What is Erasmus+?
Erasmus+ is the EU’s program to support education, training, youth, and sport in Europe.
It has an estimated budget of €26.2 billion.
The program places a strong focus on social inclusion, green and digital transitions, and promoting young people’s participation in democratic life.
It supports priorities and activities set out in the European Education Area, Digital Education Action Plan, and the European Skills Agenda.
Organizations wanting to participate in Erasmus+ may engage in a number of development and networking activities, including strategic improvement of the professional skills of their staff, organizational capacity building, and creating transnational cooperative partnerships with organizations from other countries in order to produce innovative outputs or exchange best practices.
In addition, organizations facilitate learning mobility opportunities for students, education staff, trainees, apprentices, volunteers, youth workers, and young people.
The benefits for involved organizations include an increased capacity to operate at an international level, improved management methods, access to more funding opportunities and projects, increased ability to prepare, manage, and follow-up projects, as well as a more attractive portfolio of opportunities for learners and staff at participating organizations.
In a nutshell, the Erasmus+ program offers the opportunity to send or receive teachers, trainers, headmasters, and any other school, university, and adult education staff who are all eligible to receive an Erasmus plus grant, covering all the training course costs including travel, board and lodging and course fee, for teaching or professional development purposes. They can take part in a training course in another country if your organization gets the Erasmus+ grant. More information is on the official Erasmus website.
But, what is the importance of the ETALarissa teacher training courses?
For ETALarissa Teacher Training Programs help improve teachers in adult education, time management, technical knowledge, motivating the educational and local community, in general, and teaching skills. Thus resulting in the overall improvement of the institution.
The benefits for the organization include an increased capacity to operate at an international level, improved management skills, access to more funding opportunities and projects, increased ability to prepare, manage, and follow-up projects, a more attractive portfolio of opportunities, and the opportunity to develop innovative projects with partners from around the world.
Key Action 1: Learning mobility of individuals
“The organization is an association of teachers of English which according to its statute aims at: –
providing its members with professional development through training courses, conferences, and educational events so that they can be better teachers at their schools – ensuring their moral and emotional development in order that they can better serve the local community as active citizens.
To that end, our association has created partnerships with local, national, and international organizations
i.e. the Municipality of Larissa, EEPEK (https://www.eepek.gr/el/), American Embassy (https://gr.usembassy.gov/education-culture/), TESOL Greece (https://tesolgreece.org/) KETHEA (Therapy Centre for Addictions: https://www.kethea.gr/en/), Teachers for Europe (https://www.teachers4europe.eu/), ECML (https://www.ecml.at/ ), Global Village Project (https://globalvillageproject.org/).
In cooperation with these bodies, we have organized
various events addressed not only to our members but also to the wider community.
Moreover, the association has become an active member of the “Larissa Learning City”
network, which is responsible for creating training opportunities for disadvantaged social groups and individuals. Our members are already active contributors to this network’s actions to build a thriving inclusive learning environment in the city in the wake of the financial crisis Our association can manage and implement the project efficiently as the Board Members have previous experience in similar projects.”
To give you a broader idea, I am sharing two of the mobilities I have personally taken part in, representing ETALarissa, during the last two years.
All the information below comes from our collaborative mobility diaries.
Soft Skills and Emotional Intelligence for teachers and education staff
Arrival date: 25/07/2021 Departure Date: 31/07/2021
Venue: Palermo, Sicily, Italy
This structured intense course aims to enable participants to improve their soft skills such as team working, working in a multicultural environment, managing a team, leadership, crisis and conflicts management, public speaking, communication, and meeting management. The general aim of this course is to foster excellence in education by empowering teachers, trainers, headmasters, and other education staff to improve their soft skills together with other participants and trainers throughout all of Europe gaining as well a broader understanding of education in Europe, and exchanging best practices and experiences.
Thanks to this course the participants:
– Acquire knowledge and tools about teamwork and team management, conflict management, meeting management, public speaking, and communication through specific practical learning sessions; – Improve their practical soft skills through group exercises and tools’ simulations;
– Cooperate and learn in an international context improving their capacity to communicate in English and teamwork in a multicultural environment;
– Improve their Curriculum Vitae competencies and their employability perspectives;
– Exchange best practices and share experiences with participants and staff coming throughout Europe; – Make contacts with individuals and organizations working in the education field in Europe through everyday cooperation and networking and team-building activities;
– Visit and network with Italian institutions. More information on the website: www.erasmustrainingcourses.eu
The first day was the introduction to the course and the trainer provided us with useful information concerning our stay. The team building activities were successful in letting us mingle and meet each other and refer to our expectations of the program.
There was a PowerPoint presentation and five different activities took place, each helping us visualize what was presented. The most important points covered were:
The kind of soft skills we are going to explore, mentioning as a very basic one, is the N.L.P skill and its presuppositions. Based on that a teacher should break up his students’ beliefs in order to motivate them.
Furthermore, unless you try, fail, and try again you will not learn and eventually succeed in your visions.
Another point was the quote by Alfred Korzibsky “the map is not the territory”, which reminded us that each person perceives things and learns in a different manner. This quote was actually used by us during lunch and dinner.
