Erasmus blogs, Projects

Leadership and Management in Schools – Valencia Experience

The Teacher Academy training course 'Leadership and Management in Schools' held in Valencia in October 2022 was intended for members of educational establishments who wish to further their management skills and serve as leaders to their schools to the best of their ability.

The training participants were school principals and vice-principals, head teachers, and administrative staff from different European countries who have multiple years of experience behind them. Their passion and pride in being part of educational establishments that help elevate personal and social life was prominent in everyone.

There was a sense of togetherness bound by the love of our job, but also a sincere curiosity for others' experiences and feedback, as everyone there had surprisingly different school organisation, approaches, and roles inside the school system.

This diversity made the program more enjoyable, as it proved the point that there is no one (perfect) way of managing a school. Flexibility, adaptability, creativity, and compassion for the needs of others are all crucial skills for a good manager. It isn't always just about logic and chasing goals.

We were also lucky enough to have a representative of the praised Finnish school system among us, whose take on student integration and the challenges coming from the current political events were highly educational and thought-provoking.

Setting goals and overcoming differences 

The program touched upon the methodologies of setting goals and their completion. A well throughout, measurable, and relevant goal is half the success. We were given tools, e.g. Trello, that are a practical representation of the lessons learned.

The majority of the material was focused on working with people, understanding the differences in personality, character, and the general sense of work dynamics and culture. We discussed possible managing styles and their perceived outcomes. Every new topic fell back on introspection and defining our identity as a leader now and the ideal we strive for.

Taking the time to get to know your team properly and being aware of their weaknesses and strengths, establishing quality, open communication lines helps tremendously in proficient work assignment and execution. To achieve that, we discussed possible meeting tactics, negotiation, and conflict resolution principles. One interesting and fun activity was taking the 16 personality test, which led to some surprising results.

The week-long training on leadership and management in schools gave us a lot to think about and further explore in the future. The culturally rich, welcoming, and architecturally breathtaking city of Valencia made the whole experience that more enjoyable.

Mobility of course participant is enabled within the project "Step up", code number: 2021-1-HR01-KA122-ADU-000018329. 

The project is funded by the European Union. 

Erasmus +: Enriching lives, opening minds.

Monija Škriljevečki

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Erasmus blogs, Projects

Intergenerational learning and study trip to Kranj

In partnership with the European Senior Exchange project, we took part in a study visit to Kranj with our students from the 24th to the 28th of October.

The meeting was planned for socializing and learning, as well as the exchange of experiences of senior citizens who had the opportunity to participate in several activities.

The meeting was attended by over 30 elderly people from partner organizations of the Initiative, AGORA' - Laboratorio Terza EtàProtagonistaonlus, CDU Ljubljana and Human University Kranj, as well as the managers of the HIHTAST project.

When we arrived on Monday, we presented our organization and programs to our partners, and after the lunch break, socializing continued outdoors through a guided tour given by one of the participants of the People's University of Kranj. As a small town, Kranj offers a lot to its residents, and it is known as the most respected high school in all of Slovenia. Furthermore, there are gourmet delicacies, especially for meat lovers – most notably Carniola sausage and beer. One of Slovenia's most famous poets comes from Kranj, after whom the main square in Ljubljana is named; France Prešeren. The cultural and economic wealth of Kranj comes from the past when Kranj was one of the main industrial cities in Yugoslavia. The city centre is located in the old part, which still has ramparts and underground tunnels.

After a good hike and a very interesting review of history, we sat down to hot tea and rested before going to bed.

Human University of Kranj under the slogan "Learning for a better life" emphasizes intergenerational learning, encouraging cooperation and transferring knowledge and experience from older generations to younger ones, and vice versa. For the purpose of these activities, they also opened LUK - an intergenerational centre where all generations are welcome. The purpose of LUK is to bridge the lack of time and space for intergenerational learning, which used to happen spontaneously, but is today hindered by the modern way of life. On Thursday, we had the opportunity to see what LUK looks like and what activities can take place there. Among other things, there is a large kitchen intended for the transfer of culinary skills from generation to generation.

