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ASSIST / Mobilization of community towards secure school
   

Project Ref.No. 226580-CP-1-2005-1-LT-COMENIUS-C21

Project duration: 2005-2008

Project supported by:
European Commission

Project coordinator:
Jaunimo karjeros centras (Youth Career and Advising Center), Lithuania

Project partners:
NGO Miks ja Millepärast (A Why`n`Not Education), Estonia
Euroform RFS, Italy
Siuolaikiniu didaktiku centras (Modern Didactics Center), Lithuania
A. Θ. ΚΟΛΥΒΑ & ΣΙΑ O.E. (European Cultural Interactions co), Greece
Andragoški Zavod Maribor - Ljudska Univerza (Maribor Adult Education Centre), Slovenia
Universitetet I Stavanger (University of Stavanger), Norway


Project background
The challenges faced by teachers who work with students with behavioral and emotional disturbances are enormous. Teachers need a partnership with parents, other students, and community agencies in order to succeed with these students. This project focuses on the interdependent relations among these groups. The education principle is to help every student adjust normally to the school environment and to succeed in life. This can only be accomplished if the school, community and parents work together.
Does the school carry this mission today? Does it address the increasing societal expectations of education in a complex and modernizing society? We think not. The students in the schools in countries that joined in the partnership have a similar range of problems. They can be grouped into 3 main problematic areas – attentional or academic, behavioural and emotional disturbances. These problems occur as a result of child abuse and neglect, crime, health (HIV/AIDS/ drugs/ sexual problems/teenage pregnancy), violence in school, in street and at home, homelessness and socio-economic disadvantages, unemployment and an increasing immigrant population.
Students with these problems often become a burden to society. They cause truancy, show poor achievement levels, have absence of motivation and vocational/ professional orientation, have anxiety and dependence, and demonstrate school and family disruption and interpersonal conflicts. The school alone is incapable of addressing this broader spectrum of students’ needs. Co-operation among different players inside the school is insufficient. At present, the community is not involved. The communication between different sectors of the community is weak. Parents must also be involved. They need to reinforce the concepts that the school and community are developing. In addition, the peers in the school are not being trained so that they can help the other students. This is a loss of manpower. Students can relate to their peers in different ways than teachers or community leaders can. It is important to utilize all institutions.

Project aims
  • To encourage teachers to offer students at risk the opportunities to learn how to manage their own actions and become more self-reliant.
  • To help students become healthy citizens, both in the classroom and in society.
  • To encourage student peer participation in behaviour change, self-management, correctional counselling and school governance.
  • To develop school and community partnerships.
Project objectives
  • To develop in-service training courses that strengthens the role of the teacher as the facilitator and train teachers, community agency personnel, parents and students to assist in the social and emotional well-being of students at risk. 
  • To create a strategy for a safe and secure school environment.
  • To assist community agencies in the cooperative role of sharing responsibility with schools.
  • To train parents in skills so that they can work with their own children more effectively.
  • To provide tailored attractive programmes that meet young people’s individual needs and their aspirations. 
Project target groups and participants

Teachers and other school professionals in 18 partner countries schools. The teachers were trained how to deal with the problems, occurred in schools: how to identify, asses who needs the help, how to look for help, how to cooperate with other community members, how to develop effective school programmes and etc. Teachers and other school professionals (psychologists, social educators, special needs educators) have work in close cooperation with other project groups.

Peers of students (about 42-46) were trained to work effectively with other peers that need help. They have been taught peer counselling and negotiation skills, conflict management and other social skills.

Parents (about 200) were taught to identify and recognise their child’s problems, to be able to find appropriate help and consultancies, legal advices, to be able to talk openly about the issues. They have learn negotiation skills so that they can work more effectively with their children, to get basic knowledge about Play Therapy.

Community service agencies from governmental, voluntary and business sector (about 16) have work in cooperation with other groups in order to collaborate for solving occurred problems. They delegated practically applicable counselling skills and knowledge to teachers, students and parents. They have direct access to students at risk through their peer counselling programmes. They will be in charge of developing and promoting sharing of resources, offering effective negotiation and communication skills to volunteers in the field and services of their agencies personnel to help teachers and parents to overcome resistance and barriers related to drug and sex education and other relevant problems.

Indirectly have been targeted other groups of teachers, students and parents through project dissemination activities. 


Project activities

Situation analyses and needs assessment. In country preparation for joint project strategy and activities. 2005 November - 2006 March.
Partners collect information and best samples from their countries on school academic and social behavior management strategies. During the first partner meeting project coordinator and content developers share gathered information, exchange their ideas, compare needs and state general findings on joined project strategy. 


Building up social partnerships and development of in-service teacher training course framework. 2006 March - July.
Project managers and consultants paid study visits to partner schools. Together with social partner teams and school communities they discussed training course methodologies. Course developers analyzed examples of various training courses and developed the draft of the framework, that will be reviewed by partners and evaluate by external experts.

Development of multidisciplinary training course, reference materials and ICT tools. 2006 July - 2007 January.
Partners select in-country course developers from various institutions and of various backgrounds. Multidisciplinary teams developed mini training courses and course materials for every specific target group. Prepared materials were translated into the project language (En). ICT specialists opened e-communication forum – Project Management System and e-learning Management System.

Workshops in schools. 2007 February - May.
Course development teams presented prepared mini course modules to partner schools and prepared detailed plans for testing of the course module in schools. School teachers tested and evaluated mini courses. Teams revised and improved the courses according to the evaluation results. Coordinator collected and analysed all tested and evaluated course materials from partner countries. Project developers compiled one training course module putting together mini courses on different specific issues for all target groups.

