Teacher Vese Vesela Bogdanovic sets up her classroom in Koco Racin elementary school in the village of Ivanjevci, Macedonia, as “a colorful country from fairy tales and children books.” One day, students wear costumes of comic book heroes as they do math equations to find the key to getting to a hidden lake. Another day, they write letters on “royal stationery” they created themselves.
Through games and play-acting, Bogdanovic said, she tries to make her classes “magical.” Her students, who create tools for their learning games from scrap and other materials, choose their own paths through this educational kingdom.
Her teaching method involves listening as much as talking, she said. The students are her partners and help guide her own discovery of new teaching methods. She keeps in touch as they advance through school, recruiting some as mentors to younger children.
She networks with other teachers and features videos and examples of curricula online. Her students connect with children from other schools via Skype.
Because the school is located in a region that has been affected by ethnic and religious strife, Bogdanovic prioritizes instilling respect for others and teaching cooperation.
Bogdanovic is one of 50 finalists in the 2015 edition of the $1 million Global Teacher Prize. Often called the Nobel Prize for teaching, it is open to teachers in every school in every country of the world.