In order to enjoy a real Slovenian dinner, we all first put on our aprons and got our assignments. The preparation of food started with the collective cleaning of mud, while others started kneading the bread cake. The final result was a traditional soup with pumpkin and Carnivoran bread.

Throughout the dinner, socializing and singing, we were presented with traditional customs, costumes and songs from Kranj, and a special part of the evening was marked by an emotional speech by a participant from Belgium who emphasized the importance of European values, peace, and cooperation, especially in these areas.

On the last day, we finished with the evaluation and the final joint discussion of all participants.

A special thank you to Sjajna and Vesna, who were with us as the representatives of our students on this wonderful trip, and to teacher Domagoj, who always brightens up every gathering and trip with his energy!

See you again soon!

Jelena Posavec Smilović

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First partner meeting as part of the project “Digital Integration for Equality“

The starting point of our role in this project is that if we have knowledge and skills that can assist anyone – we are there to help. With this idea in mind we went from a thought, to writing a project, and in the end, we were incredibly lucky to get this project. We can't wait to tackle this project and develop a new and innovative digital learning platform!

We have created and written the project “Digital Integration for Equality“ which arose from our wish to provide digital education to those of lower socio-economic status – migrants and Romani people.

With this project, we aim to support lifelong learning for adults with poor access to education. We held our first online meeting with partners from Slovenia, Germany and Belgium, in which we coordinated and set the schedule for the project's activities.

We are very happy to be cooperating with international organisations that are leaders in adult education.

Ljudska univerza Lendava (Slovenia) is an adult learning centre, founded in 1959, which has evolved from a regular school into a modern centre for lifelong education. It has become one of the leading institutions for adult education in Slovenia.

Institut für Roma und Minderheiten (Germany) is a leading Romani organisation in Europe, whose employees have been certified trainers since 2008 thanks to the programme Open Society Foundation. They implement courses with the aim of increasing employability, including promoting social entrepreneurship in vulnerable groups.

Welcome Home International (Belgium) is an NGO founded with the aim of finding innovative and advanced methods for stronger socio-economic integration of refugees in Belgium.

We will publish all activities regularly on our website.

✔This programme is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme. Erasmus+ changing lives, opening minds 🇪🇺

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Projects, Uncategorized

We are never too old to start learning

Learning new things keeps our brains sharp. Keeping curious, active and thirsty for knowledge are traits we should all cultivate, and this is most important for senior citizens. Not only does it keep our brains alert, but we can meet new people through education, make new social contacts, and improve our overall psychosocial and emotional health. Education opens the door to new friendships, and travel gives us a new outlook on life.

That is exactly what happened at our school in Zagreb between the 11th and 15th of March when we organised a partnership meeting and training session as part of the European Senior Exchange project.

The aim of the training workshop was to introduce senior citizens to the Callan Method and improve their English language knowledge.

Partner organisations CDU Ljubljana and LudskaUniverza Kranja also attended, as well as the project holder, HIHTAST.

A total of 15 people participated in the workshop.

The first day was reserved for introductions. Our organisation introduced the Callan Method, as well as the whole array of work our organisation is involved in.

After getting familiar with the Callan Method, the participants were tested to determine their level of English knowledge and subsequently divided into groups, so that they were ready to learn English for 5 days.

Working with senior citizens is a pleasure on so many levels. The elderly are aware of their abilities and have experience with lifelong learning, which they can easily apply to language learning. The Callan Method itself enables learning to be easier, faster and, most importantly, focused on speaking – allowing students to communicate in English as easily and quickly as possible.

On Day One, we had already divided the participants into two groups – an advanced group and an advanced beginners group. As is the case with the Callan Method, teachers from various English-speaking countries took turns teaching their lessons. Participants were able to get to know teachers from Canada, South Africa and the UK. The Belgian participants were amazed that they could speak Dutch with our South African teacher J

Besides the Callan Method course, participants had a chance to learn digital skills, and they created their own collage using the and Snapseed apps.