Evaluation and preparation of final version of the course and training materials.
2007 May - December.
Internal experts in partner countries and external experts from USA and Lithuania evaluated the course and present recommendations for improvement. Project developers analyzed evaluators’ recommendations, amended the course and prepared its final version. Coordinators collected translated materials into the project language from all partners. Project developers prepared a detailed content outline of the course, assessed special resources and made references useful to all partners. Partners consulted local experts and prepared country reference guides.
Coordinators edited the final English version of the course and all the materials and sent out to every partner. Partners took responsibility of translation into their national languages and editing of the materials.

International trainings of trainers (ToT). Creation of joint training programme.
2007 December - 2008 January.
Each country selected 2 trainers for the pilot in-service training. Selected trainers prepared for a training on a specific issue. Each country trainer delivered a mini training to all partners. All partners worked as trainers and facilitators during the ToT. Trainers exchanged their knowledge on the content of the course and training skills. Partners and project developers selected best trainers and form international training teams. Project developers and trainers drawed final content outline for the unique training course module. Coordinators and experts put all specific topics together into one course.

Publishing of training materials. Video production. 2008 January - May.
Coordinators published in the English and Lithuanian all project materials - Course Guide, Module Handbook with handouts for students, Peer Counseling Guidebook, Reference Guides. Partners took all responsibilities and necessary arrangements for preparation of CD with all materials into national languages (LT, IT, GR, SI, EE). Partners also were responsible for Reference Guides as these guides provide mainly national references. 

Training of Teachers-Multipliers. 2008 May - August.
Partners selected trainees – future trainers-multipliers from local schools and other institutions all over the country. Pilot trainers delivered 4 days training courses in national languages to local trainees – future trainers. After the training the trainees have to use training methods and materials in school practical work. They prepared written assignments for the assessments. Local trainers, coordinators and experts provided consultations and assistance during their practical work. 

Dissemination of project products and results. 2008 August - October.
During the final partners meeting in Lithuania partners and experts evaluated project and it’s results, discussed dissemination and further project continuation issues. Coordinators prepared dissemination plans. Project coordinator organized the final conference in Lithuania. Developers presented all project products to conference participants. All pilot schools, experts and trainers from each participating country took interactive part in the conference via Internet. 

 
Project products

1. The in-service teacher training course for teachers and community agency personnel.
The project created an in-service training course module focusing the following: an individual school child, a student in a classroom, peers, parents, the multidisciplinary team, school itself as an organization, and the community with its personal and organizational members. The course provides strategies and techniques to analyze student problems and to support different approaches to modify behaviour.

2. Materials for in-service trainings:
Course guide gives an overview of the structure and content of the in-service training course. This course guide will be used by teachers and community agency personnel.
A Guide on play therapy gives an overview of the techniques used in play therapy and its uses for teachers and community agency personnel.
Module handbook contains learning materials and include information, methodology and exercises covered in training. The handbook is compiled of several parts linked to specific problematic issues piloted in partner schools and presentation of innovative methodological approaches. This module handbook will be used by teachers.
A set for students – a set of additional materials/worksheets/interactive ICT games for students on a range of related topics, which will support teachers’ practical work. These handouts will be used by peer counsellors.
Video on negotiation skill training for practical assistance in teaching.
Peer counselling manual – a portfolio of peer counselling philosophy, ethical issues and skills. This manual provides specific, practical, and easily grasped materials for training peer counsellors in a variety of applications, including crisis counselling, academic and residential advising, career planning, and general psychological support. This manual will be used by peer counsellors and teachers teaching peer counselling.
Reference guide information on useful agencies, along with a range of relevant legislation. The guide is published only in electronic version, what is simplifying updating of the information. This guide will be used by teachers, community agencies, and parents.
Parent handbook – a set of handouts for parents. This includes information on agencies, school information, and a range of relevant tips for parents to use with their children.

 

3. Web portal provides relevant information about country project development stages, results and products, will serve as communication platform for project partners, will have discussion rooms for teachers/counsellors and interactive feedback for portal visitors. Miksike Learning Folders (LeFo) platform will be used for ASSIST project.
Web portal consists of 2 parts:
Project management system, which consist of tools enabling ASSIST consortium to work effectively together and share information (closed forum, open forum, intranet for draft documents, folder for public documents).
Learning Management System: a) tools for creating the content. Partners from different countries work with content development. Tools are provided on LeFo server, which allows different users work with same documents and share draft works with colleagues, b) tools for working with content and adding value to the ASSIST content.
ASSIST learning materials are published in LeFo. There will no fee of any kind to access these materials. LeFo will enable teachers to create online tests, different additional interactive exercises to illustrate the course. ASSIST copyright policy allows teachers to edit and modify the ASSIST content the way teachers in each particular situation need most. That way ASSIST will flexibly adjust its content to different needs.
 
Project results
The project encouraged teachers (and any other school professionals), student peers within the school, community agencies (child protection institutions, local authorities, social services and legal institutions) and parents to work together so that every student succeeds both in the school environment and in life outside the classroom. Together all four groups designed activities that develop links among them. Through the collective effort, students at risk will improve their academic and social behaviour. Ultimately the achievement level of the students will increase. Such partnership will help teachers to overcome their narrow focus on student’s problems. It will provide support teams that will better formulate strategies and plan actions to implement changes. Finally it will add an innovative aspect to many community agencies, strengthening their position in their community.

Partners meeting in Maribor, Slovenia on 7-9 May 2007

Partners meeting in Athens, Greece on 1-3 July 2006
 

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