Culturally we walked around the town, sightseeing and tasting local delicacies on our own.
We started off the day with a wrap-up activity to see what we remembered from the previous day and made a mind map of everything.
Afterward, we focused on leadership styles and had a group activity on that. Next, there was a ninja move from our trainer when he asked us to prepare a 2-minute speech ( in 10 seconds) and deliver it. During this activity, there were some revealing moments for most of us. We are waiting for the feedback.
Then we went on to communication styles, how to achieve assertiveness, and how to use it as an effective way of communication. Through an activity, we practiced saying no and how recognizing different learning styles.
In the afternoon we spent a beautiful evening in the historic city of Palermo guided by Guilia Zambou. The day ended under the lit streets of via Marquesa.
Morning wrap-up. We were divided into two groups to discuss leadership styles and communication types which were the topics of the previous day while commenting on each other’s public speech attempts and presenting it in the front.
Next, our trainer presented us with an activity we could try with our colleagues/ students, so as to raise awareness concerning the different types of communication we use and how to make the best of it.
Our main topic of the day was non-verbal communication and learning to speak body language. We focused on: eye contact, posture, and tone of voice, important elements when delivering a speech. All this was supported by discussing extensive examples of different body positions and the signal they convey.
Yet the day finished early so as to have a guided tour in Cefalu which included swimming in the Mediterranean waters under the hot sun.
After the morning wrap-up, where we elaborated on body language and the significance of non-verbal communication, we focused on public speech. After defining what a public speech is, we were shown the main principles of one. Today’s training involved a lot of theory on how to prepare a speech and the ways we can use to highlight what’s important. “The audience is always on our side” is a presupposition. There were some more activities in between and towards the end we were shown videos of our first attempts at public speaking. We all commented and our trainer provided us with his feedback.
In the afternoon we enjoyed a guided tour in Monreale where we saw the famous cathedral, which is part of the Unesco heritage list of monuments.
Another day passed, knowledge was acquired, and connections were made. Erasmus has so much to offer!
A week has passed and we haven’t even realized it. We summed up everything on public speech and moved on to emotional intelligence. It was a day full of activities starting with the 5 pillars of emotional quotient and an empathy bingo. We all won because it was a win/win situation. This is not the case with conflict as we learned afterward. Although it can be positive, one may choose when, how, and where to engage. So we’ve put on our thinking hats and tried to reach a resolution. Not always easy.
But all good things come to an end. So we took our certificates and pictures and.. headed off to the beach. We said goodbye to Sicily and our new friends with a lot of pizza, some wine, and some dancing.
Teaching tolerance, diversity, and active citizenship in the 21st-century classroom
Training session: 20.06 – 26.06.2022
Venue: Escola Superior de Educação, Santarém , Portugal
Our training was based on the “My Europe – Your Europe – Your Say”(ME-YOU-US) project resulted from the joint expertise and experience of like-minded organizations from different sectors of education who believe that every individual is unique, equally worthy, and has the right to live according to their beliefs, customs, practices and established behavior rules. Europe is quite different compared to what it used to be a few years ago. Globalization and migration have brought together people from different ethnic origins, religious backgrounds, beliefs, traditions, and languages. However, sharing a common space does not automatically result in overcoming the boundaries of historically constituted communities; it does not necessarily involve opening yourself to otherness. It even resulted in the opposite: nationalistic and xenophobic political parties have been emerging and gaining public support in many EU countries, with the six partner countries included.
Considering the latest events and development trends in Europe the idea of launching a project that will provide support to educators in their mission to teach students to live with the new realities in Europe, not only to accept the diversity of people and concepts but to value it as an opportunity through which we can learn from one another in order to build stronger, more dynamic societies, seemed crucial.
We have realized our fears and expectations about the course and not only.
Also, we understood that we have to learn to be more tolerant and value diversity to learn from each other and build stronger and more dynamic societies. To do so, teachers and students need tools and training.
Globalization and migration have brought together people from different ethnic origins, religions, backgrounds, beliefs, traditions, and languages.
We have considered our students` objectives: to believe in and respect human rights, value every member of society as a human being, to be actively involved in the community, which are just a few of them.
All in all, our course modules include diversity, human rights, and active citizenship.
Positive aspects of the first day ;
The networking activities, the warm-up ice breakers, and the team-building games we played working in teams, both indoors and outdoors.
Today, we worked on formal, non-formal, and informal education: characteristics, similarities, and differences.
We agreed that formal education is usually less creative, teacher-oriented, rather monotonous, exams oriented, and less effective, with a well-planned syllabus and limited teaching of life skills. We also agreed that nonformal education is usually based on satisfaction, fun, intrinsic motivation, freedom of choice, and observation. On the other hand, informal education involves caring teachers and an informal curriculum, and it is usually spontaneous, highly motivating, and essential to life-long learning.
We also practiced several non-formal highly interesting evaluation techniques.
We were introduced to the human rights module and experienced a few relevant team-building activities and games.
