In addition to activities supporting teachers and teachers in remote learning, the Center for Citizenship Education opened a space that provided an opportunity to exchange experiences from remote learning. For nine consecutive weeks there were discussions about difficulties and exchange of thoughts and ideas. The meetings gave support and a moment of breathing at this difficult time.
In this way a community of teachers, pedagogues, supporting teachers and other specialists was built, in which one could say “I don’t know” without fear of evaluation, share the difficulties, give someone advice, support, show what they have achieved.
We chose the formula of the circle, which assumes equality of participants, because there is no expert here, each person brings his or her story, can be a support or can just listen. Such a space has allowed some interesting conclusions to crystallize, which can also be valuable after the remote teaching.
A few simple rules below gave a framework for our meetings, but the whole essence was created by the participants.
- Everyone is equal, every person can speak or remain silent.
- To feel safe, we arrange for discretion. What is said during the circle is not passed on (for the needs of our meetings the substantive issues related to remote education were excluded from this rule).
- We speak as “I” and share our experience.
- We believe that every person knows what is good for them, we do not give advice unless we are asked to do so.
- We learn to appreciate the uniqueness of each person, we do not judge.
- We listen to others, but at the same time we give attention to ourselves.
The circle “told” about the challenges of current education: the challenges of implementing the core curriculum, evaluation, caring for students with special educational needs, those with whom he has lost contact, fatigue. He inspired ideas, gave concrete tips or words of support “you can do it”.
Below we present the most interesting conclusions from this work:
Let’s start with ourselves
Hours in front of the computer, preparation of lessons, communication with parents, training, webinar, new tools. Work in the new reality was accompanied by fatigue, overload, blurring the boundaries of professional and personal space.
It is all the more important to be attentive to oneself, to one’s needs, sometimes to let go of something, to do something for oneself in this place. Even small steps are a lever for change – when we fill ourselves with energy, it will be easier for us to take care of the welfare of our students and pupils.
Cooperation on many levels
Even when the lessons took place only online, or maybe especially then, the cooperation between the teacher and the school pedagogue, psychologist, educator was of great importance. The work of librarians, day care centre educators, speech therapists and other school specialists was an invaluable support.
Sometimes the combination of all forces of specialists in the school helped to reach the pupils with difficulties, support educational activities, help the family. Although we worked in our own homes, joint activities strengthened the staff and maybe in many schools we will come out stronger as a team.
The potential can always be released
Remote education gave the opportunity to see students and pupils in a different situation. Sometimes people, who so far needed more support, suddenly started to function better, showed new talents, surprised with their achievements. It turned out that a change of conditions, an individual approach or simply a change of pace causes our students to spread their wings. What we learned about them during the pandemic may be a clue to work when we return to school.
The community gives power
The importance of relations with students and pupils, with parents, with the teaching staff was strongly emphasized. There was a need for relations in a situation of change, crisis, the need to be in a community of people who can be authentic support.
This experience has shown that in moments such as pandemic time, when there is a certain suspension of existing practices and rules (e.g. related to the implementation of the core curriculum, evaluation or remuneration for work) a similar group of exchange of experiences can be a great support in making important decisions and strengthening their sense of security and control. Personal development is not really “personal” – it takes place through experience and relationship with others – even now.