The first EdCamp (un)conference in Belarus gathered 80 teachers from all over the country

edcamp1The Global Shapers Minsk hub, in cooperation with the Belarusian School Society, organized a meeting designed for professional development of school teachers in EdCamp format.

It was October 14 when school teachers from all parts of the country gathered in Minsk for quite unusual meeting. Unlike typical conferences where participants have to follow the strict agenda set by the hosts, EdCamp allowed its guests to come up with their own topics and choose the most interesting ones. This format of meetings designed for professional development of school teachers originated in 2010 and ever since spread to a dozen of countries around the world.

The first ever EdCamp Belarus was hosted gathering nearly 80 teachers from Pinsk, Beshankovichy, Mahiliou, Slonim, Viciebsk and other Belarusian places. The Global Shapers Minsk hub, in cooperation with the Belarusian School Society, made this event happen not least thanks to the support given within Belarus’ Social Weekend program and personally by the philanthropist Yury Melnichak as well as by the Coca-Cola Beverages Belarus.

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EdCamp participants are pointing locations of their schools on Belarus’ map

The EdCamp format enables educators to understand the needs of modern labour market and to train schoolkids accordingly, says Belarus’ EdCamp participant Alena Kachanava, deputy director at school No. 31 in Viciebsk:

“I believe such meetings are vital. It is amazing to see so many devoted teachers here who work hard to educate children and bring up informed citizens. Should a teacher give them sapless and boring lectures, the children will likely ignore them and look for a better education somewhere abroad. Such meetings give teachers a sense of freedom and help them to realize that they are capable of driving a change and of making the pupils well trained and suited for the labour market needs.”

Such meetings give teachers a sense of freedom and help them to realize that they are capable of driving a change and of making the pupils well trained and suited for the labour market needs.

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Introductory panel hosting HR managers

The demands of Belarus’ labor market were indeed the main topic of the EdCamp introductory panel hosting Alena Praskuryna, Head of Marketing Department at jobs.tut.by, Ksenia Bareisha, Director of Free Choice consulting agency, and Karalina Kulbaka and Iryna Zhyzhyna, HR managers at IT company Besk.

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Tamara Mackievich, Association of Belarusian School

EdCamp format is somewhat unusual not only for participants but for the organizers as well, acknowledged Tamara Mackievich, deputy head of the Belarusian School Society:

“Nevertheless, the teachers seem to appreciate this EdCamp format and opportunities it provides. This is a bright example of how an event can be built in an unconditional way where everyone can set their own agenda, is willing to share their ideas and create the momentum necessary for this type of meetings”.

Veranika Bebekh presenting her topic
Veranika Bebekh presenting her topic

Indeed, nearly twenty topics were proposed by the Belarus’ EdCamp participants. The topic Use of mobile phones in classroom by Veranika Bebekh, an English teacher working at School № 4 in Salihorsk, turned out to be the most popular one. The technology and multimedia related topics were also among the top.

The first EdCamp in Belarus was hard to be ignored by foreign experts as well teachers from the Czech Republic and Ukraine coming to share their views. Jiři Trunda, a school director and assistant at the Pedagogical Faculty of the Charles University in Prague, was happy to introduce methods of assessing the progress with educational reforms in the Czech Republic.

Jiři Trunda admitted that decentralization of the educational system was one of the country’s remarkable achievements:

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Jiři Trunda speaking about Czech education system

“At schools we can draw up our own educational plans and programs, these are not imposed on us by the government. All school teachers are part of the discussion on how to organize educational process and their interaction with pupils. We surely have some basic framework but nevertheless enjoy a great deal of freedom. We are free to choose among various textbooks for each school subject elaborated for each school year. Furthermore, the Czech schools are free to publish their own school textbook if they wish so”.

Publishing an own textbook by a school is a matter of money. And the Czech schools get funding from local budgets, as well as from commercial activities, such as rental of school facilities.

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Yauheni Puhach gives an opening speech

Yauheni Puhach, member of Global Shapers Minsk Hub, which brought Edcamp to Belarus, shares his plans to develop the educational initiative:

“Taken the interest that our event generated in the Belarusian teachers community, we will surely keep it up and aim at organizing an even larger, two-day EdCamp early next year”.

 

We will surely keep it up and aim at organizing an even larger, two-day EdCamp early next year.

The organizers also think of bringing Edcamp to the country regions to hold mini EdCamps in Belarusian schools throughout the country.

Photo: Liudmila Batura.

More EdCamp pictures can be found in the Minsk Hub FB group EdCamp Album and in the EdCamp FB group