To provide our participants with a cultural experience, we prepared a Callan Method course for them in the Croatian language, as well as a pop quiz about Croatian culture.

Our teacher, Tamara, prepared a digital 'scavengehunt' for them, which lead the participants on an exploration of Zagreb using the Actionbound app. To participate in the digital tour, participants had to learn how to use the app with a QR codescanner, as well as the app itself. On top of that, participants had the task of discovering the wonders of Zagreb within a set time, competing to see who could solve the puzzles first.

We concluded the day with a cultural dinner at Medvedgrad Pub, where everyone had the opportunity to try traditional specialties and local beer.

On the last two days, we held our 'Talk Like A Native' workshop, and continued with leaning English.

On our last day, we enjoyed some Belgian chocolate and coffee, and had the evaluation.

In conclusion, we provided the senior citizens with a lifelong learning experience we will all cherish and remember!

Thanks to everyone for a wonderful week of learning and socialising!

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Croatian Language Courses for refugees from Ukraine

As the name of our organization says - we have taken the Initiative!

In order not to remain a passive observer and considering language integration as one of the key steps towards social integration, we launched Croatian language courses for refugees.

The initiative came in response to inquiries about the course of Croatian refugees from many refugees from Ukraine, but also from other NGOs working with refugees. Although the course is currently attended only by refugees from Ukraine, it is open to all third-country nationals who can to register at:

We are proud that our volunteers have been working with two groups of refugees for the second week in a row, who found themselves in an unenviable situation in Croatia. With our mission of including vulnerable groups in non-formal education, we are happy to have the opportunity to help with this kind of support in integration.

Croatian as a second language courses are held twice a week, and classes are currently taught by four volunteers, but we are happy that applications for volunteering are still arriving. This is showing us that there is empathy everywhere we look, i.e. that citizens are willing to volunteer and set aside time for those who are in dire need of help at this time. Our teacher volunteers are trained in the Callan method.

They are native Croatian speakers using only their native language in teaching. This method, along with the Croatian  curriculum, facilitates teaching of groups in which participants do not speak the same common language, which makes learning the target language (in this case Croatian) faster and more efficient. Since we wanted to provide this opportunity to refugees from all areas of the Republic of Croatia, we organized our classes in an online format.

For several years now, the initiative has been actively involved in the integration of refugees from the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and now Ukraine. We hope that in the future we will continue our work in the direction of successful social integration of all those who, regardless of which country they come from, find their way in our local community.

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Gamification and game based learning- How to get lost in Italy!

Now February tends to be one of those months that never ends. Christmas is a vague memory and spring seems like it will never arrive- what better way to put a shine on this dull month than an immersive week playing games, solving riddles and exploring the riveting world of game based learning and gamification in the beautiful, ancient city of Bologna.
I arrived on the evening of the 5th after a slight mishap which saw me re-routed through Milan (tough life! :)) The sun was beginning to set and as I disembarked the train, the smells of charcuterie and fresh focaccia hit me in the food capital of Italy. Dinner was the first port of call, after which it was time to grab my first sleep in Italy and prepare myself for an exciting week.
The first day started with an ice-breaking exercise, my new colleagues and I had to write three facts and one lie about ourselves and then as we made our introductions, we had to guess one another’s lies- this set the mood for the entire week. This was followed by a tour of Bologna and a fantastic dinner. The next day the “serious” work started, Sara our trainer explained how things were going to work, the week was organized into a big game, first we had to create our player “avatars”, and then as we were separated into our respective teams the game began. Time for level 1!

We were first introduced to the differences between Gamification and Game based learning (GBL).
To keep it brief, introducing gamification into the classroom meant using techniques such as; timed challenges, point earning tasks, and other “game inspired” motivational techniques to engage students. On the other hand,” GBL” is the use of actual games in the class to promote the same goals, for example “matching crosswords”. We also delved into the pedagogical value of playing, how it promotes the acquisition of soft skills and stimulates problem solving, encourages experiential learning and increases the motivation of students.

