Teach For Bulgaria Class of 2019-2021: Antonia and Nikolay

April 15 marks the end of this year’s recruitment campaign. Some of the very first candidates have already successfully completed the entire selection process and have started their preliminary training which helps them get ready to start teaching in September of 2019. They will also go through an intensive Summer Institute with both theoretical and practical modules, including working with students.

We present two participants from the new Teach For Bulgaria class of 2019-2021. You can find more information about them in this article. If you want to join them and empower students to develop their potential and be successful, you can still apply at zaednovchas.bg/participant/ by April 15.


Antonia Kancheva: I decided to become part of the system because change takes decades and I wanted to contribute

Antonia is 29, originally from Shumen. She has degrees in journalism and economics and business management as well as six years of experience in the media. Her latest role has been editor and news anchor at the Bulgarian National Radio in Shumen. She has supported children’s access to quality education as a leader mentoring young students on their way to receiving the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. She is ready to give her contribution to education and do whatever it takes to help change people’s limiting mindsets.


Why did you decide to apply for Teach For Bulgaria’s program?

I attended a Teach For Bulgaria event as a journalist and was fascinated by the mission to provide equal access to quality education for every child. Hundreds of young ambitious teachers all over the country are committed to this cause; they all have different professional backgrounds, but have chosen to dedicate two years of their lives in an effort to bring about positive change in education. This event made me realize that everyone keeps pointing out all sorts of problems – low academic performance, lack of motivation, bullying and aggression – but how many people have actually done something about it. I decided to become part of the system because change takes decades and I want to contribute.

I believe that every child has the potential to grow and be successful. The problem is that various socioeconomic factors lead to segregation in education and children from rural areas lag behind their peers in the city. These children grow up in social isolation and often lack a reliable and caring family environment because their parents are migrant workers and they are raised by their grandparents. Children from poor regions lead lives full of misery and hardship; they are forced to grow up prematurely and take on responsibilities which are not meant for children like raising and caring for their younger siblings or figuring out ways to provide for the family, for example.

The combination of these factors stalls their progress. They need additional support, a role model who believes in them and who can help them discover their strengths and hidden talents. I would like to be this role model and help them develop the skills they’ll need to be successful in whichever career path they choose to pursue. I would like to help them grow as individuals capable of making their own decisions and taking responsibility for their own actions.


What do you expect from these two years as a teacher?

I expect to understand the workings of our education system and face the same daily challenges as all other teachers. I realize that the responsibility I’m taking on with my conscious decision to become a teacher is huge. Our education system is going through a transformation at the moment – with the integration of new methods and approaches. As a teacher I plan on using all available resources to engage students in the learning process and help them develop their critical and analytical thinking, teamwork skills, creativity, problem solving skills, and self-reflection.

I’ll go through the intensive Summer Academy and Summer Institute which are going to equip me with the necessary tools to set my goals for the next two years. I’m happy I got the chance to join Teach For Bulgaria’s family and I feel like I’m part of a bigger community united by the same goal – better quality education for our children. I’ve met like-minded people who share my beliefs and mindsets, I feel supported by all team members at Teach For Bulgaria. All of this will help me grow as a professional and be successful in the classroom.   

I’m positive that my participation in the program will serve as a springboard for my personal development as well. The trainings will help me develop my planning skills, goal setting abilities, self-reflection, effective execution, and communication flexibility.  


What kind of education do students need to be successful and happy?

Quality education helps people lead mindful, fuller, and creative lives. It provides essential tools such as basic literacy, mathematical, and logic skills. Information is more accessible than ever in today’s digital world and children have to learn how to select and analyze it. The era of subject matter knowledge is coming to an end and the shift is towards developing children’s so-called soft skills. Students should think critically, learn how to work in teams, apply what they’ve learned by solving actual problems and working on different case studies.

This will get them engaged in the learning process, they won’t just be passive listeners in the classroom. This is a serious challenge because fellow teachers have shared that children are used to this old method of teaching – they expect teachers to just “recite” their lessons and any teamwork attempts inevitably lead to arguments and confrontations. This is because of decades of purposeful work aimed at turning students into passive receivers of whatever information is presented to them. Changing this mindset would again take purposeful hard work. But when hundreds of teachers are committed to this process and believe in the potential of every child, I believe that change is possible.


Nikolay Ivanchev: People who share the same ideas, mission, and work ethic could be successful in anything they put their minds to

Nikolay has a degree in economics from Dimitar A. Tsenov Academy of Economics in Svishtov. He has worked as a manager for many years, but after getting selected to participate in Teach For Bulgaria’s program and visiting one of our partner schools in the village of Disevitsa, Pleven, he realized he couldn’t wait to start his teaching career and started teaching economics in January of this year. And for the very first time in his professional life he now finally gets to experience the rewarding sense of job satisfaction.


Why did you decide to apply for Teach For Bulgaria’s program?

I decided to apply for Teach For Bulgaria’s program because I believe that we need to change the quality of education we provide to our children. The organizational goals are completely aligned with my own ideas of how education should evolve. The shortage of motivated and ambitious teachers leads to ill-equipped graduates. This is where Teach For Bulgaria intervenes by training the teachers our system needs.

I was fascinated by their drive, ambition, and decisiveness to work towards this change. If we want to change something, it is solely up to us to do it. The energy of the entire team of the organization gave me the motivation to leave my profession and start teaching even before the beginning of the program. People who share the same ideas, mission, and work ethic could be successful in anything they put their minds to.


What do you expect from these two years as a teacher?

I expect to show my students why school matters. I’ll prove that knowledge is the most important window to the world by being the best role model I can. Children should realize that the institution of the school is the most important one because it can provide them with knowledge they can apply in real life and be successful. My biggest expectation is to see proud, knowledgeable, and capable students who respect their teachers and their school at the end of these two years. I want everyone to know about Teach For Bulgaria’s mission and to help students the best they can. An educated nation is a strong nation. It’s all up to us.


What kind of education do students need to be successful and happy?

All students have the right to quality education. Separating them based on any criteria halts their development and demotivates them. They need individual and holistic support from day one until they graduate. We as their teachers should treat them with respect, develop their interests and values, and learn how to apply new methods of teaching so we can provide them with quality education. Every child needs attention. We should believe in them and teach them how to respect each other. This is their inalienable right and we can help them thanks to Teach For Bulgaria.


"Заедно в час" подготвя способни хора да бъдат мотивиращи учители, за да може всяко дете в България да има достъп до качествено образование.
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