Since this health crisis started, I feel confident in my ICT competences. I feel challenged in multiple never experienced situations, and, sometimes, I feel helpless to not being able to help all my 4th-grade students. My school is situated near a big city, but it does not have running water, indoor toilettes, or internet connection. So, my challenge is to reach students that do not have smartphones or internet connection. Only half of them have smartphones with e-connection (which the signal quality is often not good), and, just a few of them have the parents’ support on the devices’ use.
We started doing online lessons since the first day of the quarantine with half of my pupils. They were familiar with the technology because it was often used while teaching and in our eTwinning projects. After about two weeks, my school made accounts for every student and every teacher to use a platform that would help the teaching process. Our Ministry of Education announced that we were not allowed to teach new lessons and to grade the homeworks, tests, and projects. Teachers could only keep the lessons to the level that we were before the health crisis started.
Finally, when starting to use the platform provided it was a nightmare. Teachers were not prepared to use them and we had no general protocols to follow in these circumstances. I took lessons on how to use that specific platform and had help from my two teenage sons. Then, when I grasped how to navigate on it, I had to explain to every student how to enter and use it as well. Only a quarter of my students are using the platform and I was still not able to connect with the ones that do not have smartphones or internet connection.
The answer to my problem came from an organisation called Love for Life. Their aim is to reach all the children without internet connection, that are feeling abandoned by the educational system and that are at risk of giving up on school forever. The founder gathered a few hardworking teachers (me included) to create a series of lessons based on stories that can be transmitted via radio or TV. The lessons aim to develop 21st Century Competencies and are structured on 3 levels: 4-8 years old, 9-12 years old and 13-15 years old. For the first lessons, we prepared to the 4-8 years old a series of lessons called “The Universe of emotions” and for the other ones “The Entrepreneur Mentality”. All these lessons are read by a professional volunteer actress and all are ending with a challenge: in a journal, the students need to write/draw their answers to every challenge.
The STEM component of all these lessons is a FLOWER. Yes, a flower! The process of teaching starts with the story of a flower that was born on a country dusty road. Every time she tried to grow up, she was stepped on by people or animals, so she decided just to keep herself alive and not to grow anymore. When a man took her to his garden she did not develop. She was afraid that someone would step on her and crush her again. The men explained to her that she should not live her life in fear and that she should try, little by little, to grow and be the best that she can. So, every day, the flower became stronger, and stronger, until she was the most beautiful flower of all.
Like the little flower, the students are encouraged to find out what they like the most to do (e.i.: to fish, to draw, to study, to do sports, to build a house, to drive cars, to look at the sky, to learn about insects or plants, etc). Suggesting to them to every day do something towards their goal. This way, they can become the best version of themselves.
Currently, we are searching for radio and tv stations to deliver our lessons and we are working to create new lessons. However, after 5 weeks of quarantine, we still do not have a clear protocol to follow under these circumstances. But we keep on being strong, thriving, using creativity and love to remain strong and together (even if far away) in this period. My colleagues and I aim to help each other and the students the best way we can.
Author by: Florentina Paduraru, Romania Scientix Ambassador