Multicultural, multilingual, multidisciplinary, all are the ingredients for a wonderful teaching and learning experience by the ASB Non Formal Education team in Epirus – with the support of IOM – and their younger and elder students.
In practice, how does one teach Greek and English to mixed classes and keep one’s younger and older students focused?
On a rainy and windy February morning, all children remembered that today is Giorgos’ class. “Today I am teaching mathematics he says, because I want my pupils to be able to do additions and subtractions, but believe me, I teach Greek!”. In the meantime he distributes material, an A4 with all sorts of numbers ranging between one and a hundred.
The children are silent, watching the teacher; he could be an elder brother. He writes two numbers on the whiteboard, 89 and then 20. “Which number is bigger”? he asks in Greek. Some juniors jump up, others remain silent but all try to understand the exercise. Giorgos hovers between the desks, asks them to circle the biggest number then to tick the smallest one. And then a kind of bingo game develops. He pays attention to all the children who huddle together in small teams and do peer work. They concentrate and enjoy.
Giorgos Karakostas explains: “Non-formal education in the refugee/migrant framework is a continuous process, through which I have developed my skills and extended my experience in terms of a multicultural approach, as well as child protection policies”.
He adds that “reliability and trust among students and teachers are very important values for me. I developed them gradually by forging the main school rules through respect, cooperation and healthy communication. Likewise, I try to communicate the sense of obligation in order to have rewards.”
Giorgos highlights that “interaction between the teacher and the students is of major importance in a non-formal multicultural classroom; feedback affects my motivation, since when I see that knowledge is accessible and comprehensible to my students, for example correct homework or learning new vocabulary, I feel very motivated to develop alternative and more effective ways of learning, by understanding their needs.”
He tells us that he always tries to “apply interdisciplinary projects to the learning procedure, such as geography, history, arts, painting etc. and any other activities that may develop student’s psycho-social competences and skills. In particular, this month I have been teaching math lessons, since it is an attractive way of enriching the students’ vocabulary and provides an international communication code.”
Meanwhile English teacher Mara, is busy on her own project which almost covers a whole week.
“It is a gradual process”, she says, “I have been doing a little warm-up on gender issues and this led me to the main theme: Women and girls in science”.
In the first part of the project a conversation was held on gender stereotypes, and two classroom activities adapted from the “Robert Gordon University Challenging Gender Stereotypes” lesson plan were implemented.
The first classroom set activity entitled “Is it a girl thing or a boy thing?” challenged the students to decide whether a number of vocations or statuses are exclusively assigned as masculine or feminine.
In the second part, thirteen of the most inspirational women in the Sciences and Arts were introduced to the students. Following the short introduction they were assigned to search/study some information about the famous women and later to present each of them to the rest of the group.
A group discussion about their stories and impact was held afterwards with the students who highlighted their favorite role models and their own aspirations in science and arts.
“I want to become a doctor, and me a dentist” said Nadima and Tahera. A third girl was interested in astrophysics.
The sky is no limit anymore!