Of course, behind all of the fun and games there exists theory, do students benefit from this type of learning? Can gamification and GBL really influence the classroom experience positively? Here we looked at the “Octalys method”, a study that looked at the motivations of the different types of players, their core drives and some real life examples. Level 2!

Level two delved into the extrinsic motivators and intrinsic motivators, how we could use “white hat” and “black hat” motivators to immerse students in their tasks, and encourage them to move through the game and accomplish their goals.

Games such as “Lupus in Tabula” were used to highlight these types of players, goals and motivations.

Level 3 started with an introduction to more traditional games and web-games that could be used in the class. From here, it was time to start the “10 quest challenge”- we were separated into teams, and each team was given the same set of “quests” to complete i.e. singing a song for 3 minutes, memorizing the core motivators etc. The benefits of this game were:

  • To enhances group atmosphere and energy
  • To create choice-based lessons and learning pathways that are both personalized and differentiated
  • To break down topics/assignments into a menu of choices, mission-sty
  • To give learners a sense of agency or autonomy!
  • To provide a simple way to gamify learning

In level three we looked at, and played many games “Battleship”, “Omars game”. These games are intrinsically connected with enhancing creativity and imagination, promoting positive atmosphere and energy and providing multiple and inclusive ways of expression.

Now for the last level. Level 4!

  • Using game-based mechanics to engage learners and motivate to act and learn outdoor
  • Learn to create online Scavenger Hunts to be performed indoor or outdoor
  • Learn to create Digital Escape Room style experiences

This was by far the highlight of the week, Sara created an unbelievably fun and interesting outdoor treasure hunt of Bologna. She imparted her knowledge and taught us how to use various applications to create these interactive activities ourselves. The main goal of this type of activity is getting students to apply acquired knowledge to real life, and at the same time, increase focus, and create a positive and fun atmosphere. During the game, we were able to consider the different motivation factors that were introduced to this activity, and see how it pushed us to achieve the overall outcome. Winning!

As we moved through the “levels”, we learnt more and more about how we can introduce these methods into our respective classrooms, and how each game can be adapted to fit the needs of our students. I was particularly interested in the online quiz making tools, the “actionbound” treasure hunt and the google sheets “escape room” activities.

Now I know this all seems like “lots of work and no play” but aside from the fantastic, interesting educational adventures we had with Sara, another person deserves a special mention- Alona. Alona facilitated our city tours, helped drive the dynamic of the group in the classroom and out of the classroom and overall made the trip extra special for all of us.

A massive thank you to Inicijativa for organizing this trip, to Sara for creating and leading an unforgettable course, to Alona for guiding us from one beautiful, interesting site to another, to the wonderful staff of Camplus who made us feel welcome in comfortable surroundings, but most of all to the colleagues I met.

Manuel and Juan- the Spanish “cheers” will never be forgotten, Gruia- you exuded positivity all week and helped cohere the group with your good humour, Alexandra- a real tem player, Cristina and Andreea- the good witches, and Edyta, Paulina, Aneta and Gabriela- you all imparted your own special touch to the week.

I look forward to using these new acquired skills to help create fun and interesting activities that engage our students in Inicijativa and promote inclusive learning. Fun times ahead.

Mobility of course participant is enabled within the project "Step up", code number: 2021-1-HR01-KA122-ADU-000018329. The project is funded by the European Union. Erasmus +: Enriching lives, opening minds.

Stephen Breslin

Step Up – KA 1 Erasmus+ projekt
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Knowledge transfer and workshops – part of the ‘Take Initiative’ and ‘Step Up’ projects

Our teachers – Adam, Maria and Tamara – participated in mobility activities through a course held in Bologna as part of the projects 'Take Initiative' and 'Step Up'. The projects were financed by the Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes through the Erasmus+ Programme.
Each teacher attended one of the courses, and through an array of interesting and interactive activities, they shared the experience and knowledge they had gained with our other teachers from Zagreb in in-house dissemination workshops held at Initiative on the 17th of December, 2021.

