On the 21st of October 2020, our Board-Member Alexandra Seybal, attended the TILL Conference, bringing in the student voice in the discussion on teacher’s qualification and the broader topic of Teachers Inspiring Lifelong Learning.

The conference was the closing event of the three-year ERASMUS project. TiLL aims to inspire competencies of teachers for the future and includes partners from several countries like the UK, Italy, Sweden, Belgium and France and is focused on developing a Lifelong Learning European qualification. Lifelong learning puts children’s future learning at its heart, appreciating that this will only be achieved through a high quality and flexible teaching workforce who themselves are open, lifelong learners who possess the skills and knowledge needed for education in 2030 and beyond. At the conference they also presented their self-assessment tool for teachers, where they can check where they stand and are able to identify their readiness on life-long learning and emphasized the value of self-reflection. Also, they have published reports in the past on the conditions of initial teacher education and the continuing professional development and learning, which are published on the website. During the conference, the competence framework for Teachers Inspiring Lifelong Learning was presented, they discussed how teachers’ mobility and teachers qualification may benefit from a European certificate and proposed implementation strategies that incentivise teachers to undertake continuing professional development in the core area of their profession.

With representation from the European Commission, interesting inputs from teachers, but also the scientific and parents’ perspective, it sure was a diversified panel. 

Alexandra addressed different topics during the disucssion. Here some of her comments:

I want to raise demands both for teachers and students, we have the common goal of improving education, in order to improve our world and society. 

When thinking about teacher’s qualification and teaching in general, I want to raise three topics, representing my peers. Especially taking the lockdown into consideration:

  • Media Literacy

  • Adapting to learner’s needs, pointing out inclusion, diversity and all kinds of access needs

  • and of course different learning types, where I want to mention Peer Education:

Before going in depth into these topics, I want to shortly speak about lifelong-learning: nurses, like my mother for example, have to educate themselves constantly to be able to help and save their patients, but when it comes to the education sector, we see a lack of continuous teachers training . However, I won’t and also can’t blame the teachers! Teachers’ trainings are often optional, taking place after working hours and the costs need to be covered by the teachers themselves. ,Simple measures could be implemented to make teachers’ training more accessible."

Media Literacy:

"The lockdown was a tough situation for teachers and students due to the lack of digital skills, programmes fit for online learning and accessible and state-funded online learning platforms which are still missing. Additionally,  already existing inequalities were exacerbated. As it was recommended to also talk about best practices, I want to tell you a story from my time as a volunteer for media literacy: some years ago I was part of a programme, where I explained to teachers how school students use the Internet, showing Instagram, Snapchat and even some games. Of course this isn't a priority, but it sure was a nice experience to exchange knowledge and see how teachers are super eager to learn too."

The different needs of the learners and inclusion:

One thing I have been always promoting is schools to be a safer space, meaning that all people should feel comfortable there, teachers AND students - which often isn’t the case. Especially my peers in school, who weren’t white or didn’t have a catholic background, often struggled to find role models. In schools, indeed the is a diversity of learners, but sadly there is bot a diversity of teachers! Keeping Black Lives Matters in mind, I often wished there was awareness on many topics in general: anti-racism, mental health, climate change.

But why is inclusion such an important topic for me? In Austria, where I am located, there are so-called ‘German-Classes’ attended by migrant students. Not only they attend classes in different language, but also the subjects are different, for a certain amount of time. This is shocking for me, because in order to build  a good-working society, all kinds of learners need to collaborate in school. For that we need more, and especially, better paid teachers.

To conclude this topic, I also want to raise the importance of talking about student’s mental health. Thankfully, I often saw teachers that really cared about student’s wellbeing ,  unfortunately, Covid-19 has worsened the situation for many students and we can’t expect teachers to be social-workers, administrators and teachers for 20 or more students at the time. We need more social workers and psychologists in schools, in order to support both students and teachers.

Different, innovative approaches of teaching:

One teaching-style that is often forgotten is Peer Education: school students have a lot to offer and it is crucial to provide spaces for exchanging all kinds of knowledge. It is really important to me, to embrace school student’s participation, develop their skills as global actors and recognise them as such, so we can be educated as actors that make the world a better place.

Nothing about us, without us.’’

"On behalf of the Board we deeply appreciate the invitation! One speaker at the panel said: ‘’Maybe we are here, because we had this one inspiring teacher’’. That being said, we thank you for the possibility to raise our voice."