The following proposals have been successfully implemented within the framework of the Erasmus+ Educational Program “Our School, My Future – ESL project” in all five partner schools. They aim to motivate and get teachers, students, parents, etc. involved in the task of combatting ESL.
The individual thematic areas of the interventions and/or programs proposed within typical education as well as the activities that fall within the framework of non-typical education were selected, implemented, and proposed so as to satisfy the interests of students, their future professional development, the effort to promote a “healthy” lifestyle as well as the development of student personality as active and socially aware European citizens.
In conclusion, the common denominator of all these activities and the basis of their planning and development was the creation and enhancement of a feeling of “belonging” to school in order to avert any future ESL troubles that could drive students away from school.
- Regardless of the number of courses being formally taught, national education authorities should modify school curriculum so as to safeguard that ample time and emphasis is given to subjects (or groups of subjects) that aim to develop “basic” or “social” skills (a.k.a. “life skills”), i.e. language (mother tongue and foreign languages), mathematics, sciences, and physical education.
- The needs of modern society and the imperative necessity to help students broaden their career prospects call for the development of digital skills through properly targeted educational programs that not only teach basic ICT skills but also promote more advanced competencies that are popular among the youth while at the same time fall in areas that are in high demand in the labor market (e.g. robotics was the competency of choice within the framework of this Erasmus+ project).
- Educational programs implemented at school both in the form of curricular or extra-curricular activities should incorporate thematic units that promote environmental awareness, physical activities, and health (e.g. this Erasmus+ project included independent educational programs/activities such as “Our School Garden”, “Distance Educational Programme – Promotion of healthy lifestyles and development of the students’ social skills through physical education and environmental activities”).
- Furthermore, there should be at least one extra-curricular program about preventing and handling school bullying (e.g. this Erasmus+ project included a group of students that tackled the issue artistically as well as in terms of research, creating short videos, participating in relevant presentations, conferences, etc. and implementing an experiential approach that allowed them to discuss their feelings and offer psychological support to their classmates).
- Following proper planning, group work methodologies should be used systematically in all of the aforementioned cases with suitable modifications depending on the situation (e.g. smaller groups of 2-3 students are recommended for the initial stages but 5-student groups are appropriate once students have familiarized themselves with this methodology). The Jigsaw-A (cooperation among members of a group) and Jigsaw-B (cooperation among groups in a class) methodological approaches are especially recommended for secondary education students. Older teenagers can also handle projects and problem solving but they should first have worked using the methodological approaches mentioned above to build experience and skills that will allow them to handle issues such as selecting and analyzing a specific thematic unit, etc.
- Students must be allowed to express their feelings in class and, eventually, they should be given a say and shape the subject taught together with the teacher. In order to handle this task responsibly, students must have been properly trained through a variety of activities (e.g. taking up roles in the initial stages of teaching is instrumental in this direction).
- Incorporating group work methodologies in everyday teaching practices normally requires a larger amount of time. Therefore, teachers should adapt their work so that each thematic unit is covered in more than one teaching hour and, probably, link the subject taught with relevant educational programs offered as extra-curricular activities.
- It is essential that teachers who lack the knowledge or skills to handle group work teaching and, especially, student evaluation within this framework should be offered proper training if they are to support students that find it difficult or impossible to catch up with the rest of the group or to allow students the level of autonomy and self-motivation needed within each student group.
- School subjects should be combined with experiential activities (experiential teaching) and, whenever possible, these activities should be allowed to expand throughout a term or even a whole school year.
- After-school clubs that promoted innovation and creativity were set up and functioned effectively in all partner schools within the framework of this Erasmus+ educational project. As a result, it is strongly recommended that schools in every partner country set up similar after-school clubs given that they will be made available to students systematically for at least two years each and that students participate regularly. Eventually, students could take the initiative and form local, national, or even European school networks around these clubs with the help and coordination of their teachers.
- It is also very important to allow interaction among students or between teachers and students to develop within a school as well as with the students and teachers of neighboring schools or schools that are based abroad. Many tools are now available on the web that provide satisfactory solutions and allow distance cooperation without putting the added value of face-to-face contact and communication aside.