In June we organized a four-day Job shadowing mobility for Portuguese teachers in Maribor, the second biggest city in Slovenia. They were interested in acquiring new knowledge and approaches in innovative pedagogies, emotions management, creativity and digitalization so we asked different schools in Maribor to host them and present their schools, teaching methods, projects that they work on etc. Teachers also exchanged information on how the Slovenian and Portuguese education systems work and what should be improved in the future.
On the first day, we visited Srednja šola za oblikovanje Maribor (SŠOM) which is led by the principal Nadja Jager Popović. The visit was very interesting as she presented her leadership techniques which she uses to lead the team of teachers and her students. What we really liked is that they use an innovative approach to encourage their students to develop their ideas from the beginning until the end, meaning that they have to bring their preliminary concept from the first draft to the finished design. Another thing which is also interesting is the way the students exhibit their work throughout the school corridor walls and classrooms which, in the end, encourages their creativity and motivation as all of the students give their best as “a little” competition is present and the reward is the place in the exhibition of all of the students’ best work.
The second visit was organized at Zavod Antona Martina Slomška, an institution of the Archdiocese of Maribor, which primarily deals with education and intergenerational cooperation. First, we had the presentation of the Montessori pedagogic, a system of education for children that seeks to develop natural interests and activities rather than use formal teaching methods, which was developed by Maria Montessori. It emphasizes independence and it views children as naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a sufficiently supportive and well-prepared learning environment. Popular elements of Montessori pedagogic include mixed-age classrooms, student freedom (including their choices of activities), long periods of uninterrupted work time, specially trained teachers and a well-prepared learning environment. We had an opportunity to be in the classrooms and observe them while they were learning. It was a very positive experience for all of us.
After the visit to the classrooms, we had the presentation of innovative teaching methods supported by ICT connected with the project “Innovative pedagogy 1: 1’’. The aim of the project is to develop systemic mechanisms and pedagogical strategies of teaching and learning that ensure the more successful inclusion of students from vulnerable groups based on the general and specific competencies of the 21st century. It integrates innovative approaches for teaching and learning, supported by modern e-services and quality e-content and technologies of the future.
The last day of Job shadowing took place at Srednja elektro-računalniška šola (SERŠ) where Portuguese teachers were guided through their classrooms and the electronic equipment that they use during the classes. They also exchanged the experience with the teachers and students who attended the Erasmus+ mobilities in Braga, Portugal. They covered different topics related to hybrid teaching, teaching methods used by Slovenian professors, extracurricular activities, exchange of good practices examples etc.
On the last day before the teacher’s departure, we organized a cultural trip to Bled and Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia. There the teachers took a boat ride with Pletna, a traditional boat made by locals to Bled island. Before we continued our trip to Ljubljana we had to take them to Cafe Park where they tried the original Bled cream cake while overlooking the lake, island and the castle of Bled.
Once we arrived in Ljubljana we walked around the old city center where we visited all of the main attractions; Preseren square, Triple bridge, Dragon Bridge, Town Hall, Central market, University of Ljubljana and Ljubljana cathedral. We finished our trip with a nice stroll on the banks of the Ljubljanica river which flows right through the city center.
All in all, it was an amazing week full of learning experiences and an exchange of good practices, professional experiences and methodology used by them and Slovenian teachers combined with cultural trips where they got to know the Slovenian culture, local people and experience the Slovenian way of living. It was an amazing experience for everyone, we made life-lasting connections and shared good jokes. We can’t wait to visit all of them in Portugal!