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MenSI School Blog

Hungarian mentor schools meeting - From the perspective of a National Coordinator

After this long period of having no face-to-face meeting due to the COVID-restrictions, I can say that we were eager to meet the representatives of our mentor schools in person. Before the meeting we had online calls with the schools one by one to get to know them better, have more information about their work, their success and struggles so we could sense a little bit of the schools’ ‘atmosphere’ and I can say we couldn’t wait for the ‘real meeting’.

Finally, the day had arrived, it took place on 13 October 2021 in the building where we work in the heart of Budapest. We had nearly 20 participants including my colleagues and me.

We were trying to prepare a prorgam that balances two things: getting to know each other and giving information to the schools.

We asked the mentors to prepare a 15-minute presentation about their school (including the school profile - student number, place, number of staff; the best practices; number and use of digital tools) and two short 3-minute TeachMeet presentations in advance.

I created a 3-minute video and a handout about TeachMeet as a mean of information exchange to help the teachers prepare for their contribution.

We started the day –after drinking a good coffee– with a small welcome speech by the head of the department, then the official program started with the first 15-minute presentation given by one of the mentor schools. We decided to sit in a circle with the participants so we could see each other, besides we could easily transform groups for small group conversations.

During one school was presenting the other schools had to look at/observe the presentation and best practices as if they were the mentee schools. In addition, they also got a question to discuss in small groups after each school presentation. The short 15-minute small group discussions were a great opportunity for the participants to ask questions from each other about their schools and best practices and talk about educational topics.

Between introductions of the schools the following thought-provoking questions were asked:

  • How can we help schools to adopt best practices?
  • What type of digital tools can/ could support a whole school?
  • What responses/answers did the school provide to COVID-challenges?
  • What changes (best practice, digital tools etc.) were kept even after distance learning ended?

 

The second part started with a presentation of the MenSI project. First, we talked about the Future Classroom Lab and the Living Schools Lab projects, this was followed by the mentoring process overall and the tasks of the mentor schools.

The panel discussion was also about the mentoring process but it was more focused on the practice: how to make connections and how to work with the mentee schools. All schools had different ideas about how to do the process, but all agreed on one that they have to get to know them first to choose the best strategy.

After the panel discussion we started the TeachMeet. I think it was really informative for all participants. Not only the topics of the presentations were interesting (e.g. Quizlet, online and offline escape room, BOOKR Kids) but also the situation was unique, as they had to summarize a great tool in 3 minutes only. I was the ‘master of ceremonies’, I created a random list of the presentations with this application. I have to say I was quite strict about the time frames. We agreed on 3-minute presentations and my phone started to ring when the time was up. I suppose I wasn’t always popular with the ringing…  However, I like the format because it is fast-paced and diverse, and that’s what I wanted to show the teachers, too.

We had the following topics during TeachMeet:

  • BOOKR KIDS
  • Google Teaching Solutions
  • Padlet
  • Escape Room
  • Online Escape Room
  • OneNote
  • Quizlet
  • Quizizz

The meeting with the schools was closed with an adaptation practice. First, we discussed what kind of information we have to know if we want to adopt a best practice. Then we watched a video of a best practice where high school students organized playful learning activities about environmental consciousness for young children.

Each school had to create a scenario about how they could implement this practice in their institution. The schools did a great job! They were really creative. Since we have two high schools (meaning senior high school, age: 14-18) and two primary schools (meaning primary and junior high, age 6-14), they discussed how the scenarios could be implemented with children of different ages.

It was a great and meaningful day for all of us. We have diverse mentor schools, each facing different challenges e.g. social issues, students with special education needs, lack of digital tools, problems with internet access, drop-outs and every one of them is expert in their fields and really enthusiastic. We are looking forward to working with the schools and I’m sure that the next few months will be an exciting journey for all of us.

Author:
Boglárka Tóth, National Coordinator & FCL Ambassador, Educational Authority, Hungary

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