The long description
Natalie Portman said on several occasions: ‘I hate studying but I love learning. Learning is beautiful.’ It should be. However, the partners in this project notice that a substantial number of students from diverse backgrounds are underachieving. Lack of motivation often lies at the basis. In order to restore the function of education, namely ‘create opportunities for all students, no matter what their background is’, we need to focus on the MOTIVATION of students. The causes for the motivational problem (the challenges of more intensified diversity, inclusive education, higher demands from society and higher pressure due to (social)media) can’t be reversed. We believe that TALENT DETECTION and DEVELOPMENT is the key to the problem.
The general objective of this project is therefore empowering teachers to develop and implement methods, approaches, materials and tools for talent detection and development, in order to improve the motivation of pupils in secondary education and to involve their parents more intensely in their teenagers’ school career. Since lack of motivation and participation is not limited to any age range, teachers from different departments and levels will be involved. In total it means that about 1800 secondary school students will be affected in one way or another.
The idea sounds simple enough, but how do we intend to reach our goals? Through ‘intervision’ by school staff, interviews of all parties involved (including counsellors, ESLs, truants…), filming lessons and activities, comparing scientific research and opinions of experts in the field, we want to develop methods, tools, materials that focus on 5 types of learning (‘shared’ learning, ‘diverse’ learning, ‘critical’ learning, ‘media’ literacy and ‘life/professional’ literacy) and we want to implement these in 3 areas (in day-to-day lessons, in activities within the curriculum e.g. excursions and in extra-curricular activities). The quality of the developed methods, tools and materials will be tested in try-outs and will, at the end of our project, be used to develop a website with good practices, in-service training workshops and a self-assessment tool for schools, youth centres, … so that they too can turn over a new leaf.
Ultimately, we want to see (and be able to measure) that students of different backgrounds are more motivated, have more self-esteem, are able to live up to their capacity and have more confidence in education because we focus on their talents and help them develop these talents. In short, we want students to ‘enjoy’ learning again, teachers to be empowered to do so and parents to be encouraged to get more involved. In this way, our schools will stop walking backwards and will start to walk towards being broad learning environments.
After reading up on a lot of research we felt the only way to see what is motivational in a classroom and what is not, was to film lots of lessons and analyse them using the same form in the four school. It gave us a pretty good idea of what works, what sometimes works and what doesn’t work at all. It gave us ideas to try out new things and this lead to a ‘before’ and ‘after’-moment.
You can find before/after-videos our YouTube channel (see below) or attend one of our workshops (https://www.eekhoutacademy.be/nascholingen/detail/I20-084A).
Language in collaborative learning room
ACTIVITIES WITHIN THE CURRICULUM
There are so many activities in a school which are part of the curriculum but are not bound to a certain subject. All partners had good practices in this area so we learnt from each other. We also tried new things and shared our findings each time. These activities have a major impact on how students and staff feel in a school. Well-being in a school environment is of the utmost importance, no doubt about that. You can read about these activities on our blog (see top) or attend one of our workshops (https://www.eekhoutacademy.be/nascholingen/detail/I20-084A).
Listen to the students BEFORE acting...
We found out that extracurricular activities are quite dependant on the kind of school you are in. In some countries lessons end at 2 pm or earlier. In another school the students had individual schedules which makes organising these activities very different from regular schools. That’s why we decided to focus on good practices that work for a particular school and introduce them onto our blog. Look at our blog (at the top) or attend one of our workshops (https://www.eekhoutacademy.be/nascholingen/detail/I20-084A).
Challenges WORK - FOCUS on 'togetherness'!
