Are the teachers’ given recognition for their work and professional development in eTwinning? This workshop aimed to explore the different models of formal and informal recognition for teachers’ work in an eTwinning context existing in some countries.
The workshop moderator, Patricia Wastiau from European Schoolnet gave in her opening presentation an overview of a study of case studies on strategies, enablers and barriers concerning recognition for work in eTwinning carried out by teachers and pupils. The case studies showed that eTwinning can be “a safe laboratory” to test innovative pedagogies, gain confidence in project management and invest in ICT among other things. Except of schools that are engaged for innovation, eTwinning appears to be the only enabler for these professional development opportunities. The reported informal forms of recognition include mutual help between colleagues or school celebrations including even parents and local community. The formal forms include flexible timetable management and reduction of teaching hours, receiving equipment (rare) or financial compensations (very rare). Teachers themselves appreciate most school ceremonies, letters to parents about their pupils achievements in eTwinning projects or memorial plaques. In European level the eTwinning gives recognition through different ways: eTwinning awards scheme, quality labels and other professional development activities.
Elo Allemann from Tiger Leap Foundation, Estonia, gave an overview of the measures that the National Support Services support to promote and observe changes in teachers’ pedagogical practice in the classroom. It is notable that about 10% of Estonian schools have signed up for eTwinning. Participation in eTwinning gives teachers a possibility to showcase their professional development, ICT skills and how they integrate new methods into daily curriculum. eTwinning activities also support and develop the pupils’ main competencies assessed by National Curriculum in 2010: digital and social competencies. Instead of recognition the following are considered as benefits for teachers’ professional development: possiblity to do networking with colleagues, trying out new methodology and pedagogy and possibility to take part in trainings among other things. However, what is most motivating for the teachers are better motivated pupils.
Irene Pateraki presented the Greek model for teacher recognition and told that « sometimes informal recognition is more important than formal recognition ». In Greece, teachers who organize eTwinning projects have some opportunities to show their work and gain formal recognition. These opportunities include National eTwinning Awards, being able to work two hours less per week, presenting their projects in conferences and workshops among others. Yet the recognition by pupils and parents is sometimes the most important one. Parents are very supportive of such projects and even helpful to organise it and pupils become really enthusiastic about working with European partners and show their appreciation to their teacher. Also what was pointed out by Irene Pateraki is that the teachers in eTwinning usually work more and therefore succeed more. This already serves as a recognition.
Agustin Muñoz from the Spanish National Support Service presented three ways of activities and types of recognition used in Spain. First of all, national/regional online course gather around 800 teachers per year (the courses count for professional development records). Secondly the teachers can take part in professional development workshops. Lastly, the eTwinning projects can be evaluated on a case by case basis through standard project reporting and very well defined criteria. In all the Spanish key factors for recognition include: building prestige of the eTwinning program action; making it well known at school and at the education administration level; and make agreements, regulations and laws establishing max-min credit system for participating in an eTwinning project and establishing evaluation criteria.
Tomacz Szymczak from Poland presented the Polish model for teacher recognition. eTwinning fulfills many of the requirements of the teachers professional advancement in terms of using ICT tools, implementing the project methodology, use of foreign languages, participation in the European school collaboration and sharing knowledge, professional experience with other teachers and broadening the scope of school activities. For this reason taking part in eTwinning is often very beneficial to the teacher’s professional development. “A teacher who carries out eTwinning projects has a better chance of obtaining professional advancement more easily” says Wojciech Wasylko who started in the eTwinning programme from the very beginning and is now an eTwinning Ambassador. The Polish eTwinning teachers can benefit of a versatile support provided by the NSS: online courses, regional and national and thematic conferences, European professional development workshops, contact seminars and eThursdays.
Download the presentations here (PDF):