Developing a sustainable in-school professional development system for Kosovo’s Primary Schools


Most of the teacher training efforts in Kosovo in the last ten years have focused on seminars and workshops for individual teachers in a location away from the school. This form of delivery creates a gap between learning and using skills and knowledge. Teachers rarely receive support back in their school to help them implement their new learning.  In addition, teachers were rarely provided with modern educational technology to help them implement new approaches.

The Basic Education Program has adopted an approach in which specialist teachers are trained as facilitators to support their colleagues and help them to implement new approaches in the classroom. The process is as follows:

  • Selected teachers attend a specialist course in their subject for three days.
  • They then attend a three day course in facilitation standards before they are certified as facilitators of learning.
  • They are provided with the appropriate education technologies to help them to implement new activities in their schools and practically apply their learning within their own classrooms.
  • Facilitators from several schools meet in local Professional Development Centers to plan how to organize professional development workshops in their schools.
  • The facilitators then organize workshops and support activities for colleagues in their own schools.

In all these activities they are supported by the Basic Education program Master Facilitators.

Between 16 and 30th of September, over 110 participants were involved in this process. During this period, Kosovo Education Center (KEC) organized:

  • one workshop with 24 science teachers – facilitators to train them in new approaches in problem based and differentiated learning in sciences,
  • four workshops with 90 teachers of Technology, English language, Environment related subjects, and Sciences to train them in facilitation standards, and
  • one workshop with 18 mainly technology teachers who will be engaged in establishing and maintaining Student Support Technician Clubs in the first nine Kosovo Schools.

During the workshops, the facilitators were actively involved in discussing new methods and new ways of communicating with their peers. They requested more information materials and support in working with school principals and their colleagues. KEC staff will design materials to meet this need. During all the courses, facilitators were introduced to the electronic portfolios that will facilitate their communication with both peers and KEC master facilitators and technical staff.

 

In the science workshops, the facilitators demonstrated their commitment by bringing recycled materials from everyday life to implement numerous activities in the workshops. An old toy train, used carton boxes, used paper and paper clips, CDs, and glass marbles served well for four groups to assemble the four segments of a “Rube Goldberg” to demonstrate the transfer of energy. The term “design challenge” became familiar and participants and groups were ‘challenging’ one another all the time with new problems and tasks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the standards workshop with Technology teachers it was reported that a nascent ‘Association of Technology Teachers”, had been formed by a group of facilitators. They have drafted a letter proposing that the number of technology hours in schools be increased. A letter setting out arguments in favor of increased hours was signed by 350 technology teachers and submitted to the Head of MEST Curriculum Division. The association is working to make technology teaching and learning more relevant and attractive so that students and parents opt for it for additional elective classes.

 

Facilitators of environment related subjects proposed to develop one theme (e.g. “clean water”) and address it from the perspective of various subjects in a cross-curricular approach. This approach is in line with the new Curriculum.

 

English language facilitators began preparations for the “Junior Oscar” competition that will be entered by several Kosovo schools between October and December 2011. Teacher facilitators came up with numerous ideas of how best to use flip-cameras distributed by the BEP project during the discipline workshop in May 2011.

 

In order to better understand the needs of minority communities, two facilitators, one Bosniac and one Turkish were identified to serve as ‘community facilitators’. KEC master facilitators will work with them individually to build their capacity as community focal points.

 

These and the other initiatives outlined above will help to build a professional community of practice that lead to more sustainable professional development and better quality teaching and learning in schools.