Finally, we stepped in the shoes of students and participated in a training session from the human rights module followed by the course daily evaluation.
Positive aspects of the first day ;
The networking activities and the human rights team building activities and games, both indoors and outdoors.
Negative aspects of the first day:
The lack of networking and cultural activities and leisure time spent with the course partners, in the afternoons.
Today, we were sent the digital teacher’s manual and were introduced to its content, in detail.
We were also introduced to the “Diversity and Social Inclusion” module, its energizers, and its objectives.
We learned how to recognize the manifestation of social exclusion behavior.
We also learned how to create a culture of zero tolerance for social exclusion as a form of bullying in the school environment.
Finally, we discussed one`s responsibility in fighting social exclusion.
We stepped in the shoes of students and participated in a training session from the FSI module, in which we were asked to participate in sketches, concerning either social inclusion or social exclusion.
Additionally, we learned how to teach our students how to reflect, using Bonno`s 6 thinking hats and we were introduced to several relaxation techniques which are related to diversity.
All in all, we understood that thinking about past and future events and decisions can be frustrating and that life is complex, therefore we should always distinguish between the different aspects of a decision, in order to see the real picture before we take action.
The group social interaction and bonding were today`s highlights.
First, we participated in inspiring group activities, which had to do with the Theatre of the Oppressed and later we visited the Municipality House of Santarem and were offered a tour of the town by a professional guide.
The only negative comment concerns the lack of practical support and quidance by the course organizers when it comes to our evening cultural activities and day trips.
Today, we went on an educational day trip to an inclusive public Portuguese School: Agrupamento de Escolas Cidade do Entroncamento AECE (in the town of Entroncamento) where there we were welcomed by the school principal of AECE or Escolá Básica da Zona Verde.
We discussed practical activities making use of the training resources in the Teachers’ Toolkit for teaching Human rights, Diversity, and Active Citizenship by the teachers from the school.
We realized that for Portugal, inclusive education is for all students. This means that there is no distinction between student groups and no labeling of students. Instead, students’ individual needs are considered and supported by various measures in schools.
Portugal has had in place laws envisioning the provision of education for all students, without exception, in their local mainstream schools.
Special schools are being transformed into resource centers for inclusion, supporting their former students, now placed in mainstream schools.
Instead of categorizing students, Portugal supports the idea that all students can achieve a profile of competencies and skills.
It emphasizes flexible curricular models, systematic monitoring of the effectiveness of interventions, and collaboration with parents.
A key feature is an emphasis on collaboration, with a well-established pattern of schools working in local clusters.
As the Portuguese education system moved forward in relation to inclusion over the last two decades, the country has also seen impressive developments in terms of equity.
It is one of the few countries with improvement in all of the subjects assessed by OECD’s PISA.
The rate of early leavers from education has reduced significantly.
All in all, we were impressed by both the quality of education and the hospitality and friendliness of the whole school community, in the typical local school we visited.
The group social interaction and further bonding were today`s highlights, once again, during both the educational day trip to Educamento and the recreational afternoon trips, in the area.
After-class bonding and networking are not actually enhanced among the course partners, by the organizers. It fully depends on us.
Today has been a highly busy training course day.
It kicked off by visiting the Escola Superior de Educacao STEAM Labs and experiencing STEAM, in practice.
We were first presented with and next practiced creative STEM activities, for students.
We were then presented with the Science and Math creative lab targets: interdisciplinary teaching practices, innovative learning environments and collaboration, problem and project-based learning, robotics, and programming.
We were also shown the lab’s digital resources, research outcomes, and sustainability activities.
A presentation of the spaces which are related to the lab projects, along with practice with a variety of interactive space STEM activities, followed.
We were later introduced to the ” Identity and Active Citizenship” module.
Afterward, we stepped in the shoes of students and participated in three training sessions, from that module.
We put special emphasis on European values, a few of which we agreed should be: respect for human dignity, freedom, peace, tolerance, solidarity, equality, democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights and minorities.
We also discussed life values that should be taught at home and tried several group bonding activities and activities about people in need.
A group discussion followed related to the
” Identity and Active Citizenship ” module.
We were finally asked to share ideas and practical solutions about suggested social problems of people in need.
The group social interaction and further bonding were today`s highlights, once again, mainly during the educational day trip to the town of Tomar, together with the majority of partners.
The day started with a reference to the need to make use of the training and NFE tools in the everyday teaching and learning process- discussion, and sharing ideas.
Then, the participants were presented with the eTwinning platform and the opportunities for schools.
A practical session followed about registering on the platform and planning collaborative projects. There was a focus on networking and future collaboration. We continued with a discussion about prospective partnerships and an Erasmus+, KA1, and KA2 projects fair ended the first part of the day.
Later, we went to Sintra and Quinta da Regaleira on a cultural visit, getting to know Portugal and the roots of the tolerance and open-mindedness of Portuguese people.
Finally, we received our Certificates and shared our final evaluation of the project.
The day ended with a short trip to Lisbon.
The group social interaction and further bonding were today`s highlights, once again, mainly during the educational day trip in order to get to know the Portuguese cultural heritage and each other more.