Ana Živković

Skyping the way to a new language — Ana Živković, Serbia

What’s the best way to teach your students a second language? For Serbian ESL teacher Ana Živković, nothing compares to Skype. Whether it’s talking with Fabien Cousteau (grandson of Jacques Cousteau) in his underwater laboratory during his Mission 31 undersea expedition, or talking with a NASA employee at the Kennedy Space Center, Živković’s goal is “to make learning English easy and fun by using ICT.”

Teaching has been in Živković’s DNA since she was a child, and she has excelled at it. A Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, MIE Teacher Trainer, ICT in the Classroom Teacher Trainer, Skype Master Teacher, and TEDxNiš speaker, her love of learning and sharing has made her the exceptional educator she is today.

Her proudest moments? “The first was when I was teaching a kindergarten class in a private language school, which was actually my first job,” Živković tells us.

“I will never forget the feeling of excitement when I realized how young learners easily pick up foreign language. Namely, I would always greet them with, ‘Hello,’ and leave the classroom with, ‘Bye, see you tomorrow!’ But on one occasion I said just ‘Bye-bye,’ and they all replied in unison, ‘See you tomorrow!’ I was in awe of how their little brains simply knew that something was missing in my phrase.”

She has much to be proud of (including her second proudest moment, below), and exemplifies what it means to be a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert.

Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Ana Živković!

What inspired you to become an educator?

Now, even with a 30-year time distance, I still vividly remember my first day at elementary school. Mrs. Ljiljana Eric, who welcomed us that day, was to be our teacher for the next four years, and we were to be her last generation before she retired.

I remember her being very clear about what she expected of us (some people might even call her strict), but at the same time also being full of compassion and understanding. She chose me to be the monitor and allowed me to sit behind her desk during those five minutes between the end of each recess and the beginning of the next period.

My job was to revise what we had learned with the rest of the students, and then prepare for the new things we would learn that day. As one of my classroom friends observed at our school reunion, seeing me behind the teacher’s desk then, she simply knew I was destined to become a teacher myself.

What was a defining moment in your career when you felt proudest to be an educator?
[In addition to the mention above], the other moment when I really felt proud to be an educator was when my class and I Skyped with the ocean explorer Fabian Cousteau while he was 63 feet below the surface of the ocean, on Mission 31. That lesson was really unforgettable and I was so impressed by the questions my students came up with.

We got the unique opportunity to learn about and actually see the inside of the world’s only  underwater laboratory, which is also used by NASA as a training spot for astronauts. I could really see the change in my students afterward. They felt more confident and eager to use their knowledge of English in practice.

Why do you feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom?

Using technology, especially Skype in the classroom lessons, really brought the world into my classroom. With the help of another Skype Master Teacher, Arin Kress, we got to do an interview with a NASA Kennedy Space Center Education specialist.

Whether it’s a day-to-day challenge or larger problem, what’s the biggest obstacle you or your country or region has had to overcome, or will have to overcome, to ensure a quality education for students?

The biggest problem in my opinion is the lack of funds and teaching aids. Although we live in the 21st century, there are still schools that are equipped like it’s the 19th century:  No Internet, no heating, no gyms.

Most of the teachers are very much open to new ideas, eager to learn and ready to devote time to professional development. However, when they come to school in the morning, they either lose their motivation and turn to the old way of teaching (when they realize they cannot implement these ideas), or come up with new ways to overcome the obstacles of having outdated or no equipment (bringing their own devices or asking students to bring theirs).

In terms of education innovation, what are you most excited about for the future?

What I look forward to in the future are augmented reality apps, paperless classrooms and the higher adaptability of technology to cater to all students’ needs. I was also inspired by Angela Maiers’ and Sugata Mitra’s belief in the students’ potential, and I think the most important job for us as teachers is to enable them to develop their talents.

About Ana Živković (Ана Живковић)

ESL teacher, ICT in the Classroom Teacher Trainer, Skype Master Teacher, MIE Expert 2015, MIE Teacher Trainer, TEDxNiš speaker

“Čegar” Elementary School

Niš, Serbia

@teacherka

  • Favorite childhood memory: Class field trips during elementary school.
  • Favorite book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Skype, Sway, Moviemaker
  • What is the best advice you have ever received? It was actually a Walt Disney quote: “If you can dream it, you can do it!”

 

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