Category Archives: School Leadership

“You know nothing John Snow” or how to know when and what to do


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Thesis writing is the culmination of two years education experience at Nazarbayev University GSE. I feel like I am a trunk for the treasure that accumulates knowledge then dazzles the finder with gold ideas given by Professors. However, it is not always possible to demonstrate outstanding knowledge and guarantee one hundred percent preparedness to share all golds that you have. The major problem is the lack of time or pure time management. I have read several blogposts about the time management as  “Either you run the day, or the day runs you”-Jim RohnElastic time: How to gain control over your free time? / Laura Vanderkam (Deconstruction) and incorporate authors’ ideas and recommendations. It is crucial to mention here that there is no one receipt for success and everyone has his own. In this blogpost I want to convince mother-researchers of GSE and share with my experience of being multitasking and productive.

I am a person who likes challenging himself and take the risks to complete impossible missions. But this time I took the chance of studying at GSE not as the game nor as the life circumstance, but mature decision to do the step forward to develop personal growth. Being a mother of two toddlers and woman in Kazakh family needs a cold mind, strong character, and absolute health. Yes, superwomen exist and to be so you should work hard and be aware that every day will bring new challenges.  I can say that I am in the process and still working on time management and health to make my days happy and productive.

The first thing which is very important in managing your time and your life is to know your philosophy of living and be skilled to set priorities. My month calendar looks crazy, but when my children need extra attention I slow down and postpone other plans because children are my first priority.  The same with the other fields of my life, but I need to mention that family’s support takes a huge role to achieve positive results.

The second is working on attitudes towards everything you do. It is subjective, but I can judge people by their doings. When I see that a woman bakes beautiful and delicious cakes I can say that she has a good potential to win the Olympic prize, to do successful business or to write a perfect Thesis, but it depends on her will. When a person aspires to do his activities accurately and be concentrated the product will be valuable. So, stay focused and concentrated while writing your thesis.

The last but not list important factor is love. It is trivially, but without loving yourself, your surrounding, your activities it is hard to accomplish plans and gain tremendous results. The thesis is also like your child, your life project that needs attention and positive feelings, therefore love your thesis with its theories, deadlines, and challenges and you will write it in one breath.

Overall, I didn’t want to do the shopping list but share my real reflections on planning and managing your time and your life.  I hope that this blogpost helps you to remind simple but important aspects for writing a successive thesis.



Who is your superhero?


I am a researcher. During the time when I was collecting data (interviewing) for my thesis, I came across an unexpected discovery. STEM teachers (whom I interviewed) asserted that students often got uninterested towards the lesson. In such an atmosphere one student complained: ‘If only my STEM teacher was a superhero, I would always stay focused!’ Despite sarcastic notion of the student, there seems to be two huge issues hidden under this statement. Imaginary ‘superheroes’ have a greater influence on our children than real educators. Mass media does not properly enlighten real heroes. Do we have real heroes? Sure!

“Bilim-Innovation” Lyceums (BILs) in cooperation with Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan presents…

Superheroes of STEM education in Kazakhstan: Ordabayev Almas Yerkinovich and Zhumadilov Yerzhan Yesetovich


Almas Yerkinovich is a chemistry teacher. Despite his young age, not only teaches his students the basics of chemistry, but also brings up their ability to get to the point of being on their own, always be ready for the competitions that temper the character. He is the winner of the republican olympiad among teachers. Winner of the regional contest “Best author’s program”. He also holds a bronze medal at the International Chemistry Olympiad (Giongsan, Korea, 2006), a silver medal at the international Mendeleev Chemistry Olympiad (Yerevan, Armenia, 2006). He has a number of honorary letters and letters of thanks.

The effectiveness of the work of Almas Yerkinovich is confirmed by his victories at various olympiads. For only 5 years of pedagogical activity, his pupils have already managed to stand out and become prizewinners of regional, republican and international olympiads.

Yerzhan Yesetovich is a physics teacher at Taraz BIL. He is a talented physics teacher and a winner of many physics olympiads not only on individual basis but also a hero who impacted his students to be as successful as he is. He also prepares materials in a new format for physics students to get prepared for Unified National Testing. Moreover, Yerzhan Yesetovich is considered to be an innovative teacher by being an author of articles such as «Benefits of project based-learning» published in Stavropol, Russia.

