Teachers at the Heart winner - Ksenia Immel

Ms Ksenia Immel teaches at the British Language Club School in Russia, where she is known for her ability to use technology-based tools and to set up creative projects which unite the whole school.

After learning she had won the Teachers at the Heart scholarship, Ksenia said: “Thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity to take a course at the NILE Institute. I am so excited!” 

Here she tells us more about her award-winning project. 

What was the goal of your project?

"As a practicing English language teacher, I needed a tangible project to give real focus for students improving their speaking, listening and writing skills. For many students, the fear of their speaking not being 'correct enough' is paralyzing, so, I needed a project to boost students' confidence. As our school is quite new, another goal was to set up a collaborative project to unite students and to foster a sense of community."

What did the project involve?

"The first project, which started in November 2014, was 'British Club Oscar Night'. Students had three months to write, direct and shoot short films on the topic Love. The idea was to post films on the school website and to show them in February as part of St Valentine's Day celebrations. Oscar Night Awards Show took place in March. Our students had a chance to strike a pose on the red carpet and spend the evening like stars. The event was such a great success that it was decided to start another video project.
In September 2015, 'BC News' project was launched. Reporting on school events pupils have a chance to develop their language abilities. The fact that the project is 'real' and students work is accessible to a wide varied audience helps to create a higher standard of work."

How did it benefit your students?

"The most important factor in determining the quality of the school environment is the  students' relationships with other students and with the school's staff. The collaboration on the projects fostered a sense of community. Students can learn so much from each other, often more than they can learn from teachers! Groups of older and younger students had to work together. For younger students a chance to cooperate with older students is just invaluable and it empowered them to do their best. Video is an excellent teaching and learning tool. Making a video or a news report, students share a remarkable variety of personal experiences, values and ways of understanding. The language they learn in the classroom is the tool they use to shape their thoughts and feelings. It is more than a way of exchanging information and extending ideas, it is their means of reaching out and connecting with other people. The most beneficial component of the projects is the emphasis on teamwork, rather than which film or news report is the best. Students therefore learn to collaborate and depend on one another, not simply to win, but to achieve a goal. The students and staff benefited from being challenged and achieved more than they had thought they could."

Did it benefit other teachers?

"Teachers said that they benefited personally and professionally from their participation in the projects. Teachers noticed that the projects helped them to improve their relationships with their students and increased their understanding of their students’ abilities. Students participated in the projects so enthusiastically that it sometimes surprised the teachers. Any methodology that creates an atmosphere of enthusiasm for language learning is one that should be encouraged."

How were the results measured?

"All students were excited to watch videos made by their friends. The projects attracted hundreds of visitors to our school website. There were polls to get students and parents' feedback. When the students were surveyed, they answered that the projects gave them confidence and they would definitely like to do them again. Parents told us that they were extremely proud to watch their children speaking English in the videos. They also mentioned that the projects helped their children to develop technological skills. More and more students want to take extra classes to improve their pronunciation skills."

They said:

Ksenia was nominated by Ms. Irina Remkhe, Principle of British Club Language School. Of her work, she said:

“Ksenia is a teacher who inspires others to challenge the limits of what’s possible and encourages others to create bold solutions. She is a teacher who demonstrates ingenuity and resourcefulness, who approaches teaching and learning creatively, and who is using the classroom to inspire innovation, creativity, problem solving and critical thinking. Ksenia truly deserves the prize, since she is really a fantastic teacher loved and respected by everyone here. Thank you very much for giving teachers the chance to be proud of the results of their work!”

Our judges verdict:

“Excellent use of video-making projects to motivate students and to get them involved by giving them opportunities to express themselves, their humour and their creativity.”

What's next for Ksenia Immel?

As part of their scholarship prize, Ksenia will be attending a two-week training course at the NILE teacher training institute in Norwich this summer.  Find out more about the courses available and how Macmillan Education is working in partnership with NILE.

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