In a workshop focused on tools for encouraging creativity and critical thinking, the staff at Initiative actively participated in solving creative tasks presented by our teacher, Maria. The activities included drawing, interpreting illustrations with the aim of reflecting emotions, as well as tasks encouraging critical thinking. Maria transferred the following to our educators:

  • knowledge and tools for developing creativity
  • experience and techniques for encouraging critical thinking
  • tasks focused on problem solving
  • the importance or creative expression and strengthening critical awareness within the group

Teachers Tamara and Adam presented the application of innovative methods in education – using new technologies and online tools in education (ICT tools). The Covid-19 pandemic brought big changes in group work, which was still predominantly focused on online learning. The challenges of maintaining group interaction and the students' focus online could be solved by using the latest information trends while teaching online, together with continually developing knowledge and skills in that area. Our educators were shown:

  • ICT tools for creating content to be used in virtual teaching
  • ICT tools for maintaining and strengthening group interaction and student focus online
  • The advantages of using various online tools in a bid to make learning easier
  • The importance of continually developing knowledge and skills for using virtual aids in their work

The workshops were held with the aim of transferring experience and knowledge to our educators so they would be able to implement it during lessons with their groups and, subsequently, improve their own way of teaching, as well as for the whole group dynamic. The implementation of these valuable methods and tools aim to improve the experience of face-to-face and online learning for our students, as well as strengthen the personal and professional skills of our teachers.

This project was financed by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.

Dženana Kalamujić

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Erasmus+ Project – Intercultural Learning and Cultural Diversity

Firstly, I just have to say that my Erasmus+ Bologna experience was amazing, and I would thoroughly recommend that if you are ever given the opportunity to attend such a course to grab it with both hands.

From day one my colleagues and the staff were helpful, inciteful and understanding which only made the experience that much better. I also got the opportunity to explore Bologna and Florence which are both amazing cities with their own unique cultures and history.

Intercultural Learning and Cultural Diversity

As the title above suggests I attended a course on “Intercultural Learning and Cultural Diversity in the Classroom” and learnt a great number of skills and concepts that I hope I can one day implement in the school, the classroom and in my life in general. Some of these are:

  • The differences between “multicultural, “cross-cultural” and “intercultural”
  • The role of teachers and education in supporting students’ identities
  • How to break the vicious cycle of stereotypes
  • The link between culture and education and how we need to consider how culture influences the way we approach teaching as well as the way students interpret this approach
  • The importance of inclusion, membership, empathy in the classroom and outside it

Impressions of the Erasmus+ project

This course allowed me to grow as both a teacher and a person and has taught me the importance of acceptance, tolerance and understanding despite the differences that sometimes seem to divide us.

At the end of the day, we have more in common as human beings than might appear at first. It is just a matter of finding the similarities that connect us and seeing things from someone else’s point of view to gain a better understanding of them. A skill which anyone can learn with a bit of time and patience.

So, I’m looking forward to sharing the new knowledge I acquired on my Bologna adventure in a workshop I will be presenting to the staff and teachers at the school very soon.

I’m certain these new ideas and concepts can only benefit the school as a whole and create a better work and classroom environment for everyone.

Branimir Skračić

Project partners:

ELA: Erasmus Training Courses

The Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes

The project is funded by the European Union. Erasmus+ Enriching lives, opening minds.

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How to Implement the Callan Method in Your Teaching

There are some elements of the Callan method that can be incorporated into various teaching styles. Some of the most important elements are question-answer exercises, revision, and encouraging students to make mistakes.

Question-answer exercise

The teacher should prepare structured open questions to students, related to a topic (vocabulary) and grammar rule they are covering.

Then, the teacher calls out each student and asks the question. The student is expected to give the answer in full, using the learned vocabulary and grammar. If the student struggles, the teacher feeds them the answer, guiding them and supporting them in the learning. 

BENEFITS of the activity:

  1. Getting students to speak in the language they are learning, and being supported by the teacher, who, by correcting their mistakes, helps them learn the grammar, vocabulary, and correct pronunciation. 
  2. Giving each student equal speaking time in the classroom.
  3. Boosting students’ confidence.

