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  • Writer's pictureThe BZ Team

STOP, BREATHE & THINK! - WHEN TEACHERS ARE LEARNERS

Believe it or not, even teachers have to learn sometimes! Thanks to the wonderful Erasmus+ project and the EU funds, Bright Horizons teachers keep learning new skills and methods, so that they can teach us how to deal with life - friendships, family, problems and everything! This year many of our teachers were involved in Erasmus+ projects and during the year they travelled to other countries. They learned all sorts of interesting things and when they returned, they shared their knowledge and skills with us, other teachers and everyone around them!


Our article is a bit longer this time, but our teachers have been so busy this year that we decided to give them this extra space and time. We also wanted to share all their Erasmus+ adventures with you - they deserve it because they transfer that knowledge and those skills to us. If you wish to learn a bit more about the project from official sources, visit our school's website here.


MINDFULNESS IN PORTUGAL


Our principal and school counsellor travelled to a very interesting place and Ms Đurić shared some of the activities they did there.


We travelled to Lagoa, Portugal. Some of the other participants were from: Latvia, Germany and Spain

During our journey we learned about various topics, some of which were: finding peace in a frantic world, what is mindfulness?, What is stress?, how to wake up from autopilot, mindful breathing activities, being aware and paying attention, mindful listening and speaking, working with difficulties (how to respond instead of react) and various gratitude practices.


I personally shared my new knowledge with those closest to me, especially my family. We all have those stressful days and it's these days that Mindfulness can really help. I shared with my family how Mindful breathing can help a person reconnect with themselves and how it can help with lowering their stress levels.


We work with children that are one day going to be grown-up members of our society. In order for our pupils to be responsible and successful members of our community we need to equip them with the relevant skills of the future and how do we as teachers do that? Well by educating ourselves and keeping up to date with the new trends and needs of the work markets. It's for this reason that I truly believe teachers need to keep learning new things. I'm quite a big believer of: The educational journey never ends.


RESILIENCE IN BARCELONA


Ms Manestar and Ms Postružin travelled to another place. We even got to interview Ms Postružin about it and this is what she shared...


1. Where did you travel to for your Erasmus project ‘Stop, Breathe & Think’ this year?


We travelled to Barcelona from 7th to 11th November, 2022. It was organised by: Europass Teacher Academy, and our course was called: ‘ RESILIENCE AND WELL-BEING STRENGTHS FOR TEACHERS’. 2. Who were the other participants on your trip?


Marina Clauzet was our amazing teacher trainer at Europass Teacher Academy, and she is an art therapist and art mediator. Her pupils were Paula, a teacher from Portugal, Ms Manestar and I :). 3. What did you learn during your trip?


Our learning outcomes were clearly defined by the project and we worked on all of them. Here they are:

  • Identify and analyze the strengths necessary for achieving wellbeing and behaving resiliently;

  • Appreciate the differences and connections between wellbeing and resilience;

  • Appreciate the personal empowerment that comes from adopting a growth mindset;

  • Develop awareness and skill in taking regular measurements of personal states of wellbeing and monitoring internal narrative;

  • Recognize that emotions can be managed and supported through the activation of a set of resilient behaviors;

  • Share wellbeing and resilience experiences through the creation of analogies and storytelling;

  • Develop compassion and empathy towards themselves and others;

  • Face and deal with fears head-on;

  • Build a bespoke resilience toolkit to apply at work and play.

4. Have you shared your new skills with someone and how?


Yes; many activities I learnt there are applicable to pupils. I shared all the activities with my colleagues. I particularly enjoyed painting mandala. 5. Why is it important for teachers to be learning new things?


The world we live in is constantly changing and this is/or it should be a normal part of our lives!





MINDFULNESS IN BARCELONA


Ms Šarina and Ms Ivanović travelled to Barcelona and came back with plenty of activities for mindfulness in life and schools, which they then taught the teachers and the pupils. Here is what Ms Šarina told us about their stay...


Ms Ivanović and I had an amazing opportunity to go to learn more about mindfulness hands-on activities in a classroom in Barcelona. We were in Barcelona last year in October and the weather was sunny and warm. We had such a beautiful stay! The city itself is - WOW! And of course the food; we were just eating and being mindful ;)

We learnt sooo many new techniques and found many new friends around Europe. Our training group was small and sweet, we did many practical tasks and we worked hard on how to implement all that in a classroom. One of the most useful and beautiful memories of last school year!





