Biljana is an experienced and passionate educator. As a Science and Biology teacher, she taught elementary and high school students for over 20 years. Her background in education includes creating several educational programs for children and young adults in areas of Science and Pedagogy and Educational Leadership. She was awarded a grant from The World Bank for developed multidisciplinary programs. She has been working in many countries and implementing different programs and levels into the classroom.
* IB DP Biology and MYP Science Teacher (August 2017- August 2019) Knightsbridge Schools International, Tivat, Montenegro https://www.ksi-montenegro.com/
* Science Instructor at Center for Talent Development CTD (September 2014 – July 2017) Northwestern University, Chicago IL https://www.ctd.northwestern.edu/
* High School Principal (September 2009 – July 2010) 15th. Belgrade High School, Belgrade, Serbia
* Science – Biology Lead Teacher (1995 – 2009) 15th Belgrade High School, Belgrade, Serbia
* Project Principal Investigator (2005 – 2007) – Based on the winning project, I was awarded a grant from World Bank to implement and coordinate a multidisciplinary approach project for High School Students.
* PISA Project Consultant (2004 – 2006) The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) – Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Belgrade, Serbia http://www.oecd.org/pisa/ – I have gained experience in methods and approaches to evaluate the level of achievement in science knowledge for students of 15 years of age.
* Educational consultant (2002 – 2006) National Committee for AIDS Prevention – The Government of the Republic of Serbia – I have worked on designing workshops and publications of manual for educators on HIV and AIDS prevention.
* Teacher Trainer (2002 – 2005) International Youth Science Center, Petnica, Serbia – Working with teachers from elementary and high schools, I instructed them about teaching biology methods.
* Educational Consultant (2001 – 2004) Ministry of Education for the Republic of Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia – I was a member of a 10 member team that was a part of the Ministry of Education for the Republic Serbia. The goal was to reform the National Syllabus Curriculum of Biology for Middle and High School and implement the same.
* Middle School Science – Biology Teacher (1992 – 1995), Belgrade, Serbia
* Research Assistant (1992 – 1994) Institute for Biological Research, Department of Ecology, Belgrade, Serbia
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe, as a biologist and a teacher, that every challenge is an opportunity for growth. I see it as my responsibility to challenge and support my students in pursuit of three learning goals:
(1) cultivating an interest in science;
(2) learning basic biological concepts;
(3) understanding of how we do science.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Through open discussions and warm-ups, I provide safe environments that encourage students to participate and ask questions. I help the students create relationships between the concepts they see in the classroom and the things they see in their everyday life. Through an extensive emphasis on critical thinking, my students develop the necessary connections to make adequate conclusions. Thus, developing the students’ self-awareness of their previous knowledge base and preferred learning process will allow them to more easily assess their grasp and integration of course material and allow them to be more effective learners in future courses.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
The current trend that I am interested in is the increased responsibility for students, especially DP students. As teachers shift to a supporting role in the classroom, they will be transferring more responsibility to students for their own learning. Experimentation could be library and internet research; for example, while teaching Taxonomy, I provide the students with information on etymology. Through their research, they achieve familiarity with word roots, suffixes, and prefixes, so they can eliminate the need to memorize separately, seemingly endless lists of essential words. Increasing technology integration and personalized learning will drive students to be more self-directed and self-disciplined. This trend can accelerate learning and produce more college-ready high school grads if balanced by frequent and effective coaching from teachers.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Teaching is a partnership. One of the key reasons for developing a partnership approach is that students should be active participants in the learning process rather than passive recipients of knowledge; partnership is key to developing that participation.
Today we have an evolution of the teacher-student relationship. Teachers may have more knowledge in their memory banks, but the Internet has given learners equal access to information. That simple fact continues to drive classrooms away from the information hierarchy model that places teachers at the top and toward an equal learning community model. It’s a 21 st century model that regards learners and teachers as partners in education, with students creating and collaborating and teachers supporting, directing, and coaching student efforts.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Through my experiences with various biology courses, I have found that student learning is particularly challenging in non-major courses where students’ background knowledge and interest in the topic will vary considerably. Biology majors typically harbour a certain enthusiasm for major courses but may still vary in background knowledge and experience. However, in both groups, it is possible to customize classes for students to be more strategic learners.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Asking and answering questions about a text is the strategy that helps students focus on the meaning of the text. As a teacher, I can help by modeling both asking good questions and strategies for finding the answers in the text.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Doing science entails defining a biological problem or question, addressing the problem through experimentation, and interpreting the findings. Therefore, in my teaching style, I have incorporated a diversity of teaching methods and strategies that address the classroom’s necessities. Experimentation could be library and internet research; for example, while teaching Taxonomy, I provide the students with information on etymology. Through their research, they achieve familiarity with word roots, suffixes, and prefixes, so they can eliminate the need to memorize separately, seemingly endless lists of essential words.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I deeply support a move toward project-based learning as a way of increasing student’s engagement and creativity. My experience is that project-based instruction keeps students motivating from the beginning. Therefore, many units in my classroom are created from sequences – sections with well-rounded activities that make a path who would end with a design (engineering, art). The sequences are the following: engage, define a problem, explore, develop possible solutions, explain findings, make a design, optimize a design (reflection). Each sequence has a narrative to connect the previous one and aims to blend the following one. The number and length of the sequences depend on the students’ age and objectives of the unit. However, no sequence is without hands-on activity or experiment.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
It depends on the material. For example. While I am teaching Physiology, after a series of labs where the students use techniques to investigate hormones, they engage in role-play, acting out the endocrine glands’ roles. I also held review sessions while teaching Cytology to connect functions of cell organelles with job positions in one plant.
How do you build a student’s confidence in a subject?
A student’s emotional development must celebrate their achievement. After the competition in each unit, every student is awarded at least one learner attribute from the learner profile. The goal is to collect them all by the end of the course.
How do you evaluate a student’s needs?
The base for cultivating an interest in science is that science is about wondering and questioning the world around us. I have always felt right about that, and I have always wanted to help my students get science into their life. At the beginning of every class, I would engage the students through hands-on activities to obtain an environment that fosters curiosity. Consequently, I managed to achieve an environment in which the students understand and maintain their attention during class lectures.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student’s needs?
As a result of 20 years of teaching experience with high school seniors, I feel more than comfortable balancing the level of the lesson taught with the needs of the individual. I respond appropriately to shy, withdrawn, or disruptive students. Education could be personalized to every student by using different teaching techniques, and I am always willing to address every student as an individual. The reason is that they are all unique, which as a biologist, I have an obvious view of.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
My tutoring materials are focused on specific grade levels or exams. They include guide materials, video lessons, and practice quizzes to help students’ learning or exam prep.
|Environmental Systems And Societies SL||