The workshop – on the conference theme of School Teams – was presented by Bart Verswijvel, a teacher of Flemish in a technical and vocational school in Flanders and a member of the Belgian Flemish Nss.
“Like the chess board flying into the room in the legend of King Arthur´s knights of the round table”, an opportunity to find out more about eTwinning, presented itself years years ago at Immaculata Instituut. Bart and a colleague attended the first workshop and as they returned to the school they started a project together with a third teacher. The next year the three eTwinners got a few more teachers involved. Since that first workshop in 2006, the school has had more than 40 eTwinning projects. How did they do this, and what tips are there to be shared with eTwinners, who want to embed eTwinning in their school?
“There´s a role to play for every teacher”
An important point Bart Verswijvel made, is that not all teachers have to be initiators or leaders when it comes to eTwinning. There are roles for everyone; the role of the initiator, the role of the teacher partner (a teacher who participates in a project with an initiator) the freelance teacher (the teacher who might not even be registered but who contributes to a project through the content of his/her teaching), the interactive public (teachers and students you tell about eTwinning, who according to Verswijvel are important spreaders) and the head teacher.
”eTwinning is not a travel agency”
Explaining eTwinning to others is important – and can also be difficult, is another point made by the presenter. The conception of teachers not involved in the programme, can be that eTwinning is about travelling – or that it involves too much work. But it is possible to make it as simple as possible, says Verswijvel
One proof of this is the one lesson eTwinning project in English, where pupils in the Netherlands, Belgium and France met through FlashMeeting. Through asking and answering questions, and giving hints, the different classes had to guess what item was hidden under a towel in their classroom:
Some of the tips we got on how to embed eTwinning in our schools were
- organizing eTwinning training or workshops at the school (inviting ambassadors or Nss to speak)
- presenting eTwinning at the School´s Open Day
- giving students in eTwinning projects the task of presenting what they have been involved in to other classes – reaching both other pupils and teachers
- inviting colleagues into eTwinning activities, without them being part of the actual project
- connecting your project to other activities done at school (for example Safer Internet Day)
- “don´t keep eTwinning a secret”
Participant reflection after the workshop: “When I go back to my school I will …”
Irena Rimc Voglar, a language teacher from a Slovenian school, is in the same situation as many eTwinners: she´s the only eTwinner at her school. Has the workshop given her ideas for involving colleagues once she goes home?
“The workshop was very useful. I´m the only eTwinning teacher in a village school. When I go back I will present eTwinning and my project at the school´s Open Day. I will also set out to find two teacher partners for my next project. I also liked the idea of the pupils presenting their eTwinning activities in other classes”