THESE ARE, IN SHORT,
1° workshops = in-service training which specialise in the 3 areas mentioned (day-to-day lessons, activities within the curriculum and extra-curricular activities). These will be provided to other schools and institutions. These workshops will be given by the teachers who were involved from the start and the coordinators of all partners institutions. The main goal is to send teachers and other staff home with ready-to-use material such as (online) tools developed per subject, video material, lesson plans, … so that they too can start to use talent detection and development as a means to improve motivation of all kinds of students (inclusive students (who need more and different support); students with diverse backgrounds (who sometimes need language help or other support); truants; underachieving students…) e.g. Socrative is a great online tool. We can provide material which is completely ready and tested. Other teachers and educators can implement this into their Socrative profile and start using it immediately.
2° a website with good practices (eg. videos of and action plans for the 5 types of learning) for methods, approaches and tools for talent detection and development (with the aim to motivate pupils to learn). Since talent detection is our goal. He will involve interested students in the design of our website. During the student exchange he will use and try-out our methods to teach students from the different partner schools whose talent is webdesign.
3° create a self-assessment tool for all institutions, associations, companies, … that work with ‘young people’. On the website there will be a link to another website which will be a self-assessment tool. ICT-teachers will – again- use our developed methods to teach interested students (of all partner schools – talent detection!) to use an online tool eg.Wufoo ,Moodle (open source education software with a self assessed test module – but complex in use), Testofy (user-friendly), Typeform or Surveygizmo (also available in terms of question/survey apps). The input will come from the coordinators, teachers, external partners. We will draw up questionnaires which will lead to profiles. These profiles will be drawn up in stages. First we will start with our own profiles (we are four completely different schools/institutions). The counselling centres involved can help us find other schools in the development stage who are willing to fill out the questionnaires. These questionnaires combined with their school’s profile will widen our overview of school profiles.
one inevitable consequence of our project is that the school organisation will have to change. If you want to organise 5 motivational types of teaching, you will have to step away from ‘classical teaching’. We have some experience with projects in which 2 or even more teachers from different subjects are co-teaching. The results are amazing. But the downside is that this is hard to organise. Teachers’ schedules eg. will have to be far more flexible. Next to the fixed curriculum, students will have more choice to learn something they find interesting. There will have to be room for this flexible learning in their schedule as well.
The INTERIOR DESIGN (foto sta-klas) of some rooms will have to change. If you want to organise ‘shared and diverse’ learning, you will need bigger spaces in which the furniture can be moved around easily and which is provided with all necessary digital tools.
IMPLEMENTATION / IMPACT
The impact on the STUDENTS can be summarized as follows:
- As mentioned in the pedagogical mission, we will be more able to provide optimal learning opportunities to all students.
- Students will be more respected in their multilayer identities and those will be used as a starting point to organise more motivational education.
- Since we include talent detection as a pillar, students’ self-esteem and belief in education as a means to grow in life and be prepared for their future (professional) life will be restored. Feeling appreciated in your learning environment is a condition which has to be fulfilled if we want students to fully show their capacities instead of underachieving in different areas.
- There will be less conflicts between students and students and teachers because the frustration on both ends will have diminished.
- They will be able to grow as ‘people’ because of the 5 ways of teaching that will be used: shared learning, diverse learning, critical learning, media literacy and life/work literacy will prepare them for their future life as grown-ups as well.
- They will enjoy learning more.
- They will have a better view on their own talents and take more responsibility for their learning process.
- Are more involved/ participate more in school life.
- They will have better learning results.
As to SCHOOL STAFF (teachers, educators, …) we believe:
- The project will also improve their well-being on school. Having to cope with the challenges of diversity in education and inclusive education is frustrating if you don’t feel like you have the necessary competences.
- Teachers will become more confident again because useful and evidence-based methods and good practices for several subjects will be available.
- They will have a support team in school which has specialised in one or more areas and which can help them as they grow.
- All teachers will be able to at least achieve the minimum required competences to provide the 5 learning ways: shared learning, diverse learning, critical learning, media literacy and life/work literacy.
- They will have a better knowledge and skills to detect and develop talents of their pupils.
The SCHOOLS as organisations will profit from this project since:
- School staff will be supported and helped in a practical way to attack the current challenges.
