Education assistants transform teaching at the University of Prishtina
After a packed two-months of co-lecturing, learning and researching, University of Prishtina assistants Arlinda Bytyqi-Damoni and Arlinda Beka returned from their exchange programs at Indiana University.
“I teach chemistry at UP’s Faculty of Education,” explained Bytyqi-Damoni. She lectures at the Master’s program in Chemistry Education and is Chief of the Department of Science.
Her namesake and colleague, Arlinda Beka, also an assistant at UP’s Faculty of Education, teaches early childhood education and curricula development. “I also serve as Chief of the Department for Early-Childhood Education,” she added.
The Arlindas travelled to Bloomington late August 2016 for an academic exchange at the Indiana University School of Education. They spent their time working closely with various mentors from Indiana University, preparing for upcoming research initiatives, sitting in on lectures as students, and co-delivering lectures as teachers. The learning, however, hasn’t stopped there. “We’re both continuing to follow online lectures on research methods in education, offered by IU professor Gamze Ozogul,” stated Bytyqi-Damoni.
“This was the beauty of our exchange program,” added Beka. “We experienced Indiana University both as students and as academics.”
Advancing research capacities has been a focal-point in Indiana University’s long involvement with UP’s Faculty of Education. While at Bloomington, both UP assistants worked on starting several new research initiatives on the topic of natural sciences, the usage of ICT in education, and early-childhood education for Kosovo.
Having previously thought that their areas of interest do not overlap much, they have since adopted a mindset of interdisciplinarity and have started looking into joint-research ventures as well. Indiana University offered both of them one-year access passes to IU’s online library, which both described as an invaluable asset in their research journey.
The real magic to their exchange programs, however, happened after their return to Kosovo. Ms. Beka developed three updated curricula for classes in early education and curriculum development – and she is also working on structuring and writing a book with teaching material for early education. Ms. Bytyqi-Damoni has transformed her classrooms into active-learning havens. Both have moved away from the traditional teacher-role, and have embraced a learning style that places more spotlight and responsibility on students.
“The ultimate goal to all this for me is to have more and more students actively engage in learning and seek out learning on their own,” declared Bytyqi-Damoni. Ms. Beka added that her aim is to “change how we think about early childhood education systems, because every reform needs to start from early childhood.”
The partnership between Indiana University and the University of Prishtina Faculty of Education is made possible under the Transformational Leadership Program – Scholarships and Partnerships.
The Transformational Leadership Program - Scholarships and Partnerships (TLP-SP) is a partnership co-funded by USAID-Kosovo and the Government of Kosovo and administered by World Learning. The project, launched on February 24, 2014, will develop a cadre of leaders and equip the abilities of other Kosovars to drive change in priority economic, political, and social areas in Kosovo. Learn more at www.usaid-tlp-sp.org.
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