9th Regional Conference of Educators: “Teachers are Important”

Three NEPC representatives: Snježana Duić, teacher at Dr. Vinko Žganec Elementary School in Zagreb, Borislava Maksimović from The Center for Education Policy Belgrade, and Mario Bajkuša from The Forum for Freedom in Education Zagreb, attended The Regional Conference of Educators, organized by The Centre for Educational Initiatives – Step by Step, from Sarajevo.  The event brought together many practitioners in education from the BCS language area.

The ninth conference edition, “Teachers are important”, took place in Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, from 21st to 24th August 2017.  Its key topic was building communities and teacher networks.

Over 300 primary and secondary school teachers, university professors, professional associates, principals, civil society representatives dealing with education had the opportunity to present their good practices, meet awarded innovative teachers, contribute to topics through focus groups, workshops and panels, and participate in the creation of proposals for the improvement of educational policies in different domains.

Workshops included good practice examples from the following categories: pre-school education, elementary school education, subject teaching, high school education, and expert associates. Teachers like Mrs. Duić participated in the workshop on good practices from elementary school education and learnt about colleagues’ examples of games teaching experience learning, health lifestyle and nutrition education. Snježana presented the outline, conclusions and policy recommendations from the last NEPC Summer School, which took place in Kosovo in July 2017 under the title “Poverty in Education: What We Know and What Can We Do?”.

The Centre for Educational Policies Belgrade presented EWIS (Early Warning and Intervention System), an instrument for early identification and intervention related to risk factors that lead to student dropouts of students. The Centre for Educational Policies Belgrade piloted the tool in partnership with UNICEF and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia. A three-component model of creating and implementing school policies for preventing student drop-out was presented, as well as the challenges and results achieved through the project implemented in ten primary and secondary schools in Serbia (the publication is available online at www.cep.edu.rs).

Several studies have been shown such as the comprehensive analysis of 2688 lessons from 68 textbooks in Bosnia and Herzegovina on how teaching materials promote universal values and encourage the development of critical thinking, within the panel “What we do (not) teach children?” (published by proMENTE Social Research and Open Society Fund Bosnia and Herzegovina). Through the results of research and cited examples from textbooks, it has been shown that there is still work ahead to achieve universal human values sharing, human rights promotion, integrated learning and the teaching and development of critical thinking in textbook material.

During the conference topics important for further research and for the creation of educational policies at all levels were tackled. Practitioners from pre-school and primary school institutions showed how they encourage creativity of children through performance, arts and music; a workshop on how to get angry (more) properly and constructively; how to make children books more appealing to pupils, how to support the need of children for being in nature and how to make nature the young students’ educator. Few documentary films were shown: “The Teacher”, “Discrimination in schools across Bosnia and Herzegovina”, “This is School”.

Conference participants were also target group for research on attitudes towards current educational policies in the field of professional development of teachers, which analysed their role in curriculum development, and presented them as advocates for new models of education. The research also considered teachers’ motivation to take part in introducing novelties to school programs and curriculums. The results will be available at www.inskola.com  the portal for the exchange of good practices and the exchange of all available materials.

NEPC representatives had the chance to get to know better the Step by Step’s award on innovation in education as a tool to encourage teachers to take brave and new step in classroom taking into account students’ wellbeing.

All NEPC representatives logged onto the portal and became members of the Network of Innovative Teachers.

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