Teachers, the largest and an immediate stakeholder group of practitioners in the formal education system, are indeed potentially key actors in any societal transformation process, for better or for worse. They are obliged to fulfil their job of delivering the service of “teaching” as drawn by the curriculum and associated administrative codes. Yet, “how” they teach is as critical – and, even more critical than – “what” they are supposed to teach. “How” they interact with pupils in the classroom, and with colleagues in the school environment, “how” they practically react/attend to conflicts in the classroom - and whether, or, how well they are equipped for facilitating/escorting resolution of such conflicts - actually demonstrates how they “coach” their students. And, demonstrates their capacity as nexus points in the web of relations that make up the population involved in education.
While the transformation of the curriculum (both in pedagogy and in content) stays a mid- to long-term strategic focus for intervention, it is possible to induce positive change through transforming teachers into actors for positive change, even in the given state of affairs/conditions. In case the teachers’ professional capacities are enriched to include democratic citizenship and conflict resolution skills and practices employable in doing their job, they will serve as role models and multipliers of a new ‘language’ of interaction, and the corresponding mindset, attitudes and practices, and coach behaviours promoting peace, confidence and reconciliation. The skills they can adopt professionally/personally can introduce a positive vision to children and youth, as a key for handling conflicts, through acknowledging them as actors themselves and engaging them in the process of learning by doing.
hCa will organise a one-week YavasGamats Summer School, as a “Training of Trainers” program of workshops/seminars for up to 36 teachers, practitioners of education, 18 each from Armenia and from Turkey. A group of around 12 project staff, lecturers/trainers, workshop moderators & group facilitators from Turkey & Armenia will contribute to the program. The school will take place in the summer of 2016, in Turkey. Participants will be identified through an open call process, from among applicants, young teachers (in practice up to five years) employed in elementary/secondary education, preferably public schools. The methodology of the activity is structured around a) building a friendly, productive environment among participants; b) widening perspectives on established, embedded mindsets, c) promoting interactive learning models & collaboration to conduct group work and produce concrete outputs, which will help build mutual trust; and d) improving professional and personal communication skills to nurture mutual understanding and confidence. The content of the program is designed to build participants' skills as “trainers”, equipping them not only to deliver, transmit these skills to their pupils but also to influence and/or train others in future, similar activities to be organized by the organizers or by other organizations.
In parallel fashion to the preparations for the program, a minimum of 4 project/hCa staff will attend a crash course of “training of trainers” on affective communication skills of (i) active listening, (ii) using the “I” language, as simple/sincere expressions of interest, and on, (iii) conflict-resolution coaching. These trainers will acquire knowledge to deliver this training at the Summer School and also, will develop learning modules on the three basic components.
An E-Learning Programme will be developed and launched on the website by hCa for online, distance training for teachers, teacher candidates in particular - as well as for researcher/scholars, journalists/correspondents, CSO members, etc. eventually - from across Armenia and Turkey.
The program content will be based on the material produced in the phase up to the Summer School, and, finalized upon feedback and inputs from the participants & contributors. The initial three learning modules will be on affective communication & conflict resolution skills for teachers. The content developed and put to practice during the YavasGamats Summer Schools (as a Beta version) will be finalized in the months following the summer school program. The E-Learning Facility (Alpha version) will provide content in Turkish & English gradually, with the completions of translations. The program will eventually be developed further with additional training modules. Experts will be contracted for content development and for technical configuration of the facility. The facility will be accessible through the project website and ATNP's website. ATNP members will be informed of re-current programmes that will open up on-line courses in the future.
Ms. Arpine Aleksanyan and Ms. Sona Baloyan from Yerevan, from “Matenadaran” Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, were supported with the travel grant to visit Istanbul, Turkey for meetings with the Armenian Patriarchate, Armenian high schools, foundations and publishing houses to discuss possibilities of further collaboration on preserving the Armenian culture.