Interview: EDUCAS Trainings show the Importance of Exchange between Teachers
As part of the EDUCAS project, which focuses on creating child- and family-friendly learning spaces within early childhood education and care centers, practitioners at four centers in three countries are benefiting from a continuous professional development path. As part of the project, there are also three international trainings in which researchers, directors and teachers/practitioners from the centers involved in the project meet and have the chance to exchange and learn together.
Three international trainings were planned through the course of EDUCAS – one in Italy, one in Belgium, one in Lithuania. Two have taken place since 2019 with the third planned for the fall of 2020.
Having attended two out of three international trainings, several participants have been interviewed from each country. Erica Catelli who works at the Gelsomino ECEC Center, Proges Parma.
Did the training activities help you in reflecting on your practice? If yes, how?
The training activities of the EDUCAS project helped me reflect on my educational practices and those shared with the working group.
The identified focus area, Educare, as well as the methods and tools used, have helped me rethink and review some fundamental aspects of educational practice and to ask myself new questions: How to make the objectives of the experiences we offer children more explicit for families? Does the pedagogical documentation we use help to make these objectives legible? Can we find a strategy to improve goals sharing with parents?
Did the training activities help you in changing (or planning to change) your practice, in relation to 'spaces' and 'Educare'? If yes, in which way?
The reflections aroused by the meetings and exchanges with other countries, the multiplicity of the looks (educators, parents, pedagogical coordinator, university), the observations, and the video-observations generated a new "look" and opened up new questions: a continuous path was activated with the working group.
Since September, at the beginning of the school year, some spaces have been rethought starting from the reflections made in the first step of the path. For example, the library has found a new space and is now enriched and enhanced with new meanings. It has become a separate, welcoming place, usable by small groups of parents and children or educators and children. At the same time, it has become a meeting place and space for exchange. It helps to live the school and the nursery in a time that is not only the time spent in the class, becoming at the same time an intimate place. Even some spaces in the sections have been reorganized.
Sharing training activities with colleagues from our country and different countries at the same time helps to discover educational perspectives different from ours, but also to review ours with a different view.
Is there an added value in sharing training activities at the same time with colleagues from your own country and colleagues from different countries? If yes, which one(s)?
Learning and knowledge are mostly constructed through the exchange between people. Sharing training activities with colleagues from our country and different countries at the same time helps to discover educational perspectives different from ours, but also to review ours with a different view.
Is there anything you 'discovered' about your practice thanks to these trainings?
These trainings made me reflect on the importance of making more visible and understandable to parents all the practices that we activated to include the “Care” value of the Educare approach: the care itself and the aspects related to emotion.
Which main challenge did you experience in these trainings (if any)?
One of the challenges I have experienced in these trainings is certainly the understanding of how social and cultural aspects influence the educational models of the countries involved, and how a new educational practice can be generated from a plurality of points of view.
The trainings also made me reflect on how necessary it is to review the nursery and school as an open system: to families, who are an active part in the educational and growth of children, and to the territory (unfortunately, a very weak aspect in my reality).
Photo Courtesy of Elena Albero