Szczekarków is a suburb of Lubartów, a small, nice town with many baroque monuments such as St Anna’s Basilica or the Sanguszko Palace.
Nowadays the village counts approximately 750 inhabitants. Fifty-seven students attend our school. They are divided into five mixed-level classes. There is also a preschool group with twenty-one children, aged 3 to 5. The school has eight classrooms equipped with interactive boards, projectors and screens. There is also a small library. Students also use the school facilities for sports: a gym, a football pitch and a playground. There are 18 teachers. Most of them have to work in different schools to work full-time jobs.
Edyta Borowicz-Czuchryta has been working as an English teacher for 20 years. Her adventure with eTwinning started in 2009. She has been an eTwinning Ambassador. Asked about the challenges of a school in a rural area she reported to us:
Everyone is aware that small schools are closing due to economic issues. It is sad because we live in times during which students are no longer the most important factor. The distance between students' houses and the school is always a problem which means children spending a lot of time out of home, commuting to school, even from an early age.
Moreover, it is very difficult to plan the school year and prepare a timetable that will accommodate both the students who come from various areas and the teachers who work in different schools.
Schools in rural areas because of their scarcity often have multi-level classes. Thanks to the multi-level class system our school can exist for our students. The teachers don’t feel alone as they can deploy the older students to help teach the younger students. The younger children can seek guidance from older students rather than from the teacher only. They learn to listen to each other carefully.
When assigned to a multi-level class the teacher should determine the needs of the students. Small group activities are one of the best methods to deal with a mixed-level class. The teacher can create activities focusing on communication to challenge the students to use the language and their knowledge and learn from each other. A teacher teaching in a multilevel class has to be flexible as s/he might need to modify their lesson plans quite often. A teacher who has an easy-going attitude will also encourage students to relax and enjoy the class.
One great advantage of a small rural school is that it can cooperate directly with the local community. A small school with a little bit of an effort can involve the parents in its life easily.
For example, In 2016, we took part in a global competition organized by the Italian Ministry of Education. Thanks to the cooperation with the local community, which supported the school, we came first out of several thousand schools from around the world. A year later, the school entered a competition to win a playground. We won thanks to the support of the local community. Half a year later our students were able to enjoy the wonderful playground next to the school.
A piece of advice that I follow every day is “It is not important what the school has, but what you can do with what the school offers.” When a teacher is inventive enough can do wonders.
The eTwinning programme has helped us combine the core curriculum with the interests of the students. It is a great promotion for the school in the local community, in the province, in the country, and in Europe. Thanks to various activities the school was awarded the title of “A School for a Medal” and “A School in the Cloud”. After one of the online meetings with peers, one student said: “Wow! This is amazing!!! It was a real English lesson, and English itself is a great communication tool, not just another boring subject at school.”
It’s a year now since the pandemic forced us to search for safe forms of education. We introduced Office 365 in our school a year ago.
Students also need creative activities to develop their passions and interests. Therefore, I organised “Poetry Evening” online on Teams. We took part in a daffodil campaign on the anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising. We implement eTwinning projects, which are a fantastic variety of our education through activities, cooperation and online meetings with peers. We have also been meeting with students taking up challenges in the Minecraft field. We have spent a few nights online building our school, a treehouse, Poland, or the Sanguszko Palace in Lubartów in the world of Minecraft. Education is the process of teaching-learning and even more...