Starting the Change in the Time of Pandemic – partners intensively discussing options!

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STC is a three-year project co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union under the Key Action 3 (Social inclusion). The key focus of the project is the promotion of student voice and participation by using the whole school approach and developing inclusive social educational policies in Croatia, North Macedonia and Portugal.

As the COVID 19 pandemic was spreading to European countries, the Consortium members had to re-evaluate each planned activity in the context of the new situation. Numerous ZOOM meetings were held between March and June of 2020 as it was important to monitor development of the pandemic in each of the participating country, particularly relating to the lockdown and schools changing to the distant learning model.

15 schools were selected for participation in the project in Croatia, North Macedonia and Portugal prior to the crises. The project coordinators maintained contact with the school coordinators particularly with the partner schools in each country, as they have been important source of information about the challenges of distant learning and reality that teachers and students were facing.

More in-depth understanding of this situation was achieved after the partner organization in these three countries held online interviews with the teachers from the project schools. Teachers shared what were the challenges in the distant learning, for example not all students having access to computers and not all students having supportive environments at home, but also positive sides like seeing some students making the best out of this model of teaching and significantly excelling in their performance. However, as the time was passing, teachers reported exhaustion and also students’ tiredness with the constant online presence.

Having in mind all this collected information, the Consortium members decided to postpone one of the key activities in the project – the qualitative research with students from the project schools that was planned for April and May. It was agreed, both with teachers and project experts, to postpone the focus groups for the beginning of the next schools year (September and October) as it provides a chance to hold them alive – as this was estimated as the most appropriate methodology for the researchers, to explore students voice in direct conversation with students rather than online.

Also, the partner organizations agreed to implement online Training for Trainers that was planned to be held in Zagreb in June. With the contribution of many experts, this training was opportunity to discuss the existing Start the Change curriculum but also expand it with the new content relevant in the context of current situation.

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