Teachers' opinions on the first mobility

ITE Enrico Tosi, Italy

Hello everyone, we are Elena Tornaghi and Michela Zanoletti, two teachers of the Italian school ITE Tosi in Busto Arsizio, near Milan. Michela is responsible for all the debate activities within our school and teacher of Spanish, while I teach English and I’m a debate coach and trainer.

We spent memorable days thanks to the heartfelt welcome of the staff of the Colegio Miralmonte in Cartagena in Murcia, Spain, our partner in the Erasmus + project “DEBATING AS A NEW APPROACH TO LEARNING”.

During our stay in Cartagena, it was so exciting to be able to work in an international environment together with Lithuanian, Finnish, Slovenian and Spanish students and colleagues! We did interesting activities together by assisting and shadowing in workshops with such nice and skilled Spanish and Slovenian trainers: Rok, Nusa and Manuela offered structured exercises that allowed us to learn new methodologies in debating also in a vertical key. And we saw our young debaters improving more and more as the days went by. We come back now more updated in terms of methodology and humanity. And it was exciting to see the little Europeans working and growing together with a spirit of collaboration and a desire for mutual knowledge in the name of their future home: Europe, which was being built under our eyes! A privilege.

Joaquin, the kind headteacher of Colegio Miralmonte, had a fruitful discussion about the way of intending the debate in his school by comparing extensively with Michela's experience.

Elena, Daniel and Javier also had the opportunity to discuss methods of learning-teaching English in their respective schools.

Marina accompanied the students and all the teachers to learn more about the local Spanish history and culture while also admiring the panorama from the top of Cartagena. In conclusion, in Cartagena we felt at home and at ease with our colleagues from other countries.

We go back with the nostalgia of those days of sunshine and Spain in our eyes, with Europe growing in front of us and our best students ready to feel more and more European. Stuck in our memories is the day of the departure: hugging each other, smiling and crying under their face masks, all the incoming students happy and grateful despite the tears!

Thanks a bunch to all the staff of the Colegio Miralmonte for the wonderful hospitality and for this amazing European experience!

Moletai gymnasium, Lithuania

We are delighted to have had an opportunity to participate live in the Learning, Teaching & Training activities and International teachers' meeting of "Erasmus+" KA2 project "Debating as a New Approach to Learning" at Colegio Miralmonte in Spain. In our opinion, all the mobility days were organised efficiently - there were well organised activities related to the debate, during which the project participants had to deliver speeches by giving arguments, supporting them with examples/ justifications, consequences and presenting them to the whole audience. Project mobility teachers have acquired the knowledge of debate methodology, practical skills and had a great opportunity to watch students’ debates take place. We must admit that our gymnasium students were actively involved in all mobility activities, where they acquired and improved their public speaking, argumentation, critical thinking skills, developed body language as well as English speaking skills. Practical activities of each mobility day were followed by a diversity of rich cultural - cognitive activities. While visiting the old town of Cartagena and the castles of Alicante, we broadened our outlook and got acquainted with the history, architectural and cultural heritage of the country which goes back to ancient Roman times. During the mobility in Colegio Miralmonte, both students and teachers had an excellent opportunity to communicate with the project participants from other foreign countries as well as develop their intercultural competencies.

Teachers Rita, Danguole, Rima, Moletu gimnazija

Rada Robiča Primary School, Slovenia

Amazing - because I had fun, many new places, new skills …

The school year began in high hopes for our Debate project. Unfortunately, we soon realised that all our debate tournaments in Slovenia would be online. So we decided to implement »hybrid version«: the tournament online and the debaters in bubbles at school. In this way, we organized the first Debate Saturday at school in the beginning of October and participated at the first national debate tournament. Then, very encouraging news came regarding our project. We were to take part in our first student exchange – LIVE! The experience has brought us a lot of positive vibes and enthusiasm for the project.

At the Interim Transnational Meeting, we finally met our coordinator Giovanna Colombo, the colleagues from other schools and the writing team from the debate societies. We exchanged opinions about the project, got to know the progress of the writing materials, clarified the budget items and made our schedule for the activities to come. After the quiet period due to the lockdowns, we are now very optimistic about the project itself. We can see the activities will lead to the fulfilment of our goals. As teachers and mentors, we feel privileged to work with such partners and be able to contribute to the development of debate and its placement into curricular methods to enrich the education process. Regarding the project objectives, we were successful in Spain.

What about the students' activities?

Our first mobility was excellent and very productive.

