Strategies for education in the new school year

Nearly 300 teachers and principals from all over the country, including Bulgarian schools abroad, university professors, mediators, and educational experts took part in the conference “Distance Learning in a Multicultural Environment”, organized by the Amalipe Center and the Department of Continuing Education and Qualification of Teachers (DCEQT) at the University of Veliko Tarnovo “St. St. Cyril and Methodius “, with the support of the Trust for Social Achievement on July 30. It was held online through the Zoom platform. The symbolic host of the event was the University of Veliko Tarnovo “St. St. Cyril and Methodius”. The Minister of Education Krassimir Valchev, the heads of the system projects of the Ministry of Education and Science Greta Gancheva, Evgenia Kostadinova, Natalia Mihalevska, Penka Ivanova, and other representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science also took part in the forum.

Detailed information about the Forum can be read here.

And here you can find all the materials and presentations from the conference

And while in the first session we set the framework and trends in educational policies in a pandemic, in the second we went through the good practices of the latter, in the final third session we discussed Education Strategies for the new school year, as each of us sees them in the field of education. their professional experience. Using the opportunities provided by the Zoom platform, and having already experienced and mastered the pitfalls of working in groups and dividing into virtual zoom rooms, we randomly divided into four groups to consider the need for change in the following areas:

  • Organizing the work of educational mediators; how educational mediator can support digital education; what is the portfolio of the educational mediator, systematization of his work, need for normative changes; the need for qualification and support with moderator Krassimira Blagoeva, director of Vasil Levski Primary School, Karadjovo.
  • Support for the pedagogical community: how the pedagogical community can make the most of its available resource and generate added value from it; normative changes, moderated by Lena Parova, director of St. St. Cyril and Methodius Primary School, Vetren
  • How schools in small settlements and schools working with students from vulnerable groups can work in the conditions of distance learning: organization of the learning process, the need for additional resources, the need for regulatory changes, the need for additional support. Moderator: Petya Rusinova, N. Vaptsarov Primary School, Selanovtsi village
  • Vocational education in terms of distance learning: organization of the learning process, the need for additional resources, the need for regulatory changes, the need for additional support. Moderator: Todor Djambov, PGHHT, Pazardzhik
    During this session, the four groups came together on the following proposals for change:

Team 1. Organizing the work of educational mediators

  • Systematization of the work of the educational mediator – changes in the normative documents – Change in ORDINANCE № 15 of 22.07.2019 on the status and professional development of teachers, principals, and other pedagogical specialists, including a process of improving the educational mediator and his qualification. Mentoring support from the teacher teams with which the specific educational mediator works can also be included here.
  • The educational mediator is a non-pedagogical staff, but for his work to be effective, he must be in direct contact with all pedagogical specialists, to participate in the PS in order to be able to provide adequate and complete interconnection between the school and the community.
  • The salary of educational mediator must be updated by a certain coefficient and for it to become different from the minimum wage for the country – each work must be evaluated and the persons must be motivated. OM has diverse job responsibilities.
  • Building a professional community of educational mediators in Bulgaria. This will stimulate the activity of each of them and will allow them to share, upgrade, and communicate with people who have the same interests, problems, and solutions.
  • After the completion of the new program and the project “Support for Success”, to find sustainable funding for the continuation of the work of educational mediators without relying solely on amounts that receive only part of the schools with educational mediator under Article 52a.

Team 2. Support for the pedagogical community:

  • Amendments to Ordinance №15 on the status and professional development …… – to enable training organizations to conduct distance learning and qualifications and to recognize credits. The content of the e-course, plan, program, the duration is important; defining “face-to-face” learning, inclusion in the definition and synchronous learning in an electronic environment
  • To form a team / s for creating a methodology/organization of training in an electronic environment, which should be consistent with the stage of training;
    Amend ORDINANCE № 10 of 19 JUNE 2014 ON HEALTH REQUIREMENTS IN THE PREPARATION AND COMPLIANCE OF WEEKLY SCHEDULES – the flexibility of the weekly schedule, during training in the electronic environment to allow the student to schedule freedom does not comply with the requirements that apply (Article 3 and Article 4)
  • Amendments to Ordinance №11 for evaluation… ..- to specify how exactly to evaluate projects that, for example, cover several subjects. Assessment in all subjects or assessment in only one subject. To have a criterion matrix for the evaluation of project-based training. In the same Ordinance to specify the possibility for assessment of acquired skills, and not only of knowledge, ie. tracking the acquired skills, not just the acquired knowledge
  • Changes in the law on preschool and school education and the Ordinance on pre-school education for e-learning and children in the preparatory groups – 5 and 6-year-olds, of course with the help of parents.

Team 3. How schools in small settlements and schools working with students from vulnerable groups can work in the conditions of distance learning:

  • Percentages for distance learning in an electronic environment for one school year should be an opportunity, not mandatory. Regulate in an ordinance who makes the decision and under what clear conditions for the transition to such a form.
  • It is imperative to create a single national electronic system in which to adapt the entire database of schools, electronic diaries, work on projects and national programs, and to enter ONLY with one address and password. This will avoid the constant clarification of which information, where to send, and where to look. For the use of this system to conduct in-depth training of all pedagogical specialists !!!
  • To envisage in the amendments to the new law the completion of the procedure for providing additional support to a student with special educational needs. All schools face the reluctance of parents to acknowledge a student’s existing problem and thus hinder the provision of the necessary support. It is common practice for HRDCs in district cities not to want to validate an assessment made by school teams (who work directly with the student and know his or her needs in detail) if the parent does not agree to the student receiving additional support. It is also necessary to change the Law on Social Assistance in the part “Child Protection” in such cases. Students with disabilities are most at risk of potential dropping out of school due to non-compliance with the material, loss of motivation, and lack of parental support.

Team 4. Vocational education in the conditions of distance learning

  • Change in the legal framework regarding the conduct of training and production practice, to allow flexibility – in online training to teach the theoretical part, and in face-to-face training to conduct the practical part.
  • To provide the vocational high schools and schools with vocational training with specialized software, with a free subscription for the schools / according to the specialties or unified for work on vocational training /.
  • To conduct training with teachers in professional training for working with the software.
  • To provide vocational schools with reliable devices on request, to form an optimal “bank” from which students who do not have devices with indicators corresponding to the software to be supplied.
    Of course, the list is not exhaustive. If you have suggestions, please fill out the form below, adhering to a constructive and specific proposal for change, not just a comment. There are a lot of comments and emotional reactions on social networks, but unfortunately, it will not lead to changes. Amalipe Center undertakes to systematize the proposals and send them to the Minister of Education and line experts.

The network “Every student will be a winner ” was established by the Amalipe Center and unites nearly 300 schools across the country. It aims to create a working model for reducing school dropout, increasing the motivation for the education of students and parents, creating a host multicultural environment, and introducing innovative methods of work based on intercultural elements that lead to increased the educational results of the students.

The meeting is realized with the support of

The Trust for Social Achievement (TSA) is a non-governmental organization whose mission is to break the vicious circle of poverty by promoting opportunities that help the most disadvantaged citizens of Bulgaria to achieve educational and economic success. TSA supports programs that, with their integrity, growth potential, and transparency, help to improve the well-being of the poorest people in Bulgaria, with a special focus on the Roma.