These are only two teachers from many hero-STEM-teachers in Kazakhstan.

To conclude, I do not want future students to search for ‘imaginary’ heroes elsewhere. I want them to see heroes by looking at their teachers and get motivated to learn.



Globalization and language education


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How English became a global language? Which language is going to be next global language? How the dominance of language affect education? and other many thought-provoking questions were discussed in the “Globalization and language” course. The term globalization bothered me these two years since I frequently used phrases such as “in the globalized world”, “the global arena”, “in the globalization era”. I took the chance to understand and be aware of what the globalization means, identify its key features, define and apply its concepts and explore its relation to education. As our instructor said, “When you will go out from this room you will look at surrounding World through the global eye” (not word by word) (Sparks, 2017). I will be with you honest, I obtained the global look at what is going on all around the World and why the globalization is important not only for the countries but for individuals as well. Therefore this blog post reveals globalization from my perspectives.

In the discussion to follow, I will present my definition of globalization, drawing on the ideas of key authors writing on the topic. There is a significant consensus that globalization refers to the process of exchanging global ideas, recognizing and adsorbing other ideologies, perceptions, and beliefs addressing diversity in different domains of life (Block, 2010; Byram & Parmenter, 2012; Canagarajah, 2016). Examples of this include Block’s (2010) characteristics of globalization that it is the “ever-increasing interconnectedness of the world” (p. 300). In other words, globalization connects diverse people in the framework of similar policies in the economy, education and cultural relations for empowering the interconnectedness and interdependence. Although there are various interpretations of globalization, in this blog post, I am using the term to mean shifts in education policies that shape new ideologies.

Block (2010) describes globalization through Appadurai’s definition of “types of forces and flows” that calls 5-scapes (p. 291). They are ethnoscapes, technoscapes, financescapes, mediascapes, and ideoscapes which are ever-changing dimensions (Appadurai, 1990 as cited in Block, 2010). The author emphasizes the influences of migrants, asylum seekers, exiles, and tourists (ethnoscapes); fast intercultural communication through technology (technoscapes); financial and economic relations between countries (financescapes); TV, newspaper, magazines etc. (mediascapes) and flows of ideas about human rights, fear of terrorism, environmentalism etc. (ideoscapes) which build powerful “imagine ideologies” that depicts globalization. Block (2010) differentiates these dimensions and identifies that shifts of education policies refer to ideoscapes that conceptualizes particular domains in the education field.

My discussion will draw heavily on Byram and Parmenter’s (2012) understandings of globalization who emphasize how the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment (CEFR) became the global education policy which influences changes in other multicultural countries. They assert Dale’s (2007) theory that “initiative for change comes from outside the state, and that the scope includes not just policy goals but also processes”, saying that while launching policies countries consider experiences and practices of other countries and stipulate building new processes of other lifestyles (as cited in Byram & Parmenter, 2012).  Thus, CEFR as the global education policy used by different countries to increase social cohesion and self-awareness in relation to human linguistic rights.

Based on authors’ key features of globalization mentioned above I am building the conceptual definition of globalization which can be defined as the process of intercultural communication, interchanging practices, ideologies and beliefs that stimulates effects on economic, political, cultural and individual changes.   Although definitions of globalization extend to abstract influences of globalization in every demand I am focusing on the relation of globalization to language education.

This definition of globalization and its relationship with education will help me in my analysis as I try to understand and explain how globalization shape identities through education policies which might be borrowed from other countries. Also, it is important to understand how I can create my own conceptual framework and apply in the discussion.


Block, D. (2010). Globalization and language teaching. The handbook of language and globalization, 287-304.

Byram, M., & Parmenter, L. (Eds.). (2012). The Common European Framework of Reference: The globalisation of language education policy (23). Multilingual matters.


Artificial use of artificial intelligence


We are familiar with the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our everyday life: smart cars, video games, movie recommendation services and many others (more examples are here). But some countries, like UAE, go even further. It is the first country to introduce the position of the Minister of Artificial Intelligence. Moreover, Emirates introduce AI technologies into the classrooms with the use of advanced software and robots. The speed of technology development and implementation in education is impressive but can teachers keep pace with it?

