On 17th may, at exactly 9 p.m. CEST, started the C6 SHORT-TERM JOINT STAFF ONLINE TRAINING EVENT IN SLOVENIA – “Integrating new learning methods into the learning process for students with SEN” – via Zoom platform.
There were 31 participants per day, from all partner countries: Italy, Portugal, Turkey, Poland and Croatia plus 11 slovenian teachers.
The Slovenian coordinator, and project’s main coordinator – Mrs. Tanja Nikolovski – opened the virtual mobility by presentating the timeline for the first day. It was a moment of rejoice for seeing eachother again after so long time. Altough Whatsapp group had been filled with photos, memes, souvenirs from other physical mobilities to keep memory alive, this was the time and the place to officially work together again, we were all very excited and happy to be able to share this experience.
At 9.05 a.m. Mrs. Msc Lidija Marin, Dr. Ljudevita Pivka Ptuj School headmistress, gave her welcoming speech and some minutes later the Heart Beat Band, mentored by Mrs. Msc Jasna Veber Zazula, presented an original musical performance.
At 9.30 a.m. we enjoyed a carefully planned virtual walk around the school dr. Ljudevita Pivka Ptuj, hosted by Msc Lidija Marin, headmistress. The school is quite new and well equipped. It impressed the group.
Then, at 10.30 a.m. there was a presentation of the mobile service – individual additional professional assistance to students with learning difficulties in regular primary schools by Mrs. Aleksandra Serec Šijanec, special education teacher. The group was given a detailed explanation of how SEM teachers also help students in regular classes around town, therefore showing that support is given outside the special education schools. Not always an easy straightforward help but teachers try to do their best.
Afterwards, there was time for dialogue, from participants’ questions we could infer that they were motivated and eager to learn more about the subject and how Slovenia supports inclusion.
And this was the motto for the presentation of the Slovenian school system by Mrs. Tanja Nikolovski. She introduced the topic and gave a detailed explanation through a planned digital presentation enriched by the use of informative vídeos of Slovenian Ministry of Education.
At 12.30 a.m., time for IRIS Center presentation – a Center for Education, Rehabilitation, Inclusion and Counselling for the Blind and Partially Sighted and our host was Mrs. Katjuša Koprivnikar, headmistress. Also her presentation was very accurate, used lots of images to exemplify the work developed in there and thus, digitally, share what we were supposed to see physically. We learnt for example that the center has programs for individual or group work with blind or partially sighted children, further qualification of professional staff, of cooperation with parents/guardians of blind and partially sighted children, for development of inclusive environments. Again the goal was accomplished and this working group could clearly understand IRIS mediation work on the subject.
On 18th may, the second day of this e-mobility, we all gathered via Zoom at 9 a.m., to visit the Center for Education and Rehabilitation of Physically Handicapped Children and Adolescents, Kamnik, hosted by Mrs. Simona Rogič-Ozek.
A specialised center for education and rehabilitation of children and adolescents with motor impairments or chronic illnesses. Habilitation means primarily education, however it also comprises medical therapy and rehabilitation and the development of other areas, which are important for life. Their goals are to achieve a suitable educational level, positively influence the medical condition and achieve the highest possible level of independence and effectiveness in physical, intellectual and social functioning within the individual’s capabilities.
At 10.00 a.m. we visited CIRIUS center – Vipava Center for Education, Rehabilitation and Training Vipava hosted by Mrs. Tanja Princes, special education teacher.
And afterwards, it was time for the presentation of Hearing and Speech Center Maribor by Mrs. Alenka Werdoning. Founded in 1960 to teach speech skills to children with hearing impairments, it offers a variety of early educational programming: Day School for children as young as six weeks, Preschool, Full-Day Kindergarten/Transitional Kindergarten program, Summer programs, including camps for children through second grade
Children with and without hearing loss or speech/language delays can benefit from its inclusive classroom settings. All classrooms and activities at the Early Learning Center feature language and literacy enriched curriculum with small student to teacher ratios. The listening and spoken language based programs provide a superior educational foundation for all children.
The last presentation was of VDC Sožitja Ptuj- a care and work center that provides care, guidance and employment under special conditions for people with intellectual disabilities, and a housing unit, our host was Mrs. Petra Šuster.
