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#HERITAGETEACHERS // Tatiana Popa: “The trend is to develop in our students skills that are necessary and applicable in everyday life”

Tatiana Popa is an English teacher and the Global Learning Coordinator at Heritage International School. She has a bachelor’s degree of Philology (English Language and Literature - German Language) and holds a master's degree in Philology (English). As an authorized eTwinning Ambassador to Moldova, as well as an active member and trainer of the Moldovan English Teachers Association (META), she organizes and participates in events to share her knowledge and experience with other teachers (from our country and from abroad) interested in global education and innovative teaching methods.
 
I was among the first teachers to participate in the official opening of Heritage International School. I decided to be part of the Heritage team because this institution shares the same vision regarding what a school must offer students in the 21st century: raising global citizens, in which they learn values such as tolerance, global thinking, communication, collaboration, respect, and others.

I believe that a teacher is formed by many experiences, not by a single one. An important step in my professional career was when I discovered that I could take online courses. A new world was revealed to me then and, since 2010, I have been taking various online courses, offered by many prestigious universities in the world.

Photo: Social distancing for the first day of school, September 2020
 
Another significant year in my teaching experience was 2013, when the eTwinning platform launched in Moldova, offering a space for collaboration between schools in Europe. This way, I started involving my students in international projects and collaborations, where they had the opportunity to socialize, to work in transnational teams, to create products, to feel connected to the whole world, thus evaluating their own behaviour, how they express themselves, how they behave in front of video cameras, etc. All these experiences trained me as a teacher and made me understand that I want to continue this kind of collaborations, especially for my students.

Photo: Receiving the eTwinning European Prize, team of all teachers from 'Heritage Matters' project, in Cannes, October 2019
 
I decided that I had to involve the students in real, practical situations, in which they could use English as a language of communication, more precisely – to bring the world into the classroom, to put the students in the situation of speaking English with native speakers and not only. In this context, I have to mention the Skype Classroom platform, through which I found partners with whom we organized video conferences between students. This way Heritage students understood that English is not only learned in class, but used in real life.

Photo: At the Irish Consulate with Heritage students as winners in St. Patrick's Day Competition
 
A teacher has a whole arsenal of methods that he prefers to use in class, activities that capture the students’ attention and get them involved. For example, all students regardless of age, love games and using technologies in class. We often play online games such as Quizziz, Kahoot, through which we also learn grammar, and children like to test their knowledge through these platforms.

Another method that I apply in class to engage students and which helps a lot is working in groups and giving them various real tasks, through which they apply what they have learned.

Photo: In the jury at World Scholar's Cup and my students as participants, March 2019
 
I have many fond memories of Heritage and I think this is possible because I have a harmonious relationship both with my students and with my colleagues.

I really like and appreciate that my students trust me, some come and tell me secrets, ask me for advice, we make plans for the future, we choose together in which projects to get involved, what activities to do for different school events and many more.

I remember fondly one day in class. During a break, I found on my desk a note from a student that said: “You are an amazing Teacher!”. Fortunately for me, I had seen the child writing something on a piece of paper at the end of the lesson. In response, I took a sticky note and wrote to him: “And you are a brilliant student, and I am glad to have you in my class!”. I opened the student's notebook and pasted the note. When the student returned to his place, opened the notebook and found the note, his reaction was very amusing: “Wow, Mrs. Tatiana!” We both smiled, and the note from that student stayed next to my computer screen for a whole year. It always brought a smile on my face.
 
Photo: Surprised by my students with 'Happy Birthday' balloons
 
Recently, I had a funny situation in class. A student removed the laces from a disposable mask, and tied them to the padlock from his locker, making a pendulum; he was playing with it during the lesson, swinging the padlock from side to side. I saw him and I wanted to react as a joke, so he won't get upset that I disapprove of his behaviour. Quietly, I went to him and took that “toy”, then I turned back in front of the classroom and did exactly what he has been doing instead of listening to me – I played with the pendulum, moving it from one side to another. When students saw this, they laughed, and that particular student understood that my message was meant for him.

Photo: With Heritage colleagues at Sports Day 2018
 
One of my favourite activities with my colleagues at Heritage is to discuss what we read – we have interesting intellectual discussions in the teachers’ lounge, we talk about books that left an impression on us and we exchange books.

As the year 2020 has radically changed the way we teach and learn, I don't think much will change in the next ten years. The use of technologies will be the highlight, providing us various teaching possibilities, with tools that we can use every day.

Photo: Teacher trainer at eTwinning Moldova, workshop for beginners
 
The tendency is to develop in students the skills they need and which they can apply in their daily lives and I believe that education will focus on these skills. I believe that the teacher-student relationship will be maintained, the educational act performed by the teacher will be further appreciated.

Get to know all our amazing Heritage teachers here.

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