On one of the recent conferences, Andrew Nolan from GEMS Education surprised the public with the variety of software and hardware used for schooling in Dubai:  Microsoft Imagine Academy, Microsoft Azure cognitive services, IBM Watson, Singularity University, Kinteract; Learnometer that optimizes the classroom environment for better learning; even the robot which in near future will take most of the administrative work and give teachers more time to work with children. This variety of resources allows the development of competencies needed for the 21 century and really shows how valuable technology is going to be in the modern world.


(Screenshot from a movie “I, Robot” by Alex Proyas)

Although it all sounds fun I was feeling lost in such a variety of technologies. It is like I am in the rally and everybody uses GPS navigator to keep moving and I am looking for breadcrumbs on the ground (credits to Brothers Grimm). So I was wondering if I am so lost in the technology development how are teachers capable of advancing their computer literacy so fast in UAE? I mean, in-service teachers. Are they get trained every half a year? Do they have IT support teams or assistants at schools? Trying to answer all these questions I found the results of the survey of 100 UAE educators which was conducted in April 2017 and revealed that: 

38 per cent of educators do not have the training to integrate technology into the way they teach, while 48 per cent of educators blamed a lack of access to available technology as the reasons for not using ICTs in classrooms. A further 42 per cent of educators said they lack the time to learn how to integrate technology into teaching” 

This data demonstrates that even though it is claimed that advanced technology is widely used in the classroom, not all the teachers have enough skills to realize its full potential. Also, they do not have enough time to explore programs features or even lack the software itself. The sampling is quite small and may not be representative of all the teachers in the country but still provides us with some context of UAE teachers.    

Based on the results of the survey, not only Artificial Intelligence implementation is important but also Natural Intelligence appropriate training. Teachers need support and time to learn new things just as their students. And all brand new shiny machines do not make any difference if teachers do not know what to do with them.

P.S. Additional interesting fact about UAE Ministries is that they have 3 Ministers in the field of education: Minister of Education, Minister of State for Public Education, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills. In Kazakhstan, there is only one: the Minister of Education and Science. Whether such division of responsibilities is beneficial to the quality of education or not is a good area for research.


Order with consequences



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In the podcast Is This Working? different teachers, educators, parents talk about discipline at school and ask very simple but important questions: what is the reasonable level of discipline? Why do we need kids to unpack their bookbags silently? Is all this discipline for a child or for a teacher? And the most important one: What are the consequences of the punishment for discipline violation?

The podcast starts with the question what teachers would do if a boy does not want to take his hat off during the class. And different approaches to discipline are discussed in its three acts with different storylines. Some stories argue that keeping discipline does not prepare children for a real life because staying quiet and obedient is not always a good way to achieve something in life. Other persuade that not punishment but conversations about the offenses work better as children learn to think about their emotions, emotions of others and collaborate in the society and this is exactly what they need in future. These are all wonderful questions, suggestions, ideas to check and prove by research. What I want to share is another phenomenon that I have found in this podcast which answers the question What are the consequences of the punishment for discipline violation?



I learned about the “discipline policies that push students out of the classroom and into the criminal justice system at alarming rates—a phenomenon known as the “school-to-prison pipeline“. Moreover, starting from early age black and Latino students are punished more harshly than their white peers and this excessive punishment makes it more likely for them to get in prison once they become adults.   There was a data from College Station at Texas A&M which documented all the suspensions in 2000-2002:

 “And they determined that African American and Hispanic students were twice as likely to receive an out-of-school suspension than their white peers for their first offense. When they looked at African American boys in Texas, 83% were suspended at least once. And usually, they were suspended a lot more than once. That includes anything a school calls suspension.

And what kind of infractions were they getting suspended for? Most of the time, these were not for big things, like hitting a teacher or bringing a weapon to school. They were for things like disrespect, insubordination, willful defiance, the kind of incident that often begins when an angry kid won’t take his hat off”

What do you think about this data? This is the result of the attitude they get at school. They are punished seriously even for minor mistakes. I immediately recalled the blog written by chsherbakov that I read recently about the intrinsic bias against Black schoolers which is seen even in the language of documents framing desegregation.

