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The University Libre de Bruxelles hosted the first community of practice of UNI-T dedicated to Actives Pedagogies.

This thematic respond to a growing need to assure students autonomy and allow them to be the actors of their education, especially in secondary schools. Despite efforts to make school a place where students are protagonists and active and despite some positive individual outcomes, overall results have not always been satisfactory and this project still has many difficulties to overcome.

Hence, the idea was to gather professionals with various profiles (teachers, experts, trainers) interested by this question in order to reflect on researches, hypotheses and obstacles for active pedagogies implementation.

The aim of this first community of practice was, linked to the objective of the UNI-T Academy project, to share different points of view at a European scale.

It was with this in mind that the first online workshop was held on March 29th 2023 bringing together no fewer than 150 people, demonstrating the shared interest in active pedagogies.

This first workshop gathered professionals from France, Belgium, Italy, Germany and Greece to discussed around several themes such as student autonomy, their relationship with adult but also interdisciplinarity.

From these exchanges, various conclusions were reached.

The participants agreed on the necessity to assure the student autonomy “as a fundamental objective of active teaching” by supporting and encouraging their development and participation. Beyond this aspect, during their discussions, they reaffirmed the importance of student-teacher relationship which need to be based on trust, respective and collaboration in a healthy environment.

Concerning interdisciplinarity, experts, teachers and trainers said that the students need to have an active role in the learning experience and the creation of a motivating learning environment tends to be more and more important.

After this first encounter, the second event of this community of practice took place in Brussels for a three-day workshop in May 2023. At this occasion, at least two members of each UNI-T partners institution were present. The objective of this face-to-face meeting was for the participants to learn more about Active Pedagogies, particularly for people who were not familiar with the subject at the outset.

For others, this face-to-face event constituted an opportunity to get immersed in an English-speaking environment with people coming from different horizons of Europe, different accents and mother tongue. Therefore, this encounter was also a multicultural experience as all the participants had to expressed themselves in a different language that their own language.

The first day, the group went to the Ecole Decroly, in Uccle, an institution in terms of active pedagogies. They had the opportunity to discover the school system, its pedagogy, the organisation of their program and their relation with technology…They also observed a class and discussed with members of the teaching staff. This visit was a perfect occasion for the participants to compare this new pedagogical system and their own.

The afternoon of this same day took place at the Université Libre de Bruxelles with the presence of Bernard Rey, professor emeritus of ULB.  The moment of exchange allows the participant from the UNI-T partners institution to share and discussed on the thematic and reflect on its implementation in our European school system.

On the second day, the partners and teachers from Belgian schools visited an “active school”. They had the opportunity to be in immersion in a class discovering the several activities setting up. This visit, more than a working activity, has constituted a time to exchange between the visitors and the pupils. The partners have discovered the system and the several methods used by the teachers. Being confronted to a new environment have allowed once again those teachers to reflect and compare their way of working and the differences between their school system and the system of this school.

For the final day, a visit in the Integral Roger Lallemand high school in Brussels was organized, a high school inspired by social activism and transdisciplinarity. This young school gathers students from different social group and is organized in three pedagogical specific times: courses, group activity and workshop. The partners discovered a school centred on autonomy, personal development, sharing, listening to pupils’ wishes and building links between teachers and pupils.

Through those three days of meeting, experience sharing and learning, the partners have discovered new methods, new perspectives and a new vision of schools, of teaching and a new vision of the relation teachers- pupils. They ended this experience in Belgium with new ideas and new ways of thinking.

The third session of this community of practice was held on June 9th 2023, during an online session which allowed the participants of the two previous sessions to share their impression and feelings on this first community of practice in Belgium.

For the majority, the training was “excellent and well worth the time spent” and thanks to this three-part event they have acquired new knowledge which they will be able to put into practice in their respective countries and functions. The fact that the group was made up of education professionals helped to establish a climate of trust between the participants, who felt free to share and exchange views on a variety of topics related to their work.

This first community of practice reaffirmed the need for professionals to meet more often to exchange ideas, reflect together and compare points of view on topics such as active pedagogies. For some teachers, such a meeting helps to arouse a “new interest” in subjects not enough tackled in research, and thus creates “new research perspectives”. For the future, it would be interesting to follow the development of the practices discovered during this community of practice and to continue critical research about active pedagogies in secondary schools and the documentation in this field.

See below a video recounting this Community of Practice organized by the Université Libre de Bruxelles.

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