Teachers Support at MIOS Tuzla International Interactive Open Schools

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Supporting teaching and learning is at the heart of the International Interactive Open Schools’ (MIOS Tuzla) initiative.  Our vision is to strengthen the potential of schools to be catalysts for increased openness, tolerance, inclusiveness, and participatory decision making in local communities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia.  Key to the strategy is the professional improvement of teachers and the development and implementation of innovative student centered curriculums.

MIOS Tuzla is non-governmental organization that informally started in 2002 and was formally incorporated in February 2004.  Because of the tense post-war environment and the need to promote and build tolerance, peace and mutual understanding between three new countries (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia), in 2002 the Freudenberg Foundation, from Germany, contacted the municipalities of Tuzla, Osijek and Novi Sad as well as the school authorities for possible project between schools from these three cities, which regardless of the conflict  still had a similar school system, the same language and were within reachable distance by car.
Over the years we have worked with many schools; 30 in Tuzla, 12 in Osijek and 12 in Novi Sad.  Our activities focus on three main goals:

  • 1. Development of open community schools through partnership with the,school's staff, parents, pupils and local community;
  • 2. Development of motivating environment for active learning and teaching for every pupil within the schools and local community;
  • 3. Institutional development of an international association, "Interactive Open Schools" Tuzla.

We encourage the development of a whole school strategy by working with all stakeholders: teachers, parents, local community, pupils, school’s management.  Teacher development and support are central. We provide training and practice guidance on interactive learning, project teaching, intercultural teaching, service learning, inclusion, communication and conflict resolution between different ethnic and national groups.  
Additionally we promote sharing of best practice by organizing regional meetings of teachers and other professionals through forums and conferences.  To pupils and parents we provide opportunities for self-empowerment and organizing.   The process is consistent with the standards for open community schools.  
 
Besides training we also support teachers in practice, while they try these new methods and reflect to us what is useful and what should be changed or improved. Balance between theory and practice is very important since we work with practitioners directly involved in the learning process of children.

Based on analysis and reflections from the field, we can conclude that our teachers highly value our support, not only because we contribute to their professional growth but also because our work with students and parents facilitates their job.  Our contribution may be essential in particular to what it teaches about inclusive practice. This focus helps teachers to develop skills that make them more open to the community, to incorporate community life into regular learning and to foster understanding amongst potentially antagonistic groups.  

They also value the opportunities we provide to share knowledge with other colleagues.  And as a future step we would like to connect with schools in other countries and share practices through professional exchanges and study visits.