What I want to say is the issue of keeping discipline in the classroom can be controversial but there is another dimension of the problem which we should take into consideration. There is an attitude which starting from the very early age creates a special mindset, special environment and changes the future of many little kids. This attitude makes them feel bad and unwelcome in the society. This attitude puts them into the conflict with the school, with their parents, with the law. This makes them look for people who would value them no matter what and, unfortunately, very often these people are not the best examples to follow.



The world has changed. The way we educate our children should too.


photo credits to


Just ask yourself: should the education be reshaped? Even though the answer will vary from person to person, it is impossible to respond unless we ask ourselves what kind of world we are going in.

Imagine how the factory looked like in the XIX century and how it looks now. The same for the transport system or the bank. We will see massive changes. The only domain that looks the same as in the XIX century is a school. A class where the children sit in front of the teacher in rows and study the subjects according to the curriculum, which, in its essence, was also created in the XIX century. Obviously, this model is obsolete. But how should it change?

Now we observe and expect that the total number of changes in the world of the near future – technological, political, social – will be so great that we simply cannot understand what we are preparing the current first-graders. Thus, the first thing we have to say to ourselves: guys, we need to prepare a person so that he can react as much as possible to the challenges in a changing world. We are moving towards a period when people will constantly be “scared”. For instance, how should one cope with the news that his/her domain no longer exists, that it was replaced by robots? Or that there have been such political changes that his/her country does not exist anymore. In theory, considering unstable political issues in the global arena, this may happen to many of us when we will suddenly find ourselves nowhere and have to adapt to the changed conditions swiftly.

The problem of the current school is that it was created under the prevailing industrial model of the society of the XIX century. At that time, it was necessary to have a lot of workers who obey the boss, do what they are told, do not go beyond job descriptions and according to the template can perform the prescribed tasks. Preferably highly specialised. And in a world of uncertainty – this is the riskiest thing that you can think of. The school educates discipline, submission, lack of creativity, application of templates. That is directly contradictory to what we are moving to.

So, by being a part of something revolutionary in our country, how do you think how the education and schools, in particular, should be reshaped?

P.S. this blog post is dedicated to my grandfather who used to say that the more schools we have, the brighter future of the country will be. I love you, I remember you, grandpa. Hoping that one day your “dream schools” come true…

Is it possible not to overload yourself, but CREATE? Calling for MOTIVATION!


Photo credit to @uaxi

  Wake up, warm up.
  Take a mirror, ‘show up’.
  Breathe in, breathe out.
  You will have a great start!

The poems credit in this blog post to Ayana Mukuzhanova

Have you ever thought that you are overwhelmed with all your assignments and writing thesis? Do you wake up and go to sleep with the only thought: “I must do it!” ? You would better say “I want to do it!”. Now I would like to tell you one important sentence. You are not the only one, YOU CAN DO IT! Is it easy to say? Yes, it is. Is it easy to do? (Silence). By writing this post, which is far from academic writing, I would like to support all education professionals who are struggling to write their thesis and papers. I know, this time will probably hit you one day. I am not an expert to give recommendations, but I am a Master student, who could share some pieces of advice and speak from my own experience.

  Great start, heads up!
  Simply have a try out.
  You are making it up,
  And get rid of that doubt.

Firstly, try to see positive moments in your study, follow your OWN progress, and look back. Do you see the changes? This should MOTIVATE you and bring a positive wave into your studying. Do not try to compare your progress with the progress of another person. You are unique, you are different, and you are great!

  You have done, well done!
  Now let’s visit the town.
  Take some time to relax,
  You deserve to break ice.

Secondly, find your hobby. Do not tell that you do not have time for it. You have. Instead of procrastinating by doing nothing, with your hobby you will not procrastinate anymore, you will get a CREATIVE and relaxing product. For me, it is writing various poems. In this way, you will not be overloaded by studying.

  I love my thesis,
  My thesis loves me.
  Let’s create a big deal
  To support the ideal.

