The first edition of the Training of Teachers in Citizenship Education through the Dialectic Method and Theater took place in Portugal from 22 to 29 of June 2020. Due to the restrictions imposed by Covid-19 outbreak, the training took place online, having been organized in 15 hours that were distributed as follows: 3 synchronous sessions, the first and the third of an hour and a half and the second lasting two hours. That week, asynchronous autonomous work sessions were also planned to explore the platform and the materials provided by the trainer, such as the teacher’s log, observation schedule, educational scenarios, teachers methodological guide, worksheet with videos and other practical resources, etc. The training was attended by 49 participants, including teachers, trainers and school psychologists.
Some participants expressed they missed one or two face-to-face sessions to try some of the theatre techniques and the dialectical method process because it became more difficult to understand the issues that would require some practical experience and that was very difficult to share. But “the trainers were tireless in transmitting the content, especially in the context in which we are” and only during the implementation more doubts and questions will arise. However, “knowing the availability and support of the trainers to overcome them is fantastic!”
The participants, in general, considered several aspects to be the most useful and interesting of the training, such as:
- Diversity of suggested strategies/ approaches/ techniques;
- Practical component, the examples given during the training, the applicability of content in pedagogical practice;
- The contact with the method, materials and tools provided by the trainers;
- The contents covered and the assertiveness always demonstrated;
- Implementation of this method in the projects of different domains for citizenship that schools are developing;
- All information and tools are available to the trainee;
- Provide strategies to dynamize certain subjects to enhance students’ receptivity and to train them as citizens responsible and endowed with critical thinking;
- The structure of educational scenarios and their analysis.
Besides these, another success factor of this training was that most of the participants considered that the EAR training had an impact on their career in a positive and enriching way because the diversification of teaching methodologies presented motivated them to learn more innovatively. Some of them considered that become more prepared to plan activities aimed at education for citizenship. Also, participants shared that they can apply the knowledge acquired and the new techniques within the classes in a very positive way as it can motivate students to participate and reflect on the citizenship themes. It is a closer and more appealing way to work with students and an asset for practical application in situations that may arise. However, some expressed concerns about the high number of students per class:
“I hope to use it but I foresee difficulties if the classes continue with a high number of students. Preferably, shifts should be chosen. This year I tried a more interactive approach in a thought workshop but it was complicated due to the number of students and the subject being assessed. Citizenship classes can be further enriched with these techniques”.
Overall, the training was very important because it challenged teachers to rethink methodologies for implementation of citizenship education with the students.
Although we love to train teachers and have a particular interest in this topic, it was a challenge to organize this first edition of the training due to the conditions we were experiencing. Bearing in mind that this topic alone requires face-to-face training where the practice of theatre techniques and the Dialectic Method should exist, prepare this training in an online format in 3 weeks and taking into account that the target-group are teachers and trainers and the training took place in the last week of the school year (in a year as atypical as 2020), we can consider that having 49 participants was a success!