Our local activity took place in Narva, a mostly Russian-speaking city in Estonia. We chose this location because we wanted to address two problems: 1) teachers and youth workers don’t cooperate as much as they could in the Estonian education system and 2) preventing polarization in multilingual learning spaces. Our aim was to help youth workers and teachers learn new methods for preventing polarization in multilingual learning environments.
We organized a training day with 4 sessions. We had an open call for it and it was held in the University of Tartu Narva college which specializes in educating youth workers, social workers and teachers. The college also has a special programme for teachers working in multilingual classrooms. Altogether we had 9 participants from ages 21 to 55, both youth workers and teachers from the local area. All the participants were from multilingual schools or youth centers. The working language of the training day was Estonian, which was also a challenge because most of the participants were from a Russian-speaking community.
Practices used during the training day were mostly ice-breakers and interactive methods, tackling polarizing everyday problems. The day started with a theoretical background on learning styles. Polarizing everyday problems and learning styles were the two core topics for the whole training day, meaning that each session and activity focused on something specific regarding the main topics.
The second session focused on self-evaluation. The participants had to take a closer look at themselves, their values, learning methods, teaching methods and communication skills. Third session concentrated on powerful questions and how to remain in a neutral position. Participants learned how not to give out an opinion, but help young people come up with solutions themselves by self-analyzation and self-reflection. The final session concluded the day and gave the participants the opportunity to use all the new methods, focusing on role play and active learning.
As concluded by the participants, the methods were very useful and easily adaptable into their everyday work in the classroom and youth centers. The topics were a good opportunity for the participants to renew knowledge they had obtained in their lifetime and studies. All in all, we were very happy with the outcomes. The methods were effective and will hopefully help prevent polarising problems in the environments of the participants.