Thirdly, you should remember that a substantial amount of people all around the world write thesis papers, and they did this! Think of it as “It is just another paper” (Montgomery, 2017). You should understand how much you are interested in the topic of your thesis. The principle: The more…, the better. The more you are interested in it, the more you will get a joy. After you add your voice on a particular topic, you will get into this field, and become the part of it.

  Time passes by,
  Sometimes I don’t mind.
  If I had another chance,
  I would think of this twice.

Next point to share with you is time value. Do not think of the result and end of the process. Otherwise, you will miss the precious time and all the positive moments which you will never face the second time. In the case of academic writing, write everything step by step. Do not write for the sake of writing, do your best, and you will be okay.

  Never think of some feedback,
  Like it is a huge mistake.
  It is just a third hand
  That will help you till the end.

The last, but not the least piece of advice is to look at feedback that you get from your Professors as a great help, and not a punishment. At first, it was difficult for me to accept some feedback, and I got upset. Now I understand that I am in the process of getting knowledge, and I will learn my whole life. There will always be feedback, both positive and negative. The only think is to LEARN from them.

To conclude, I would like to thank my MA NUGSE id2016 group mates. You are fantastic! All of you will do their best to overcome some difficulties and take out of it only POSITIVE outcomes. I hope that this post would support you and all education professionals.

Learning languages for the sake of…?


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The episode of the podcast “Is Learning a Foreign Language Really Worth It?” was dedicated to the issues of learning foreign languages in terms of psychological and economic (ROI)  pros and cons. It was clear that the creator did not try to persuade us, because he just had been asking diverse questions upon this topic from experts in psychology and economics to inform the listeners about this issue. It is a very tough question to discuss. By listening to and taking some notes of the experts’ viewpoints, voices of children, I also would like to add some ideas of my own.

The presented information by Boaz Keysar, Albert Saiz, Bryan Caplan was supported by researches. Each of them gave a particular argument supporting it by introducing to us evidence and examples. For instance, Albert Saiz conducted a study with 9000 graduates in the USA. He highlighted that there is a low financial return if graduates know the second language. The speaker states that “If you speak the second language, you get only 2% more wage premium”, it is compared to Turkey, Russia, Israel contexts, where knowing English as a foreign language gives an opportunity to get a salary from 10 to 20% more. I think that there is similar tendency in Kazakhstan as well. People who know English would get a chance to be employed to a well-paid and prestigious job. Adding to this point, the proficiency in the Kazakh language is also essential while getting a job.

Many psychological insights about bilingual people were mentioned by another interviewee. I would like to describe only one of them. Boaz Keysar suggests that learners are ready to take risks and think of dilemmas in a foreign language frequently. From my own experience, I support this point. It may be because of the mentality, but I am not adapted to take risks in the Kazakh or Russian languages. For instance, I would never be as honest and brave as while speaking English; and I cannot elaborate on the reasons for now. While listening, I have heard the voices of children talking about the benefits of learning a foreign language. It was shocking for me that many of them, in the beginning of the episode, told about the prestige. I consider it as ‘worrying moment’, because they think of only material benefits. On the other side, they mentioned the opportunity of communicating with people all around the world. Thus, I found the balance, and the ‘worrying moment’ subsided. Overall, these constructive talks gave me food for thoughts.

I got to know a lot of new information, and I would do a further research on this topic. I would definitely recommend listening to this episode to everyone, because it discloses the topic of being bilingual from diverse perspectives. Find some time to listen to the podcast, it is worth it. If you listen to this episode, what will you agree and argue with most?

For every researcher, help

WhatsApp Image 2017-09-20 at 18.19.48

The week 18-22 of September I was lucky to take part in the first in Europe and Central Asia cognitive testing of the module on inclusive education developed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Washington Group. Students of Nazarbayev University completed training on conducting interviews and tested the module on functional features of development and disability of children. Apart from gaining a huge experience in interviewing people and summarizing the results, we discovered a lot about UNICEF’s activities and programs in Kazakhstan. I want to share some knowledge and sources that will probably be useful for other young researchers.

