Thursday, 9 June 2016

Interview with the finalist of the Global Teacher Prize - Jolanta Okuniewska

Jolanta grew up and trained to be a teacher in communist Poland. At that time there were few chances to collaborate with other teachers internationally, so when the Iron Curtain fell in 1990 she eagerly embraced the new opportunities available. She began to learn English to work with other schools in Europe and explore new teaching styles.
Her major innovation has been to implement tablets in her primary school classes to enhance learning through online puzzles, games and posters that she developed with a colleague, in addition to using free Polish and English e-learning resources. She used ICT to allow a chronically ill pupil to follow lessons and stay in touch with her class despite having to spend a lot of time in hospital. Jolanta makes extensive use of eTwinning projects so that her students develop a broad range of collaborative, linguistic, intercultural and technical competencies.
Last year her class occupied first place in the school ranking of educational achievements and won several prizes. Jolanta herself has received several awards, including the Commission of National Education Medal and the 2012 Award of the Minister of Education.
She shares lessons with other teachers throughout Europe, and trains Polish teachers at conferences, online and in publications on integrating ICT into lessons and setting up eTwinning projects.

1. What matters in your life? 
Most of all, agreement with myself and peaceful co-existence. I appreciate peace and taking actions which are in accord with my conscience and don’t harm others, and I am able to help them.
I like inspiring others, giving people clues and observing how they develop. I don’t like imposing or being in the centre of attention. The most important values for me are my family, love and friendship.

2. What mattered to you when you were a teenager?
When I was a teenager I loved learning. I was lucky to meet teachers who carried out interesting classes or were people with a great personality. And thanks to that even Physics, which wasn’t my favourite, became more interesting.
I used to read a lot. Brand new books from the district library were always my first choice. That was my privilege. 

3. What are your passions? 
Teaching is my passion. I feel best in the classroom. Little children give me a lot of energy and love and they are devoted friends. We treat each other with respect, trust each other and these are the basis I’ve been building my school relations on. Butterflies are also my passion. Observing and taking pictures of these colourful insects is an absorbing activity on holidays. I collect notebooks from all over the world. I have got over eighty now.

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