They began – as all good professional training does – by assessing their colleagues’ existing knowledge and understanding. Using this assessment, the Summer Academy alumni were able to plan ways of developing each colleague’s skills individually, using the method of case technology in a series of teacher workshops.
They also arranged for teachers to work together in groups to develop ways of incorporating elements of education for human rights and democratic citizenship into their specialised subjects.
Fifty-four specialised subject lesson plans were developed, leading to 36 integrated pilot lessons being taught in a variety of subjects – from Ukrainian and World literature, English and Geography to Biology, Chemistry and History – involving 36 teachers and 366 school students.
The training proved to be helpful as well as popular. Many of their colleagues noted how using the sort of active learning techniques that characterise democracy and human rights teaching helped to improve the working atmosphere in their classrooms. It also helped them to fulfil their formal responsibilities as classroom teachers more effectively.
An English teacher said:
“I like the idea of complementing the curriculum with a component of education for democratic citizenship: the state standard only declares civil competence as one of the fundamentals, it does not contain any practical recommendations as to the implementation of this issue.”
An 8th-grade homeroom teacher said:
“The children are working in teams, collaborating, discussing issues of citizenship and democratic behaviour in society, and defending their points of view. But the most interesting thing is that I am also learning a lot of new, useful, proactive, efficient things!”
Online resource centre
To supplement the practical training the project team developed a democratic citizenship and human rights education resource centre on the school website.
In presenting this work more widely, they have begun to attract a lot of interest from in-service teacher training institutions.
Tatiana Babko, Senior Lecturer of the Department of Education and Psychology Zaporizhzhia Regional Institute of Postgraduate Education, says:
“This project is impressive since it is so forward looking. In its own way it is unique for Ukraine and at least ten years ahead of the actual situation in schools. Prospects for the project are promising and multiple.”