One of the legs is the parent, the second is the school, and the third one is society. Whichever falls out of the system or starts to wobble, the background system, the support behind the child will tumble, and the child will sooner or later drop out of school.
There's a little chair, with three legs...
The 3-year-long Erasmus+ project implemented under the coordination of the Evangelic Educational Service Provider and Training Institute set the goal of integrating disadvantaged children through the training of their teachers. The partnership seeks to contribute to establishing a supportive relationship between the teachers of the base schools involved and the students' families, since children can't be developed without support from their families and parents. The training courses implemented under the project offered the teachers involved experiential exercises, where they could reflect upon the social reality of their environment, the place and opportunities of the individual, the disadvantaged status and its causes, and they also completed self-awareness exercises. The exercises and the subsequent reflection workshops, held by trainers, resulted in serious, open and trustful conversations and a supporting professional background.
This project demonstrates how to build such a common learning path with the teachers, and how to monitor it effectively with a facilitator's approach. As the specialist leader of the project, Dr. Magdolna Tratnyek, associate of the Evangelical Educational Service Provider and Training Institute told us about how experiential education was used in building the relationship between the parents, the teachers and the children.
What was the driving force behind these training courses?
We believe that teachers can learn most from each other, so the most effective approach to these teacher training sessions is to rely on workshops where they can share their knowledge and experiences. We considered it important that the participants should be given something which they can use in their own respective fields when they return home. We were provided some serious practical ammunition by the teachers of Kedvesház in Nyírtelek, which we integrated into the project; we complemented it with our own expertise, as we also come from a practising teaching and training background. We used these to build the framework for the workshops, and the content itself was provided by the participants, namely the teachers of the schools in Plăieșii de Jos, Romania, Tornaľa, Slovakia and Miskolc, Hungary, who all work with disadvantaged children day by day. The exercises were such which helped the teachers reflect upon themselves and each other and think about similarities and differences. We relied on the educational methods of Kedvesház, for example, to adopt the setting of KETHANO rules, which basically means creating our common rules.
|KETHANO RULES: A method used in building a community and developing and improving social competencies, communication and collaborative skills, whose long-term effects and outcomes are well-recognisable in the learning and teaching process and in keeping contact with the parents. It includes seven key rules: attentive listening, appreciate, mutual respect, the principle of trust, don't undervalue, me-message, and the right to pass. In practice, it means the operationalisation of the rules. Simply put, the teacher sits down with the children and/or the parents to manage a current issue and they discuss the situation. They finally come to a common agreement which everybody can accept and keep.|
What were the problems that you wanted to solve through the partnership?
We sought and are still seeking how to find a path and build a bridge towards the families, especially disadvantaged ones. We teachers tend to complain sometimes that parents don't care enough and don't come to the school. But do we, teachers, care enough, do we visit the families, do we make adequate efforts to encourage the families to turn to us with trust? We felt that these days this issue, the relationship between the family and the school, the parents and the teachers, as well as the support it gets, is neglected, although without it you can't work with children effectively.
The project is basically built on and inspired by the methodological expertise of Kedvesház. What are the key elements of this educational method? What should we know about them?
Kedvesház is a so-called weekly home residential hall in Nyírtelek, providing social safety, mental health care and proper educational circumstances for disadvantaged children in school time. It's a "second home" for Roma and non-Roma students whose parents, owing to their living circumstances, can't provide them the pre-conditions needed for success at school and for continued studies.The methodology of the programme is the 'Kedvesház pedagogy', now well-known among public education professionals as an educational method. Its key elements are a culturally identical approach, a pedagogical practice built on family socialisation values, or "inherited knowledge", community building and common learning, as well as the "bridge building to families" methodology. It's an important fact that it rooted in practice, and its development is closely linked to Kedvesház Kollégium, established by Péter Lázár 26 years ago. The training sessions were held by him and Margit Bordács. Their personalities, genuine stories and practical approach greatly contributed to success.
They supported the teachers even after the training, provided them customised mentoring help when they'd returned to their everyday lives and their own schools. How did that happen in practice?
Already at the planning stage of the project, we considered it important that our colleagues should also be helped by a system which supported the practical usage and integration of the training courses. The most important goal of the mentoring process was to allow teachers to use the methods learnt at the courses in their own pedagogical practice. We held mentoring days in each base institution when two mentors visited the institution concerned. These visit weren't meant to check the teachers, but to provide them supportive meetings and conversations. The mentors gave constructive feedback to encourage teachers, and they also participated in the joint sessions held with the children and their families.
How open are teachers to reflecting on their own experiences? How can you enable them to see their work as a learning process, which also includes self-reflection?
The first thing is trust. We must try to establish and maintain a trustful atmosphere while making contact, as well as during training. This requires a partnership. We can also support a reflective approach if we rely on existing, former knowledge and help to retrieve it. It reduces resistance and enhances motivation if we look for working solutions to real problems. That's why we applied a solution-oriented approach in the project. We didn't primarily focus on what and why doesn't work, but much more on what we could do to make it work. When teachers learn about methods which are really effective and therefore make their work easier and more successful, it motivates them to continue learning.
|Within the project, you created an innovative content and methodology handbook for those working in public education. The book, as well as information about the project, can be found in Hungarian on the website of the Evangelical Institute of Pedagogy (www.epszti.hu), as well as in Romanian and Slovak languages on the partners' websites (www.rmpsz.ro, www.ternipe.sk).|
Last modified: 05-08-2019