Critical Reflection Academy: Developing a Long-Term Peer- to-Peer Mentoring Program for Educators & Counselors in the fields of Migration and Employability
Erasmus+: Key Action 2 – Small-scale partnerships in adult education
Project number: 2022-2-DE02-KA210-ADU-000100857
What is critical reflection in the context of this project?
“Critical reflection is the process by which educators systematically analyse and evaluate their teaching practices, beliefs, and values to gain a deeper understanding of their pedagogy and its impact on learners. It involves questioning assumptions, considering diverse perspectives, and exploring ways to enhance teaching effectiveness and learner outcomes, particularly in the context of cultural, social, and emotional aspects of learning.” The idea is not only to make sense of experiences, but to foster transformation and growth, networks of peer support and communities of critical practice. Recognising this, the Critical Reflection Academy project is a cooperation between NfE and migrant-led/focused NGOs to explore the practical implications of critical reflection in an educational setting and engage 25 educators on a long-term program of critical reflection.
About the Working Group:
This activity took place in the early months of the project, and was intended to help ensure that our educational program (a training course and online peer-to-peer reflection program) addresses the specific needs and challenges of educators working in the field of migration. We gathered seven representatives of our partners, including the two non-formal education trainers for this project, for three days in Merkine, Lithuania.
Unpacking the Concept of Critical Reflection
We kicked off our meeting in Merkine, Lithuania, in the setting of Merkine Cultural Center, a center within our partners’ network of 16 centres (Varenos Kulturos Centras, a municipal cultural body).
Also present was:
– Institut für Berufsbildung und Sozialmanagement gemeinnützige GmbH (Project Coordinator), a migration-focused counselling and educational service in Thuringia.
– Eurobug Youth Work Ltd (Migrant-Led Non-Formal Educational NGO)
– CGE Erfurt e.V. (Migrant-led Non-Formal Educational NGO)
Findings from Focus Group Discussions
An integral part of our research was focus group discussions, where we gathered invaluable insights about the application of critical reflection in different educational settings. We discovered a wide range of perspectives on lesson design and delivery, adaptation to target audiences, and the significance of critical reflection in improving the quality of work. Our discussions also revealed an array of methods and migration ideals, alongside the importance of needs analysis and co-design for our educational program. A full research report will be available in the later months of the project.
Mapping the Relevance of Critical Reflection
By brainstorming the relevance of critical reflection to educators and their practices, we unraveled its potential space within our practices. A critical finding was the importance of managing expectations and creating support systems to avoid vicarious trauma. This resonates especially with migrant-background educators working with learners from migration backgrounds. We also learned about the need to reflect on the bigger picture – understanding how our work fits into a broader social context.
Critical Reflection: A Habit to Cultivate
One of the key takeaways from our research was the significance of integrating critical reflection as a habit in educational practices. This doesn’t merely involve the educators’ self-reflection but also encourages learners to critically examine their learning process. Ultimately, we found that celebrating success – recognizing and rewarding the accomplishment of learning goals – is a crucial component of the reflective practice.
In December 2023, we will run a long-term training and critical reflection program, connecting NfE trainers on a peer-to-peer basis. The purpose of Critical Reflection Academy is to support the professional development of educators in working with migrants and/or in an intercultural context and/or on the topic of migration. It will consider how critical reflection can be used to support their needs as educators working on this topic. Following the training course, there will be an online peer-to-peer support group developed that will meet at least 3 times online to put their learning into practice.
As part of the project, a casebook will capture the shared learning and the tools developed and designed by the group through various formats such as reflection essays and creative methods.
Critical Reflection Academy is aimed at educators that:
– are at least 18 years old
– are residents of EU and/or partner countries
– are working with migrants and/or in an intercultural context and/or on the topic of migration
– have experience working in teams
– have done at least 2 group workshops within the last 12 months
– interested in passing on the knowledge gained during this training course to their communities
– have a good conversational use and listening comprehension of English (B1 minimum, B2 preferred)
– are prepared to dedicate enough time to contribute to the entire process, including preparatory meetings before and peer-to-peer online meetings after the training course
Desirable, but not required
– are interest in contributing to the casebook which is being developed as part of the training.
The call for participants will be released in June 2023, early interest can be sent to Nesirky@CGE-Erfurt.org