Our KDSL Global Intern recently had the opportunity to interview Barbara Zielonka about innovation and her new book. Zielonka gives personal insight into her teaching strategies and approaches that have helped her bring innovation into her curriculum and meet the needs of the learners of today and tomorrow.
Tell us about Education Influence and the role that innovation plays in education.
Education Influence is a network of teachers handpicked for their influential leadership in the community. They are chosen to act as beacons to educators around the world who may require guidance to allow their children to reach their full potential. Education Influence is also a hub for teachers all over the world to come together, safe in the knowledge that they can access a local influencer who is willing to help them move forward.
I believe education plays a very important role in developing the next generation of problem solvers, critical thinkers, entrepreneurs, innovators and go-getters. If we really want our students to become successful, we need to create innovative education systems. For many teachers, innovation is strictly linked with the latest technology they use in their classrooms which is true to a certain degree, but for me, innovation means engaging students in ways we never have before and stepping outside of the box. Once teachers develop an innovative mindset and get out of their comfort zone, their students will be able to do the same. We, educators, need to create authentic and innovative opportunities for our students instead of focusing on scores and tests.
Tell us about your new book, “Keys to Educational Success: The Teaching Methods of a Top 10 Finalist of the Global Teacher Prize.”
Writing a book has always been on my bucket list. In 2014, I coauthored an English course book and I still remember the feeling I felt when I held it in my hands. In 2018, I participated in the Global Education and Skills Forum and after my masterclass one of the teachers approached me and asked whether I thought about publishing a book where I could share all my teaching strategies and methods. This question made me think. So as you can see the idea to write this book was born then and I am glad I did it.
In Keys to Educational Success, I give a personal insight into my teaching strategies and approaches that have helped me bring innovation into my curriculum and meet the needs of the learners of today and tomorrow. Through many examples and practical tips, I show how giving students a voice and a choice, cultivating a lifelong learning mindset, allowing students to shape their learning and letting students follow their passions and interests has made me a successful and renowned educator. The book is divided into 17 chapters that can be read in any order and can be purchased on Amazon.
What do you hope your readers gain from reading this book?
The purpose of this book is to show teachers, trainee teachers, leaders strategies, approaches and tools that will make their educational journey inspirational and successful. My hope is also that every reader recognizes the importance of a student-centered approach and lifelong learning mindset. These two elements have helped me shape the classroom of the future and spreading the word about them in my book may help other readers/educators accomplish their educational goals.
Barbara Anna Zielonka is a full-time high school English teacher, global educator, educational technologist, teacher trainer, project manager, judge in international educational competitions, lifelong learner, catalyst for change and reader.
In 2007, she earned her master’s degree in English Philology from the University of Silesia, Poland. During the past eight years, she has frequently participated in many post-secondary learning programmes in Norway such as Professional Digital Competence for Educators, ICT in Education, Educational Technology, Mentoring and Communication, international conferences, seminars and workshops all over the world. In 2012, she was one of the teachers who represented Norway at the Teachers Summer Institute 2012 in Amherst (Massachusetts), sponsored by the United States Department of State under the Fulbright Program. In 2014, she co-authored an English textbook Skills for vocational students. She participated in the Pestalozzi workshops and Comenius/ Erasmus programmes, Transatlantic Educators Dialogue between 2012-2019. In May 2017, Barbara received the ‘Gullepleprisen 2017’ from the Norwegian Educational Data Society (NPeD). This prestigious prize is awarded yearly to an educator who has used ICT in teaching in an innovative way. In June 2017, Barbara became the only European winner of the Great Global Project Challenge Grant for her global project called ‘The Universe is Made of Tiny Stories’. In March 2018, Barbara was named one of the top 10 finalists of the one million dollar Global Teacher Prize. In May 2018, Barbara became the laureate of the ‘Outstanding Pole in Norway’ contest in the category of Science.
In her teaching of English, Barbara focuses on the power of international projects, the pedagogical use of ICT tools, learner empowerment, entrepreneurship, innovation and connections-based learning. Several of her global and collaborative projects have received international recognition and awards. She also serves as an ambassador in the following organisations: Varkey Foundation, eTwinning, Connections-Based Learning, HundrED, Teach SDGs and Education Influence. She conducts professional development sessions as well.