CROATIA: STUDENTS AND TEACHERS FINALISED THE SCHOOL YEAR BY STARTING CHANGES

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Teachers and students from five schools in Croatia that participate in the project “Start the Change!” concluded the school year with a number of changes that they have started and implemented together. After they have received the results of the focus groups conducted with a group of students from every school, and also recommendations for the further work and improvement for every school, each of them started with their unique processes of the change. All of them decided to start from the focus groups results and the recommendations, gathered the group of students that will work on the school projects, but also made addition surveys with all or majority of students with a goal to collect student’s point of view of the problems they are facing and their ideas to address them.

Commercial and Trade School Bjelovar called their project “The colours are in us” aiming at adapting the premises of the school according to the needs of students. The series of schools actions that were led by students themselves followed (students made an analysis of the use of school lockers and proposed the removal of the unnecessary; suggested buying stools; initiated the procurement of stumps for the school yard for an “outdoor classroom”, established cooperation with student cooperative in sewing the seat cushions, etc). Students also initiated an introduction of a new elective course in the field of financial literacy. In the Elementary School “Ivan Meštrović” the team involved students actively in changing and adapting some of the key school documents (e.g. code of ethics, rules for election of the best student of the year etc.) so that they better reflect the needs and the voice of students; they improved the management and coordination of School Student Council; supported parents through workshops on supporting children in learning, motivated them to involve in school’s every day life by sharing their professional and life experiences in direct work with students et. They are also working on the stronger connection between teachers and students and on the support to class teachers in their management role.

In High School “Dugo Selo” the team decided to address the mental health problems of students so they gathered students form the School Student Council to design posters with the advices for all the students on how to deal with the most common problems such as stress, anxiety, depression. The team also asked all the students to express their needs and wishes about the changes they wanted to see in their school – these suggestions are further discussed on the meetings of the Student Council.

Similar form of gathering of student voices developed also Medical School for Nursing Vrapče – they called their project “In My Shoes”. The general objective is to develop a culture of dialogue, and through the active participation of students in school, make the school a more pleasant place with mutual respect. The students made posters and leaflets informing all students on how to send suggestions for discussion – a virtual and real “mailbox” together with developed structure of administrating suggestions and addressing them on the regular meeting with school administration. The team is also raising awareness about the importance of the personal change which everybody has in his or her hands so they conducted a series of workshops in personal development “I Choose Change!”. Finally, Administrative School Zagreb decided to work extensively with teachers on their understanding of the importance of nurturing mutual respect on the relation teacher-student and on better coordination among teachers. Also, they’ve decided to work on the improvement of students’ active participation in school’s process mainly through the Students’ School Council, so they’ve organized a meeting of the president of the School Council with school principal to discuss about the problems and the needs of students and the ways they plan to address them.

One more “pandemic” school year is behind them, and like schools all over the world they have faced the number of challenges in the organization of the class, and especially in the organization of the extracurricular activities, school projects and students gathering formally and informally etc. The new school year in front of us will still be full of challenges but the strong foundations these schools set in the framework of the “Start the Change!” project will undoubtedly enable them to continue to involve students actively and learn from them while supporting their participation.

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