The best of teaching practices in one place
"We learned on our own, from each other, we learned from the students, and so we got a catalogue with practices that will help our colleagues in the future."
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Pupils of the sixth grade of the Elementary School "Pofalići" in Sarajevo took advantage of the period of online classes and decided to change the world with their English teacher Semira Fočo. Through the interactive workshops called "Let's Change the World", the children used virtual presentations and programs to point at the biggest problems of today’s world and provided the ideas how to solve them. Their works are now a part of the digital Catalog of examples of good online teaching practices created as a result of the project "Professional development of teachers and school management through webinars for the process of planning online and combined teaching" implemented by the Ministry of Education in cooperation with UNICEF.
"We discussed how to change the world, what are the key problems in the world, created a 'problem tree', identified the root cause and proposed the solutions. We have placed the focus on the problems of environmental pollution; how it occurs and how to solve it. Another problem, children have identified was the one of bullying among children. We have tried to learn how to be socially responsible. At the end everyone showed the examples of how they see problems and solutions. Now everything is available on the link where you can see their e-books, video animations and comics in English”, said the teacher Semira Fočo.
Being a teacher is not easy, especially when “the world stops,” and the usual practice becomes impossible. Then the teacher needs to find a way out for her students. Online teaching has pushed us abruptly from an era in which teaching methods were over 100 years old, to an era in which our students already lived, to the world of virtual reality. We learned on our own, from each other, but most importantly we have learned from our students how to teach them. It has resulted with this catalogue of great practices that will surely help our colleagues in the future ", she added, emphasizing that though the best place to learn is in the classroom and school, we need to be aware that after the pandemic, the teaching will never look the same.
"We cannot force our children to live and learn the way we have used to. They are the next generation and we need to follow them. Today, in addition to the classroom teaching and human encounters, we need to learn to handle digital tools, because we live the reality in the virtual world”, she said, adding that she wants her colleagues to make the best use of online practices and improve them.
Amela Hadžić from public institution "Children of Sarajevo" addressed the presentation of the Catalog on behalf of the educators.
"This is the first time that preschool institutions are involved in such a project. The new way of working was full of challenges, doubts and questions, but we adapted very quickly and used all of the existing resources in the best possible way. We all know that this period was difficult for everyone, especially for the children who were forced to stay at homes, "she said, recalling how they overcame the situation during the lockdown of preschools:
"We decided to record our activities at homes, but also in kindergartens, then we sent the videos to parents through Viber, Facebook groups and online platforms. Our activities were designed in such a way that parents and children use the materials and resources that we all had at home at that time." Amela said, adding that the importance of maintaining the continuity of learning activities at home.
The Minister of Education of Sarajevo Canton, Naida Hota-Muminović points out the importance of webinars, which also served for teaching through the selection of the most proven strategies and methods of learning and teaching, and the application of digital tools and platforms:
"The main goal was to provide continuous professional support to teachers and professional associates in the implementation of online combined teaching. The panels were visited regionally because they were available in an online format and joined by people not only from Bosnia and Herzegovina but also from other countries. We have attracted great interest and shown that there is a need for constant communication, precisely through development of professional communities of our educators, our teachers and school management, "she said, adding that the result is visible through empowered teachers and school management.
“One of the results is this pioneering step - a catalogue of digital online content as a great resource to store excellent examples of good practice, resources that will be shared in all parts of Sarajevo Canton, but which we will selflessly make available to other cantons, the entity Republika Srpska, as well as the Brcko District. The final product should be a common digital platform whose management will come under the auspices of the Institute for the Development of Pre-University Education. There is still a lot of work to be done, but these processes have started unstoppably, with the ultimate intention of standardizing the quality of education in which all children in every part of the Sarajevo Canton will have the access to same content and the same quality of education and upbringing ", she announced.
Sanja Kabil, the Education Specialist at UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina, points out that teaching in an online environment is not the same as in a classroom.
"Many children had various challenges, but our teachers adapted to this practice very well, thinking about the importance of reaching the learning outcome, defining the priorities and focusing on the achievement of pedagogical goals in teaching. This has resulted with this catalogue, but also with the continuation of our cooperation. Teachers need a continuum in their professional development in the digital environment.”
Ms. Kabil has also announced a Regional project to reduce the impact of the COVID pandemic on the lives of children in the Western Balkans and Turkey, in which seven countries are participating, thanks to the EU - Directorate-General for Neighborhood Policy and DG Near," The project will last until December 2022, and will include components of education and health and nutrition of children, child protection and early intervention.
“As far as education is concerned, it is planned to improve the quality and continuity of education for children, by strengthening the competencies of teachers. Here we will provide support to improve the quality and efficiency of the digital learning environment and procure certain types of equipment in line with the standard, developed for Bosnia and Herzegovina and provide support to all educational authorities in developing guidelines and policies for combining learning.”, Ms. Kabil announced.
The catalogue can be seen and downloaded from the following link