SCHOOLS IN CROATIA – TEACHER TRAINING PROGRAM STARTED!

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In November 2020 we brought together 15 teachers from five partner schools for a 2-day residential course in the town of Marija Bistrica in the vicinity of Zagreb.

The course covered first module of the educational program “START THE CHANGE: this is my change – empowering schools to enable student voice, participation and agency” that focused on exploring the topic of student voice. Ana Munivrana explored with teachers the significance of student voice and its relation to students’ mental health and Eli Pijaca Plavšić worked with teachers on exploring the significance of student voice in the context of world today and its importance for active citizenship of young people.

Teachers also had opportunity to find out about first results of the focus group research implemented with students from their schools. Nikola Baketa and Marko Kovačić, lead project researchers, presented them with selected themes that students of all five schools identified as problematic: online teaching, gender equality, students not being listened to, volunteering and student-teacher relationships. Although everyone is waiting to read the complete report on research findings, for this preview on results, teachers told us:

Useful feedback. Good insight into the student perspective, applicable.

Relevant and objective – an extra help of what our school is missing and what we can do to improve the situation.

Very interesting and stimulating. The first (and important) step is to HEAR the voice of the students. The source of many ideas for the implementation of activities in the school.

Even with the strict epidemiological measures and recommendations, all teachers and the project team agreed that if possible to have the first module in person as to build the learning group with all teachers. During the training, some teachers participated via ZOOM as some of them were not able to participate in person due to the prescribed self-isolation measure. Nevertheless, the learning experience was highly positive as both online and alive participants reported that they really valued the chance to share ideas and discuss ideas and experience with colleagues from different schools and also while their contexts may be different, the challenges around student voices and active participation is similar. The training will continue in form of online and alive modules.

Some of teachers’ reflections:

It was important for me to hear how important it is to convey to students how negative experiences strengthen us, how important it is to stand up for ourselves, and maintain mental health.

                 Happy because I listened to this too and it reminded me again where we are and what we need to do.

                Controversial topics and topics in civics, in general, are always important, as are the ways in which we can incorporate them into teaching.

All the lectures were interesting and stimulating. They encourage thinking and reflection on their own activities, school, students, and how to improve some areas of work. The topics, as well as the experiences of the participants, can be used to work with students.

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