The activities on the first day focused on styles and strategies of rhetoric. Firstly, students deduced what are the strategies of good rhetoric and how and what with to achieve them. Then they put it all to the test through exercises. On the second day, they built on what they had learnt on the first day by focusing on the content of a debate argument and its argumentation, in addition to the strategies of good rhetoric. Once they had mastered all this, they focused on the Karl Popper debating format used in primary school debating. On the third day of the workshops, they continued with negations on specific arguments. They had thus learnt all the necessary steps for debating and were ready to debate. They were divided into groups, given statements focused on ecological topics based on which they had to prepare arguments for both the propositional and the oppositional side. And the very interesting debates began. Debating was very successful.

Students Ela, Zala, Lina, Klemen, Gal and Nejc quickly made friends with students from the other participating countries. Language was not a barrier, and the pleasant and relaxed atmosphere helped them to quickly get to know the other participants from Spain, Finland, Italy and Lithuania. The friendly, cheerful and hospitable Spaniards generously welcomed us and showed us the pulse of life in Cartagena, guiding us through the city streets where we could admire the modernist architecture; visit the Roman Theatre and the Batería de Castillitos. We were pleasantly surprised by the reception we received from the deputy Mayor and the tour of the Town Hall. We also visited the city of Alicante. Time flew by and we spent our last evening at the school where a party was prepared and where the participating countries presented themselves with traditional food. Slovenia presented itself with walnut roll (potica), minced lard, pumpkin oil, pumpkin seeds, sauerkraut and Carniolan sausage. The richly laid tables invited us to try a variety of dishes. The biggest and very pleasant surprise were flamenco dancers. The children had fun on the dance floor until the hour of departure, and many shed a tear as they said goodbye.

The English School, Finland

The Erasmus exchange was an amazing experience. First of all, because we hadn't traveled in two years because of the pandemic, getting together with people from four other countries was an experience we were longing for. Coming from dark and rainy Finland in November, we were thrilled to be greeted with sunny weather. The program was very well organized. My students were very happy with the debate coaches who challenged them and gave them food for thought. The sessions were academic and they received quality feedback in order to improve their debating skills. All this occurred in a relaxed environment of friendship and trust. 

The program had a balance between work and culture/entertainment. We went on excursion  to Alicante, to the Roman forums in Cartagena, and had guided walks through the city. The last night we were blown away by beautiful Spanish dances performed by students at a local dance school.

The best part of the whole trip was not only the fantastic excursions, but the bonds the students and teachers made among themselves. There were tears and hugs on the last day as they really forged friendships during those days.

I want to thank our Spanish colleagues for going out of their way to be generous and excellent hosts.

Fundación Educativa Activa-t, Spain

Hello everyone, Javier speaking.

The teachers at Colegio Miralmonte fondly remember the days we shared with our European colleagues at our school.

This is our first Erasmus project and, to make matters “more difficult”, international mobilities started with us: our school had to host the other European schools. They were months of a lot of nerves and hard work, but they were totally dissipated by the total kindness and willingness to collaborate of our dear colleagues from Finland, Italy, Lithuania, and Slovenia.

During the first mobility in Spain, students from our school were able to participate in the different debate workshops, so well organised by our colleagues from Za in Proti and the Activa-T Foundation. The students were able to see that, coming from different backgrounds and countries, they could work and collaborate as a group. That is the very idea of Europe: "Working together for the same goal while being enriched by different backgrounds, cultures and countries". Everyone added their own touch to a final product. It was certainly exciting to see how borders disappeared and Europe was more alive than ever when our students came together.

Our students have been very appreciative of the debate activities proposed because it has also helped them to learn how to discuss, organise their points of view, discover new information. Moreover, thanks to these workshops they have been able to further strengthen their skills in English and oral presentations.

We were also able to enjoy fruitful meetings at the Transnational Meeting where we got to express our different questions about the project, we managed to set future dates for the next mobilities, we knew the status of the project and we, simply, got to see each other in a more relaxed way and in person. It was a pleasure to share those couple of days with you.

Finally, we added cultural trips to the centre of Cartagena and the city centre of Alicante as part of the cultural programme of the mobility. Students and teachers enjoyed the best tourist sites of Alicante city centre, a little bit fast (I plead guilty!) since time was short but we tried our best! Finally, we saved the best for last of: Cartagena’s crown jewels: The Roman theatre and the Roman forum. In addition, we had the opportunity to visit the town hall of our city and to be met by the councillor of culture of the city.

On the last day the sky was weeping in anticipation of what would happen hours later when the students said goodbye but before that, it was time to have fun! The students enjoyed the flamenco show and the representation of the members of the Carthaginians and Romans festivities. This whole experience was certainly something they will never forget and that, one day, when they hear the word Cartagena, memories will begin to pop up in their minds and a smile will surely appear on their faces. Just like on ours.

Thank you for this wonderful experience. See you in the next one.