Project: The teaching revolution under way at seven Czech schools

More than 400 teachers and some 6,000 students are involved in the Helping Schools Succeed project, which pursues the aim of putting in place conditions for teachers that will help them develop every child in the classroom. The project is being carried out under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic, and it is financially sponsored by The Kellner Family Foundation.

The project was launched at the first two schools in 2010, and another five schools have joined to date. By 2020, one model educational institution is to exist in every Region of the Czech Republic.

Teachers will have opportunities to attend training courses, participate in excursions, and visit classes, or take advantage of support services offered by instructional coaches, who work three days a week at every school. “I wanted to make some progress, develop my teaching practice. At all times a specialist was nearby, and provided me with feedback. He told me when the approach I had selected was correct, or, on the contrary, pointed to areas in which I could improve or go for an approach that was new for me,” Jitka Palanová, a math teacher at the Zdice Elementary School, explains.

The basic idea of the whole project is to motivate students to enjoy learning. This is one of the reasons why at model schools, teachers have opportunities to try out teaching in tandem with a teaching assistant or to gradually start co-teaching with a colleague, thanks to which they then have more time for the individual needs of their charges. They can also draw inspiration from good examples of teaching at Czech schools, which are constantly updated on the project’s YouTube channel, and they can also share their experience with colleagues from other schools. “More and more, teachers have begun visiting each other’s classes to draw inspiration. Together, they analyze the lesson and discuss what works for each of them. New methods and interesting suggestions are thus spreading much faster,” says an experienced teacher.

Thanks to the project, she has also become aware of Professor Hejný’s math teaching method, which is based on a sophisticated and well-tried system for actively involving all students in solving mathematical problems without depriving them of the joy of discovery. In other words, students explore and are not afraid to make mistakes. “I would describe my first encounter with Hejný’s approach as a geyser gushing into my life’s work. I had always felt that something was missing in math. It irritated me when children had no logical thinking, perseverance to solve math problems, or the ability to suggest more than one solution, and so I was overjoyed to see that this method really helps develop everything,” adds Mrs. Palanová.

The support also includes subsidies in kind and in cash, either in the form of modern teaching aids, or financial contributions to school psychologists. One of the project’s priorities is developing various forms of parents-school cooperation. “Helping Schools Succeed is an inspiring example of comprehensive support for specific schools. There are many enthusiastic and motivated teachers all over the Czech Republic, who are willing to work hard on their own improvement,” claims Tomáš Zatloukal, Chief School Inspector.

Author | red

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