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European Innovative Teaching Award
Project

Upskilling for Upscaled European Defies

School: Escola Profissional Amar Terra Verde (EPATV)

2017-1-PT01-KA101-035398_1

Topic(s) addressed

This project was conceived based on a diagnostic analysis of institutional needs that resulted from a reflective point of view regarding ISO 9001’s Quality Management Process, supported by performance evaluation surveys in the fulfilment of the European Development Plan. This took into account the awareness of European values and identity, interculturality, and the promotion of gender equality and equal opportunities. An exploration of the EPATV community identified several needs that had to be addressed, consisting of: a lack of a standard communication level in the English language between teachers in the socio-cultural and scientific fields (which hindered the progress of the European development plan); updating knowledge and new skills with regard to motivational methods and techniques for student success in linguistics; updating knowledge and new skills for motivational methods and techniques aimed at student success in the ICT field; providing teachers and educational staff with didactic and pedagogical tools and methods to stimulate innovation, increase motivation, and promote self-confidence in young people, as well as to combat premature drop-outs; providing science teachers with tools, techniques, and methodologies in the pedagogical, didactic, and linguistic fields to motivate their participation in international projects; and, providing teachers with the tools, techniques, and methodologies needed in managing problematic students and classes. Subsequently, based on the aforementioned needs, a number of objectives were established, consisting of the need to: motivate the increase of innovative practices in the classroom, especially in the teaching of foreign languages and introduction of digital apps as motivating factors in learning and knowledge acquisition; improve professional performance through the implementation of methodologies based on cooperative learning, along with scientific and pedagogical-didactic improvement of teachers in the areas of new digital technology and linguistic fluency (mainly English for teachers, technicians and non-teaching staff involved in interactions with students/youth); provide teachers with formal and non-formal learning tools and methods to stimulate motivation and the promotion of self-confidence as a means of student leverage/empowerment towards decreasing early school drop-outs and avoiding an increase in the group of NEET youngsters ("not in education, employment, or training"); improve techniques of conflict management and bullying diagnosis with the help of EPATV's educational staff who are in contact with students and parents; and, provide knowledge of other cultures, knowledge, and principles that lead to a greater awareness of the European project across all its components and priorities. All activities were guided and fulfilled in order to achieve the project’s objectives; a number of identified agents successfully enhanced and guided the teaching-learning process, and focused on students as builders of their own training project, which met the provisions laid out in national and European reference documents that define guidelines for the design, implementation, and evaluation of learning. This ensured that all students were able to acquire knowledge and develop their skills and attitudes in order to achieve the aforementioned competencies, thus promoting an active, fair, inclusive, and resilient citizenship.

Target groups

The project saw a total of 14 participants from different VET curricular areas/programmes, as well as educational staff involved in the teaching-learning process, all of who participated in 16 mobilities. Participants’ profiles are as follows: i) Dropout Prevention, Prague, Czech Republic, March 2018 –Physical Education teacher, 38; Physics and Chemistry teacher, 40; and Technological Education teacher, 46. These teachers had been previously involved in Erasmus+ projects (KA1 VET and KA2 partnerships), and social-themed programmes in collaboration with the Child and Youth Protection Commissions, the Eco-Schools environment project, Epadança, sports, and the School Dropout Combat Club. Furthermore, the teacher of Automotive Mechatronics, developed a project in extracurricular practices for the development of soft skills among students at risk of dropping out; ii) Apps for Classroom Use, Florence, Italy, May 2018 – Computer Science and Information Technology teacher, 33; Multimedia and Graphic Design and Quality Management Supervisor, 24; Communication Department Technician, 27; and, Graphic Arts, Multimedia, and Graphic Design teacher, 45. These teachers were from the ICT and digital technologies area and intended to increase the use of apps within the classroom environment; iii) New Methodologies in Language Education, Florence, Italy, May 2018 – an English teacher, 40 has been involved in several Erasmus+ KA1 and social projects (Eco Schools, Theatre, Volunteering), as well as the linguistic preparation of students participating in Erasmus+ projects; iv) English Language Fluency and Development, May 2018 – Economics and Accounting teacher, 52; History teacher, 40; and Economics and Accounting teacher, 57.; v) Conflict Management, Emotional Intelligence and Bullying Prevention, Barcelona, Spain, July 2018 – Economics and Accounting teacher, 30; two Economics and Accounting teachers, 42; vi) Non Formal Education- Empowerment for Motivation within the Learning Process of Students/School, Rome, Italy, July 2018 – Biology and Geology teacher, 46; and Portuguese language teacher, 52.

Methodologies

The methodologies used in the selection of participants, and in the choice of topics and content for training, continuously took into account an approach that was not only curricular, but above all, transversal, in the interest of producing positive and sustainable changes within the overall group responsible for the success of knowledge transmission (students, teachers, technicians, non-teaching staff, employees, and, internal and external stakeholders), while meeting the personal, social, and cultural developmental needs of those directly and/or indirectly involved in the project. The fact that tools and processes of non-formal learning (digital apps, gamification, real life cases, arts, science) were introduced, constituted a challenge and motivation for young people, especially those who were the most unmotivated due to various reasons (social, economic, unstructured families, migrants). This was implemented in a ludic manner to recover the necessary resources needed in the development of skills that promote participants’ personal and professional successes; furthermore, the construction of training paths was highly consistent with their abilities, their vocation, and especially their training of soft skills aimed at increasing their confidence and motivation, which may be applied to other real-life situations. As such, this is where the project’s innovative quality lies: education agents were introduced to changes in society in an open manner, which included new techniques and tools being applied in the classroom, and the provision of identical opportunities that ensured no one was left behind; which, by the same token, also prepared young people for a citizenship based on active participation, coupled with increased environmental and social responsibility.

