Undeniably, after the two-year pandemic, during which classroom activity came to a halt and was transferred online, students have become alienated from both the teacher’s authority and from the social group to which they had belonged, some finding a comfort zone behind the turned off computer cameras. It should not be inferred that teaching students online would have been deprived of professional satisfaction. On the contrary! It is surprising, however, how fragile we find our fellow students, now that they are back to school! They seem more sensitive, more vulnerable to words or attitudes and easier to hurt by others.
That is why the course Facing Behavioural Problems- Indiscipline, Racism and Bullying in the Classroom has put an emphasis on developing empathy, consideration, and group activities outside the school environment, which distract students from the paradigm of challenges, peer pressure or establishing the pecking order, thus directing them towards teamwork, developing positive attitudes and valuing their own qualities.
The experience of participating in the school education project – Facing Behavioural Problems- Indiscipline, Racism and Bullying in the Classroom (reference number 2022-1-RO01-KA122-SCH-000077858, funded by the EU) between 22-27 October 2022 in Limassol, Cyprus, has offered broad perspectives, both intellectual and cultural, as well as exposure to the international work environment. The purpose of participating in this project of five teachers starts from a series of needs of our school, the Economic High School “Al. I. Cuza”, from Piatra-Neamt, identified by the project team: the decrease in the number of students with behavioural problems such as indiscipline, bullying and deviant behaviour, an increase in the students’ motivation to attend classes, and a decrease in the academic failure of students, in order to increase both the professional and social insertion on the labour market, as well as an improvement in the schoolteachers’ skills to work in teams to address students’ behavioural problems.
The trainer of the EDUCULTURE Center of Education in Limassol, Zara Keady – a dedicated professional, adjusted the teaching methods based on the needs, attitudes, and professional profiles of the participants from Romania, Estonia, and Germany, to ensure productivity, effectiveness, and transferability in practice. Thus, professional links were formed with European specialists in education and training.
The methodology was practical and participatory, with an approach that included valuing personal and professional experience, examination of case studies and simulations. Collaborative working methods that foster mutual learning and cooperation between participants were incorporated. The objective was dynamic learning in an interactive and multicultural environment. The pedagogical methods used were based on group activities, learning through practice and exchange of good practices. During the course, participants worked in teams, thus having the chance to learn from each other, as well as to receive feedback from the trainer. We have gained knowledge and skills to implement conflict management and assertive communication, to stimulate empathy in cases of racism or bullying, to develop in students a sense of belonging to the group and to identify the triggers of indiscipline. The course outlined step-by-step strategies for approaching each actor- victim, aggressor, witness, parent, teacher, school institution manager or school psychologist. The participants were informed of the Cyprus state institutions dealing with the prevention of racism and bullying, in particular the existence of a national platform for reporting incidents of this type.
Computer operating skills were also useful by achieving the theme proposed by the trainer for each team – a PPT illustrating the mise-en-scene of an activity that celebrates multiculturalism. The result was several presentations about the awareness of cultural differences that enrich the students’ personal experience, accompanied by research activities on cultural differences. They can be used in the classroom successfully. We have improved our skills in interpersonal communication, public speech planning and teamwork.
In their spare time, participants were given the opportunity to get to know two important regions for the Cypriot cultural heritage – Paphos and Limassol. The participants visited historical sites – the Medieval Castle and the Limassol Archaeological Museum, the Archaeological Museum of Paphos, cultural benchmarks– the Municipal Fine Art Gallery in Limassol, the Old Town, as well as the traditional village with specific architecture and religious landmarks.
The assessment of the acquired skills will be done through self-evaluation and through the quality of the material to be written (a guide entitled “Effective Management of Indiscipline and Bullying in Classes”), through the activities, projects and programmes implemented in the school following the participation in the course, through disseminating the project in the school and in the teachers’ community in the county, by integrating the project results into the school’s current activity (the School’s Action Plan) and by implementing activities, projects and programmes for students in order to distract them from indiscipline and bullying in the follow-up stage. Parents will also be the beneficiaries of information/ training workshops to increase the level of involvement in the education of their children.
For further information on the results of the project, we invite the interested fellow teachers to access the Economic High School “Al. I. Cuza” website, lteant.wordpress.com.