The course “Preventing conflicts and tackling Early School Leaving”, which took place in Bologna from 03/10/2021 to 09/10/2021, was attended by 8 participants from Spain and Romania: Lucía and Margalida from IES Calvia, Rosalía from IES Cavaleri, Ana, Daiana, Giorgaina, Petru and Ioan from Technological High School of St. Dimitrie Teregova and Alexandra from Școala Gimnazială Porumbacu De Jos.
Early school leaving is a widespread problem across Europe and being in a European context, participants got the chance to explore different perspectives at the national level. On the first day, they focused on defining what Early School Leaving means and on identifying the main risk factors. This allowed the participants to draw and share a realistic picture of their school experience with Early School Leaving, starting from the underlying causes, and finishing with the potential consequences.
From the assessment of participants’ expectation, the most relevant expectations that emerged were “promoting a positive and innovative learning environment” and “learning new methodologies to enhance students’ motivation”. To address them, the course focused on four major prevention approaches: connecting to our students, fostering conflict management skills, establishing an environment of collaborative learning and battling negativity in the classroom.
We started from the assumption that in order to develop a early school leaving approach, we deeply need to connect to our students, to be closer to their interests and their feelings. The participants engaged in hands-on activities to learn about the importance of active listening and emotional intelligence in creating social connection.
The participants went on discovering the conflict management topic. First, we dedicated some time for a perspective change. With the support of an inspirational TED Talk, the group who initially associated the idea of conflict to something essentially negative, realized afterwards how conflicts provided in their life unique opportunities to improve their relationship, communication and understanding.
Afterwards the group practiced some non-formal activities to reflect the importance of membership and collaboration. Strategies for collaborative work and peer-education were analysed.
The key word of this week training course was “transformation”: we learned how to change perspective on conflicts, how to transform the strong and sometimes negative energy of some students into something positive and productive, how to change our mindset from fixed to growth, how to transform a group of people into a team. To quote the words of one of our participants... “the course helps you to improve your communication with students and to realize that conflicts help to improve relationships”