Teacher Training: A constant learning process

School is, quintessentially, a place of training. It is a study environment that involves the core of human knowledge; the knowledge of one’s self and others. It is a place of cognitive and citizenship training; it is the first collective environment that children enter outside the family environment.

Because it is a place of training, all members of the school must be involved in the training processes. At be.Living, we view teachers as learners, constantly learning about the art of education.  That is why the training we regularly provide to the teachers is our greatest work tool.

“Learning is a two-way street: I teach when I learn, and I learn when I teach. We also understand that, as teachers, we do not teach what we have already learned, but what we are learning,” says be.Living elementary school coordinator, Gabriela Fernandes.

Gabriela explains that, in college, teachers learn an overview of the history of education, pedagogy, and didactics, but that it is impossible to understand schools if you have not yet worked at one. “When teachers join be.Living, they don’t know the work that is developed here. They aren’t aware of our Political-Pedagogical Project. It is from this context that they will develop their work.  In that sense, teacher training is an essential tool.”

But the training is not restricted to new teachers. The training is provided regularly to all teaching staff, and is fundamental for developing the quality of teaching that the children receive. Here, everyone is viewed by the school and the management team as being in a continuous learning process.

Gabriela says that when the teacher experiences this learning process for themself, the teaching-learning process they develop in the classroom with the student takes on a different meaning. “This is when we get to experience the processes of ‘action, reflection, action’, which is a saying by Paulo Freire that we use in education. In other words: I enter the classroom, experience its dynamism, turn to an internal process where I reflect on what I’ve experienced, and then return to the classroom. It is difficult to truly learn if there is not this regular pause for reflection.  Training must therefore be continuous.”

To create favorable environments for teachers to experience this reflective process in their practice, we conduct three types of training at be.Living.

For the first, having in mind that at school we work and build school culture as a group, we gather all the teachers together, from the kindergarten and the elementary school, for collective training. There are a total of six meetings around a central theme suggested by a committee and by management, to be worked on and developed during that year.

From this great collective theme, other themes reveal themselves; themes that will be worked on by the kindergarten and elementary school teams in a second stage, with the specific issues that need to be addressed in each phase being looked into.

Finally, this work, carried out within the phases, branches off into the individual training sessions that we hold periodically with each teacher, dealing specifically with points that the teacher needs to look at within their practice.

“Here at the elementary school we also hold a special training session for assistant teachers. There are 10 meetings during the year, one each month, in which I discuss fundamental themes of education. So from the moment that the teacher first enters the school, they must go through the training processes,” adds Gabriela.

The coordinator says that the training of the teacher really affects the children and changes the school’s atmosphere.  “The teacher who fails to study cannot plan well, cannot be reflective, cannot keep up with group dynamics, and does not develop the theme. At be.Living, the teacher feels it necessary to be a scholar because the work we do here calls for it and goes far beyond any textbook. It is the teachers who make the school. For teachers to meet the expectations of be.Living, we need to train them. As coordinator, I need to be with them and walk through it with them; training them and being training by them. That’s what education is all about: everyone in this process is learning.”

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