LIFE SKILLS IN FLORENCE


Ms Končurat and Ms Hraste participated in the Erasmus+ course Happy Schools: Positive Education for Well-Being and Life-Skills Development at the Europass Teacher Academy in Florence, Italy as part of the Stop, Breathe and Think at the end of September and beginning of October. Simply spending time in such an internationally diverse environment with great colleagues and excellent guidance from Susan Gagliano filled all our expectations. The theoretical and practical examples and activities provided us with new perspectives in pedagogy and psychology. We learnt how to use various techniques and methods within our school and during each lesson. We also got an insight into other curricula, methodologies and cultures of European schools. The learning environment was stimulating and inspiring for us as individuals and as teachers. When we returned, we were happy to be able to implement in in our daily teaching and also to share it with other Bright Horizons teachers.





WELLBEING IN MALAGA


Ms Ključarić and Ms Mandić Kaya travelled to beautiful Spain to learn (and teach) some more about wellbeing. If teachers are well, they can not only teach us to feel well but also lead by example - what we see them do is what we will do (and then teach our parents:). Ms Ključarić found the time to share their adventure details with us.

1) Where did you travel to for your Erasmus project ‘Stop, Breathe & Think’ this year?

Ms Mandić Kaya and I are taking part in the Erasmus+ Project Stop Breathe & Think in our school. We participated in emotional education to learn/teach crucial life skills for a peaceful school environment. It was organised by Plus Project European Academy and held in the beautiful and sunny Mediterranean city on Costa del Sol (The Coast of Sun) located in the autonomous community of Andalusia, in Spain.

Besides having our training course, we also had an amazing experience of the city of Málaga. Some of the famous sights we visited were, Castillo de Gibralfaro, Alcazaba, Roman Theatre, The Cathedral of Málaga, Picasso Museum and Foundation and Museum of Málaga. We also experienced a Flamenco Show.

2) Who were the other participants on your trip?

The course took place with the participation of teachers from Germany, Poland and Estonia. The course was led by the local expert trainer with innovative and interactive teaching methods, Ms Neus Gonzales.


3) What did you learn during your trip?

In this course, we learned about different techniques and tools which promote positive and mental health in schools. Furthermore, we improved our personal and professional wellbeing, learned to recognise, name and modulate emotions, facilitate self-awareness, gained emotional problem-solving strategies, we learned how to improve ourselves and our students’ personal skills (resilience, self-esteem, motivation) and social skills (cooperation, communication,

cohesion).

The objectives of this Teacher Training Course Wellbeing in Schools Course for Teachers were to promote physical and mental health in schools, to wake up the inspiring teacher inside of us and be a memorable teacher, to get our best version: connect, inspire, lead, innovate, engage our students, to be an influencer, to identify the feelings, develop a positive self-image, take responsibility for the actions, to explore tools and methods, to help students build their emotional wellbeing, to understand the effects of stress and anxiety and discover ways to reduce stress in the classroom, to promote non-violent communication, to detect current good practices about well-being in schools, to exchange ideas, experiences, materials and cross-cultural practices between colleagues, to increase international cooperation and intercultural awareness.


4) Have you shared your new skills with someone and how?

Ms Mandić Kaya and I held a Professional Development Workshop and shared our new skills with all of our Bright Horizons Teachers. Also, we incorporated some of the activities we learned during our course into our lesson plans.

5) Why is it important for teachers to be learning new things?

The Wellbeing in Schools Course for Teachers was a valuable experience. It is important for teachers to learn new things and my motivation to join this course were to experiment and develop new learning practices and teaching methods, to gain practical skills relevant for my job and professional development, to reinforce or extend my professional network, to share my own knowledge and skills with learners and other teachers, to increase my social, linguistic and/or cultural competences, to increase my job satisfaction and to make new contacts.

The most important experiences during my mobility period was discussing different school systems with our colleagues from different European countries and exchanging teaching strategies, ideas, materials and tips. Our trainer, Ms Gonzales played an important role and helped me remember why I chose this profession and why am I a good teacher, what are my character strengths and how to use them in my classroom. All of the activities and topics covered during our five-day course were linked to the needs and objectives of our school. I was very satisfied with the Wellbeing in Schools Course for Teachers and I would recommend this experience to all of my colleagues.





And here is the mindfulness corner which our Year 2 pupils, inspired by Ms Ključarić, created in their classroom so they could perform their mindfulness activities in a designated area whenever necessary.




Believe it or not, we all benefitted from their travels! Teachers had their staff development and learnt this from each other and then they were able to teach us some coping skills and mindfulness activities, during regular lessons as well as various workshops. We love workshops - they are so much fun and we get to feel like we are playing while learning!


So this is how it's done - our teachers lead by example. They never stop learning so they can teach us new things and techniques!




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