- The schools will have specialists in different areas which can train other staff.
- There will be a more open-minded vision towards ‘intervision’ (looking at each other’s lessons, co-teaching etc…). An open door-policy will be less threatening.
- Outside the lessons there will be more activities to create a ‘connecting’ school environment (over lunch time, after school time, …).
- The schools will have a larger international network to keep on sharing their expertise.
- As motivation and talent detection are key pillars, there will be less early school leavers.
- The schools will offer motivational education for diverse groups of pupils.
- The schools will offer a support system for teachers in talent detection and development.
- The schools will become broad learning environments where pupils can learn during and outside the lessons, and in collaboration with local partners.
The PARENTS will profit since:
- There will be a more ‘connecting’ atmosphere in schools which will be more inviting to all parents as well.
- There will be special attention to better, repeated and more clear communication with parents (several ways).
- Parents will be more involved in their children’s/teenagers’ school careers.
- Some parents will be working as intermediaries to other parents.
The COMMUNITY can only benefit if our school is a more connecting environment where diversity is not considered to be probematic but used as an added value.
We think a lot of students from different backgrounds are underachieving. Lack of motivation often lies at the basis. In order to restore the function of education, namely ‘create opportunities for all students, no matter what their background is, so that they are prepared for the future (job and life)’ we need to focus on the motivation of students. We believe that talent detection will increase the motivation and participation if we imbed this in the 3 areas that schools work with: a) day-to-day lessons; b) activities within the curriculum and c) extra-curricular activities.
We believe that the motivational problem has 3 major causes:
- More intensified diversity (different nationalities, religions, cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, …) and inclusive education are both a reality in Europe. It demands a different approach and brings along a few challenges for all parties involved (teachers, headmasters, students, parents, …);
- The demands towards schools have changed over the last few years. Educational institutions have to find far more answers to the current challenges in society than years ago. The refugee crisis, terrorist attacks, the still ongoing consequences of the economic crisis, … It has brought along extra tasks for educators all over Europe.
- It seems that ‘negativity’ prevails in the regular media and on social media. This rises the pressure on students, parents, teachers, … We tend to focus less on the good things and spend more time on what goes wrong. This attitude is reflected in education. We notice underachievement and lack of motivation and often try to answer with negativity from our part. Changing this is vital to stop this ongoing trend and restore the self-esteem of many students who seem to be at a loss.
Before starting off with this project, we asked all participating schools to fill out a SWOT analysis of their school (see attachment). We all seem to struggle in some way or another with motivating students from diverse backgrounds to see school as an opportunity, as a way to grow, to be better prepared for their future and for the real (professional) life. We also interviewed some counsellors (DPB Bruges, students’ counsellors, etc…) and noticed that they came to the same conclusion. There is more problematic behaviour, less motivation and so on. For some students school seems to be a necessary evil that they put up with but the meaning and the importance of a strong education and achieving well in different areas is apparently not clear to them.
We consider the angle of talent detection to be vital + to be the answer to our current problem of underachievement and lack of motivation. We have students who compete in all kinds of disciplines e.g. dancing, filming, gaming, designing websites, … Our students clearly aren’t lacking competences such as perseverance and so on. We see that they can show all these necessary competences in other areas, but not always inside a class room or school. Transfers must be possible.
The general objective of this project is to empower teachers to develop and implement methods, approaches and tools for talent detection and talent development, in order to improve the motivation of pupils in secondary education. If learning has to be ‘fun’ again we need to work on three levels:
- regular lessons should be motivating to all students (including students with ‘diversity’ backgrounds and inclusive students): we need to develop and implement good practices focusing on 5 types of learning: shared learning, diverse learning, critical learning, media literacy, ‘life/professional’ literacy (see further);
- all these kinds of learning should also be implemented in activities within the curriculum and extra-curricular activities;
- finally, our goal is to share our knowledge in workshops, through a website and by developing a self-assessment tool for other schools and institutions, consultancy centres, …