The classroom of Love

September 4, 2023 By 0 Comments

Following her participation in the teachers’ workshop facilitated by the SYNTHESIS team experts, Mrs. Fani Constantinou, from Klirou Public Kindergarten, presented to her class the activities that were suggested by the original pilot team in Italy for the pilot My ideal school; the school I would like. With the support from the headmistress, Mrs. Constantia Christodoulou, Fani together with her 25 pupils started exploring and brainstorming on the concept of the ideal school.   The children were asked to think of activities that would make them very happy to go to school every day and that would make their classroom and school ideal. The pupils suggested many ideas, such as visits of parents in the classroom; more drawing hours; to play musical chairs; to have their parents preparing and delivering a lesson in their classroom; to read storybooks outdoors; to visit other schools; to go to the theatre; to visit a friend’s garden; etc.

These ideas were the starting point for a full calendar of engaging activities. Teachers and pupils co-decided to use the format of a digital book (as it was suggested by the original pilot of the Italian team) to present the multiplicity and diversity of the activities implemented throughout the year. For three months the children were engaged in numerous activities for which they expressed interest. They had the opportunity to reorganise the learning corners of their classroom and suggest educational activities to play with their peers. They created a relaxation corner that was missing from their ideal school where they could hang out together in a comfortable setting. To create their relaxation corner, they asked from the school to provide pillows, a hanging egg chair, and mosquito net; this was made possible with the support of SYNTHESIS.

Some of the children asked to become the teachers for a day so they had the opportunity to teach their peers. One pupil did a geography lesson and talked about his country of origin, while other children facilitated reading sessions where they had the opportunity to read a short storybook to their peers. The children explored different ways of learning that were more participatory, reflective, and allowed for their voices to be heard. They learned through the arts; by using Lego bricks or playing bowling; and by collaborating on different tasks. For example, they “visited” and learned about countries that their peers come from, such as Ghana, Greece, Romania, etc. They also listened to music and learned fun games from those countries that their peers taught them. In the case of Romania, a parent visited the classroom and talked extensively about their country and the games the children played back in their home country. They taught the children a dance which the children presented in their final show.

Some of the children suggested to have more outdoors activities, so together with their teachers they went on a hiking during which they had the opportunity to observe the transformation of trees as spring approaches. They also visited two different vegetable gardens that belong to families of their peers. There they learned more about fruits and vegetables and discussed with the parents what it means to be a farmer. Moreover, the headmistress read a story book to the children in the school yard and discussed with them the themes of cooperation, friendship, empathy, and teamwork.

The children also suggested greater participation of their parents (and grandparents) in school-related activities. They invited a parent who demonstrated the process of cookie-making, leading to a collaborative baking session with the children. They invited some of their grandparents and together they made some traditional Cypriot (and Middle Eastern) fried pastries called ‘bourekia’. A parent who is a chef visited the classroom and together with the children prepared a fruit salad and fruit smoothies. Additionally, they invited actors and musicians, providing the children the opportunity to experience a stage play, a puppet play, and a musical show.

Following over three months of engaging activities, the children together with their teacher co-decided to showcase a snippet of those activities during the school’s final show. They invited parents and other children and presented selected activities; discussed the repiloting experience; presented a performance of both Romanian and international dances; and presented their digital book which included a timeline of their activities and their self-portraits.