Revision is key

Each class should start with revision of work from the previous class, and each class should finish with a revision of that day’s work. 

BENEFITS of the activity:

  1. The more you repeat something, the easier it is to remember.
  2. Students have more opportunity to learn. For example, if the first time they make a mistake in vocabulary, the second time in grammar, and the third time in pronunciation, by the fourth time they can perfect everything.

Making mistakes is encouraged

Mistakes are an essential part of learning, but fear of the unknown is engraved in us as human beings. In language learning, no matter how much we’ve studied or how well we know the grammar and vocabulary, we’re still scared to actually speak the language out loud.

With the Callan Method, the student is encouraged to make mistakes. In fact, it's their job to make mistakes, because teacher is there to guide them and to pick them up when they need help. They just need to build trust and let go of their fear of making mistakes. 

BENEFITS of the activity:

  1. Letting go of control in students.
  2. Fighting the fear of making mistakes.
  3. Students who make mistakes in the group create a stronger bond with peers and teachers.

Find out seven reasons why the Callan method is the best method for learning English online.

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Creative and Critical Thinking in Learners

At the end of this past July, I had the opportunity to attend a teacher training course, “Creativity for the future: promoting Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving,” in Bologna.

In brief, it was not the setting, though Bologna is indisputably breathtaking, it was the people I interacted with that made the experience so spectacular.

The course I attended was offered by ELA and our trainer was the ever-insightful Sara. I had the privilege to attend this course with participants from Romania, Estonia, Slovenia, and Bulgaria.

Facilitating Creative and Critical Thinking in Learners

Our main objective for the week was “preparing to foster 21st century skills in our students.” We covered topics such as 21st century skills, creativity tools and techniques, critical thinking - role to foster, problem-solving activities, and ICT tools to stimulate creativity and critical thinking.

Through these topics, we understood our roles as educators in facilitating a variety of thought processes in our learners, even if our learners vary in age. It was interesting to brainstorm and see how we could adapt our activities to reach all ages and types of learners.

Teaching Activities

During the entire training course, we were given many opportunities to learn by doing. Basically, we were given a little theory at the beginning of a topic and then were given activities to complete. The emphasis was on actually trying out concepts for ourselves, either individually or in groups.

 The approach taught me the importance of condensing the most necessary points of a subject and then allow learners to fully grasp the freshly taught material through a given activity. 

The activities we were given to carry out included a variety of media. Some activities were done through online tools such as Kialo, Thinglink and mentimeter, but many were not.

I appreciated the fact that not all activities in our modern classrooms have to be done virtually and that it is quite effective to occasionally go back to basics and use some variation of pen and paper. We must, however, ensure that we present activities to our learners that will incite some form of creativity and critical thinking.

Importance of Creative and Critical Thinking

In addition to the activities, we were given time to reflect on our processes. With so much happening in such a short time, this silent activity at the end of our training days gave us a good reminder to stop and evaluate all the day’s activities.

Through these reflections, we all noticed that we were asked to tap into our own creativity and find suitable ways to bring out the creativity in our students.

Also, we were asked to think critically about events around us. As we all know, information of all sorts is available to us all in a few short clicks. For this reason, the allotted time for reflection was a good reminder to check our biases and to ensure we transfer this thinking process onto our learners.

Impression of the Learning Experience in Bologna

Overall, the experience in Bologna with ELA has forever changed me mainly because it gave me a better insight into how to effectively teach from all angles.

I was able to observe and better communicate with a variety of fellow teachers (and learners) and those skills have already been implemented in my day-to-day activities.

Whoever coined the term “think outside the box” was really onto something, it truly is incredible to see the outcomes of thinking (and doing) outside the box!  

Maria Grgić Skendrović

Project partner:

ELA: Erasmus Training Courses

Find out more about the event here.

The project is funded by the European Union. Erasmus+ Enriching lives, opening minds.

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