is no universal recipe. There are many opportunities for innovation in education, but they are different for each country, for each school, for each class. We need an individual approach for good results. But technology is the easy way for innovation, and we must use this opportunity.
What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?
Be well prepared. You should be interested in the latest news related to your discipline in order to show the usefulness of the study of the subject. Work conscientiously, regardless of results. The results will come later. Show self-confidence and self-esteem. Be a person! Love your job and the children!
What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?
The use of technology as a support for good education is a positive trend.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
Each of us has one universal educational tool, and this tool is our brain! Train your brain. Cultivate your mind. I would say to everyone: read on! Read books, read more and more. And use your knowledge to create a beautiful world!
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About Mimi Videnova
- Birthplace: Dimitrovgrad, Bulgaria
- Current residence: Sofia, Bulgaria
- Education: Higher education – Master of Communication Technology, Further education – IT Teacher
- Website I check every day: No site that I visit every day. Regularly I visit a few sites. I’m member of the Bulgarian Innovative teachers network, Microsoft
Global Partners in Learning Network, a member of ISTE, an associated member of the CIO Bulgaria, Bulgarian Association of Information Technology, idg.bg (IT Portal, services and prices), my personal website, and facebook.com.
- Person who inspires me most: When I think about it, there are many people who have inspired and touched me in some way. I do not make idols or graven images. I take something from every person who crosses my life!
- Favorite childhood memory: I had a wonderful, happy and peaceful childhood. When I was little, near the house of my grandparents was a huge oak. I loved to organize picnics for my friends under overhanging branches. And now, when I see a huge oak, I feel sure, comfortable and safe.
- Next travel destination (work or pleasure): I do not know. For me, things happen spontaneously. Only fate knows what my next destination.
- When was the last time you laughed? Why? A few days ago I read the story told in a blog. The story is written with a great sense of humor, I laughed out loud
- Favorite book: A collection of humorous short stories by famous writers like Oscar Wilde and Jerome K. Jerome; Strychnine in the Soupand all by PG Wodehouse. Also-
- Black Obelisk, Shadows in Paradise by Erich Maria Remarque
- Twelve Chairs and Golden Calf by Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov
- Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky Brothers
- The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien.
“The Hobbit” is the book that I am reading now.
There are so many books that I like. I love to read!
- Favorite music: Classical music. We have many nice Bulgarian pop songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s that I can listen to every time, everywhere. Any music that I
listen to must match my mood at the moment.
Your favorite quote or motto: Miracles will come but you must do your part!