UNICEF works across 190 countries protecting the rights of children, providing them with opportunities to study, and improving standards of living. The activities vary from country to country depending on the context of the country and living conditions. UNICEF supports children who fall a victim to violence, natural disasters, migrant crises or terroristic acts. In Kazakhstan, UNICEF is mostly involved in actions for the protection of children’s rights and research about children’s wellbeing.

1.jpg is a good source of publications and research studies on children’s living and studying conditions in Kazakhstan. One of the latest publications is “The statistical yearbook “Children of Kazakhstan” (available in 3 languages) which was published in June 2017 on a joint initiative of the Committee on Statistics of the Ministry of National Economy of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Representative Office of UNICEF in Kazakhstan. This yearbook contains all the statistical data about children in the Republic of Kazakhstan and includes such sections as Demographic Characteristics, Health and Healthy Lifestyle, Education, Leisure for Children, Social Protection of Children, Employment of Youth. Many others publications present reports on UNICEF activities in Kazakhstan and data analysis across different regions of the country.

Also, you can watch a series of simple and entertaining videos with the results of UNICEF’s studies (ex. Results of the study “Violence against children in the family” Results of the MICS – Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey in Kazakhstan).

I hope these resources will be useful for those who write about children’s education and their position in the society of Kazakhstan.

P.S. Do not forget to evaluate critically all the information you use in your research!

From ENU to NU: My Academic Shock Experience

It is going to be an emotional post perhaps, but I definitely need to pour my heart out to someone. I have been asked several times lately “what do you feel about studying at Nazarbayev University?” and normally my answer is “I am very happy to study here”. It’s true, but who can realize what lies behind this simple answer? I will tell you, guys, that behind this answer lies a year of shock, difficulties and internal struggle. And you know why? This is because the university, where I got my bachelor’s degree, had a totally different system of education, other principles, and even different worldview. It has taken me the whole year just to adapt to a new environment and get used to the new rules and requirements of NU. No, I am not against the Eurasian National University, but all the things that I have experienced here at NU last year prove again that universities like ENU do not provide a sufficient academic knowledge and do not develop academic skills. And let me explain why I think so.

Let’s start with the scariest thing I heard here in the first day I came: PLAGIARISM. I am very happy that it is not a scary word anymore, but it was. And I was surprised that the thing that was so absolutely normal and usual in my previous university has a name and is actually forbidden. No one had ever told me that it was bad. I had to accept it and fortunately, I’ve done it well, because my content and my own unique style of writing have turned out to be more important than just copy pasting someone’s ideas and thoughts. Thank you, NU.

Another thing that had been putting a lot of pressure on me, two things to be more precise, was READING ACADEMIC ARTICLES and WRITING ESSAYS. CONSTANTLY. Stop, stop, stop, let me just take a breath. I mean, are you serious? These articles are so mind-blowing, where do you get them? No one has ever told me that such kind of literature even exists! And these essays (oh my goodness, in ENGLISH). Who in this world cares what an ordinary person like me thinks or writes? Or, why didn’t we write essays at ENU?  What? 500 words? Is it possible?

Yes, these were my thoughts a year ago. And, thank God, I don’t think that way any longer. Reading articles has become an everyday routine that gives me not only a new piece of information but introduces me to the theories, concepts and conceptual frames that I can possibly use in my future research (MY RESEARCH. I can’t believe it). As for writing essays, do you have one more? Great. I’ll write it.

And RESEARCH is another new thing that I have encountered at NU. No comments here.

Finally, APA STYLE. This is what I have been struggling a lot with because even in this blog you can see that I am more a freestyle writer than the one who writes in a perfect academic way. Following certain rules in writing and always making sure that your essay is well-organized, clearly developed, accurately cited, has references and so on and so forth, were not my thing and it had taken me months to realize the importance of APA style formatting. But now, I am actually in love with it. I can see a huge progress and development in my writing style, mostly because of Mr. Montgomery’s lessons.  Thank you, professor.

Honestly, these four points I have mentioned are just the beginning, and they definitely have been the hardest things that I’ve experienced here. But who can imagine how happy I am to study at this wonderful university and face all those difficulties? I am happy indeed because it means that I can become a real researcher, a real educator, a real professional. It means I deserve all these things. We all deserve. That’s why we are here. At Nazarbayev University. Thank you, NU.