From individuals to schools
The concept of recognition for work done within eTwinning has been in existence since its start in 2005 with Quality Labels available to teachers for their projects, both at national and European level. Now we have moved from the recognition of individuals to the recognition of the team through the whole school approach, first spoken about in 2006.
This evolution was also grounded on the results of the eTwinning Report 2015 - a monitoring exercise on the impact of eTwinning on teachers’ practice, skills and professional development opportunities. One of its key findings was that teachers working in innovative schools “consistently report eTwinning to have had more of a positive impact on various aspects at school level than teachers working in non-innovative schools.”
Attaining the eTwinning School Label means embarking on a developmental journey that all schools can aspire to. Getting the Label is not a competition, but rather the start of a process: eTwinning Schools are not “winners” but champions who become role models for other schools involved in eTwinning.
eTwinning Schools are expected to be leaders in the eTwinning world. Their role is to inspire and guide other schools to reach the same level. This may be achieved by opening doors and sharing methods, ideas and practice. Typically, eTwinning Schools liaise with their local education authorities and propose a list of activities that they can share with other schools in their area: for example, open days to make their expertise available for staff in other schools or mentoring schemes for other schools who are aspiring to be an eTwinning School. And many more.
eTwinning Schools as models
eTwinning Schools become ambassadors for other schools in their area, both those involved in eTwinning and those who are not.
For instance, Şcoala Gimnazială nr. 17 in Botoșani, Romania is an eTwinning School that serves as a learning hub for other schools in the county. The school director and the eTwinning teachers are supported by the county’s inspectorate that recognises the expertise the school can offer to diffuse good teaching and learning practices in the region.
One teacher from Şcoala Gimnazială nr. 17 takes part in the advisory board of the county for European cooperation - a team of teachers that organises peer learning sessions and training where teachers can share their challenges and get hands on tools and ideas to solve the problems they face. Other teachers in the same school are part of advisory boards for their school subjects.
Thanks to the support of the school management, the eTwinning teachers who are on the boards have allocated time to lead workshops and training to other schools on various topics. For instance: making students agents of change and lead their learning, embedding eTwinning in the curricula, using eTwinning with Project Based Learning, etc.
Also, as a model for other schools, Şcoala Gimnazială nr. 17 provides opportunities for their eTwinning teachers to share their practices. The school hosts regional teachers’ meetings and peer learning sessions in which students also have an opportunity to present their projects and at the same time practice their presentation and public speaking skills. The learning journey is for both the hosting and the learning school, as Loredana Popa, an eTwinning teacher in the school explains: “We think we can share from our experience and challenges and address the issues most schools run into, alongside our solutions and ideas”.
The continuous efforts of the school inspector, director and teachers have concrete results on the ground: “The fact that Botoșani county has four eTwinning Schools means our continuous efforts to involve more schools in eTwinning and help them bring innovation is doing some good” says Loredana.
eTwinning Schools, with the support of their management, can serve as knowledge hubs and share their valuable experience with other schools. eTwinning Schools gain visibility and most importantly, engage students and teachers in a continuous learning and development process where they are leading the change they want to see in their learning and teaching.