Sunday, 28 May 2017

6th Transnational Project Meeting, 5th Joint Staff Training Event and 3rd Pupils' Exchange

On the (unusually sunny) first week of May, the 6th Transnational Project meeting was hosted by Viltis Progymnasium in Panevėžys, Lithuania, involving 22 teachers and 15 students from the partner countries.
Visiting students and teachers were treated to an exciting display of Lithuanian traditional dancing and music, before a welcome from school Director Danutė Valiukienė and a brief introduction to the project from Dr Claudia Sabatano. Every visitor also received a miniature birdbox (made by the Lithuanian students) and I expect these are now on display in homes across Europe!
Over the course of the week, students stayed with families of students from Viltis Progymnasium and took part in their buddy’s classes and social life. As part of the METAMINDS programme, students did activities to develop their cognitive self-assessment, discussed emotions in school and produced a collaborative artwork using colours and emotions. As well as learning about Lithuanian school life, tasting Lithuanian food and learning some “survival” Lithuanian, students made many international friends and were sad to say goodbye! 
Of course, our visiting teachers didn’t miss out! Several professional development workshops were held based around metacognition, including a seminar on reflection, led by Audronė Tichanavičienė, and a workshop on mind maps led by Asta Sakalienė (recognised as one of the top five teachers in Lithuania!). All teachers also attended Claudia Sabatano’s conference on conflict, observed several lessons in Viltis Progymnasium, and played leadership education games with students.
The scientific committee continued developing the training materials for the online teacher protocol and discussed feedback from teachers and students on metacognitive strategies. Work also began in earnest on the tasks that will form the pupil protocol and it was discussed how the project is expected to take shape over the final year.
On the final night in Panevėžys, Viltis Progymnasium hosted a public event as part of the dissemination of the METAMINDS project. Visiting teachers and students were able to show off some Lithuanian language, music and dance skills that they had learnt during the week, accompanied by the very talented students and staff of Viltis! Before the official speeches, each of the partner countries described their school and the aims and progress of the METAMINDS project was shared by Claudia Sabatano and Monica Melloni.
Few of us had been to Lithuania previously, but this trip taught us a lot about the beautiful art, delicious food and turbulent history of this intriguing country (not to mention all the dancing!). On a visit to Anykščiai, we visited a Horse Museum, made traditional bread and saw the work of local artisans, including a weaver, blacksmith and wood carver. On our final full day, we visited the picturesque villages of Kernavė and Trakai, and had a guided tour of the capital, Vilnius, including sights such as the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace and the artists’ Republic of Užupis.
All visitors are grateful to Jolanta and the Lithuanian students, families and staff (Eglė, Jolita, Vilma, Rasa and the others) for being excellent hosts and for teaching us about their country. The next mobility is Portugal – see you there!

Written by Rachel Blackmore

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