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“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.” words by Nikos Kazantzakis.

My name is Natalija Budinski, and I math teacher from Serbia. I have been selected as one of three hundred Microsoft innovative teachers in the world in 2018 and 2019. This is my story of how I made a bridge to my students during pandemic times. The first step was to make an online classroom, where I collected my students and started to share teaching materials. I have noticed that it is quite demanding to send students traditionally based materials, so I have started to apply different teaching approaches. In order to explain students about the importance of polynomials, I have asked a professional pharmacist Aleksandra Vislavski to help in explaining why mathematics and polynomials are important to the pharmacy.

Students also made videos on how to solve tasks, so now we have a great repository of mathematical tasks that could be helpful in learning mathematics to other students. 

Also, all the time I have prepared individual tasks for my students, such as a sundial, or how to connect mathematics and art. For that purpose, when students were learning complicated mathematical concepts related to geometry, we connected Mondrian’s art and quadrilaterals. One of the important things that I have experienced in these difficult times is how to become a responsible citizen and contribute to my community. Before pandemic, I have received 3d printers in order to apply in my classroom. Since the schools were closed I have printed 3d face-shields for medical workers. That caught the attention of local media, but also educational researchers in Finland, who presented my work at a conference in his talk. I have also been a part of local campaign #stayathome  

Every situation can be turned into a learning activity. Learning can happen everywhere and anytime. This global pandemic situation, even though hard opened many opportunities to be better teachers, better persons, and better students.  

Written by Natalia Budinski