Environments

Today’s school environment should be viewed as an ecosystem; one that is characterised by its volatility of knowledge, an obligation to anticipate the needs of an uncertain and competitive future, the complexity of multiculturalism and ambiguity, and the result of accelerated technological development and increasing globalisation. Education has the ultimate purpose of generating and managing the changes needed to provide citizens with a comprehensive training that affords them lifelong learning and enables them to face changes with perseverance and resilience in all areas of society. Aware of this reality, the school management (the nuclei of reflection implemented in EPATV) through the use of disciplinary groups, the Pedagogical Council, and the team of EQAVET and Quality, combined with a dynamic and interactive Advisory Board representative from the surrounding community, local government, businesses, associations and health, and, social and environmental entities, gave rise to a strategic vision aimed at the future, which was intended (through this structured training project) to empower its human resources, especially those who are most involved in the teaching-learning process of VET teaching. This was aimed at improving their teaching practices (with a focus on student learning) and the development of students' autonomy in learning and researching, so they may face the challenges and problems posed by the facilitating teacher, who capitalises on the creative and innovative solutions presented by students. This further encouraged and equipped teachers with tools that allowed EPATV to become a successful school, as demonstrated by the sustainability and consistent usability of its content as seen during the unforeseen pandemic and the resultant distance learning. The methodologies used (either digital or new approaches to non-formal character) were widely applied in the preparation of P@D (Distance Learning Plan) and the development of synchronous learning to be delivered by ZOOM and TEAMs.

Teachers

Today, the role of teachers is understood as that of a mediator and facilitator of a teaching-learning process that helps students achieve their educational journey and insertion into global society; as such, it holds extreme relevancy to EPATV Administrators in the provision of VET education mechanisms that promote changes in a sustainable manner through the use of successful approaches. The certificates issued by training and accreditation entities for acquired technical skills (even those that are non-formal such as improving language fluency, inter-social relationships, new cultures, and knowledge) revealed their quality and innovation, while impacting the implementation of lifelong learning, thus ensuring alignment with European, national, and educational policies. As such, the goal was to encourage and empower groups that bring about direct change through teachers, despite the fact that indirect beneficiaries consisted of students who were working towards the success of their personal and professional future. The collaborative work and interactive communication policy employed by EPATV quickly resulted in experience assimilation, with the challenge of experimenting with new ideas easily achieved and maintained. New proposals were actively monitored by technicians of computer and digital resources during the construction phase, and adapted to the school’s educational project and the culture of the surrounding community. Furthermore, peers and institutions that have partner projects with EPATV, such as CFAC - Training Center of Alto Cávado, the Health Center, Eco-School, CPCJ, and Safe School, end up incorporating these practices given the verification of their effectiveness.

Impact

The biggest impacts were the immediate changes that resulted from the inclusion of new methodologies, the new instruments for the training of various disciplinary groups of each area (as well as with peers and partnerships of various projects), and the planning for amendments and results to be included in curricular subjects. Subjects were developed in a transversal manner, where the field of mathematics introduced new apps that were associated with formal learning, which have also been applied in Robotics and Art projects, especially through Erasmus+ projects in which several classes were involved. By induction and osmosis, this also implied a review and improvement of the Educational Project (with the introduction of new learning processes, the introduction of Erasmus’ OLS methodology in the current English programme, and the creation of the EMAEI team). As reported by a research carried out by the Employability Observatory, school dropout at EPATV has decreased by about 2% compared to the previous estimate of 8.9%. These teaching and learning processes have brought innovation to the school both in terms of content and pedagogy, as well as in the strategic vision that the administration has assimilated from its sharing of experiences and processes brought by collaborators to the school, which has great value for other social and environmental projects. On the other hand, the increase that was verified in the willingness of teachers to participate in Erasmus+ projects was, and is, very relevant, as well as students who have already enrolled to be a part of the EPATV Erasmus students network. This was a great source of motivation for those who lacked enthusiasm for theoretical and scientific classes or who, for whatever reason, wished to leave school prematurely. More than the processes itself, the impact felt regarding open-mindedness and the transformation of these practices into action (rather than a resource) resulted in EPATV's teaching agents to instinctively and consciously apply such processes in the digital transition as a strong component of success in knowledge sharing, while helping distance learning processes to be more tranquil and success oriented, with an inclusive approach that considered the needs of those most vulnerable.

2017-1-PT01-KA101-035398_2

Stakeholders

Participants

Enjoy Italy di Gariano Alessandro

Address
Italy

Europass Teacher Academy

Address
Italy

Euro Teach Egitim Proje ve Danismanlik

Address
Turkey

International House London

Address
United Kingdom