Laster, the group attended the welcoming speech by Mrs. Nuška Gajšek, the Mayor of the city of Ptuj. A friendly speech which praised the guiding principles of the project, its participants, the professionalism with which they developed it to foster sharing of good inclusion practices to be provided to people with special needs. She also wished for our physical presence in Ptuj, looking forward to meet us all in person. Finally, we viewed some vídeos about the city of Ptuj to get acquainted with its inviting beautiful landscapes, culture and people.
On 24th may, it was time for the third day of the e-mobility, again, everybody joined Zoom platform at 9 a.m., to learn about the Halliwick Concept of swimming for disabled people.
Mrs. Tanja Knehtl, occupational therapist, introduced the topic and showed excellent examples of this type of aquatic therapy, we were shown some videos of a practical demonstration in the pool with children. This approach focus on people with physical and/or learning difficulties, motivates them to participate in water activities, to move independently in water and to swim.’ (IHA – Halliwick Concept 2000). The method started to develop in London, in 1949, by James and Phyl McMillan and is based on principles of hydrostatics, hydrodynamics and kinesiology. The first official course on Halliwick concept in Slovenia was in 1996 in Ljubljana. In Slovenia there are 15 Halliwick swimming centers and in this school, they started with the first Halliwick course in 2013, they now have 6 instructors and 2 leaders. After this presentation there was a moment for debate and share of opinions about this methodology. All group participated actively.
At 10.30 a.m., we attended another most expected presentation about Animal – Assisted therapy (AAT) – activities with a dog and students, presented by Mrs. Tanja Kaučevič, special education teacher. She told the group about the main rules to work with animals and then showed videos of its practical implementation. All group mobilized their attention to this type of therapy that fosters interaction between children and dogs. We learnt that pets can reduce stress, anxiety and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve one’s cardiovascular health. Caring for an animal can help children grow up more secure and active. Pets also provide valuable companionship for older adults. But this is not so easy to accomplish, there are strict selection criteria both for animals and trainers. Not all dogs can be therapy dogs, there are specifics of temperament, obedience skills, relationship with the handler, and more which a dog needs, to be a successful therapy dog, both candidate therapy dog and handler have to be tested. And there were so many other interesting information that we learnt: the AAI – Animal Assisted Intervention – includes animals that meet certain criteria and is designed to promote improvement in physical, social, emotional and/or cognitive functioning of the person(s) involved; the R.E.A.D. for PET – dog assisted reading. R.E.A.D. ® (Reading Education Assistance Dogs), a licensed program registered with Intermountain Therapy Animals USA.
At 11.45 a.m. we were ready for the presentation of activities with the HORSES and children with SEN which Mrs. Tamara Tomašič, special education teacher, carefully told us about. It was very interesting to see how these type of therapies actually are being implemented and how natural environments are being used for child development.
Last but not least, a bit of culture, therefore, the group was challenged to bake a tradicional dessert called Potica; Mrs. Tina Majerič, home economics teacher, and her students showed us, step by step, how to do it and now… it’s up to us to literally get our hands on the dough!
At 13.15 p.m. took place the closing event – a performance by students under the guidance of Mrs. Aleksandra Serec Šijanec, Mrs. Klementina Korpič Mikec, Mrs. Dragica Emeršič, Mrs. Vesna Horvat. A real magic moment that prepared our hearts for the end of this e-mobility.
However, every single heart was overwhelmed, even swept away, by the sincere words of the project coordinator. Those words made us feel the affection and the friendship that was forged throughout the 3 years project work, all the collaboration, commitment and joy put in every single activity, talk, performance, exhibition or stroll in each partner’s town, always with a smile and a warm friendly and caring attitude on our faces! Always together on the road!
Together we did it! Together we are can! That’s the I.D.E.A.!
Dear Partners, dear Friends!
We managed to come up with a project idea that, out of a possible 100 points, received 98. The result is enviable! In our project idea, the Slovenian National Agency recognized a challenge worthy of attention.
My dear coordinators Marta, Tilde, Enis, Agata, Zlata we have reached almost to the end. The pandemic hit us, prevented some live activities, but we still managed to carry out all the planned activities to the end. Only the final report needs to be written.
At the end of our three-year journey, I would like to sincerely thank you for your contribution to the realization of the project idea. What findings and results we came to, it will be clear to us only when we come into the final report and analyze our work. Anyone who has never participated in a project with an international dimension cannot imagine how much time and effort has actually been put into it. I want to say to all of you a BIG THANK YOU.
Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if we haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, we really haven’t learned anything.
Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.