Skolotāji no Horvātijas


October 10 – October 14, 2016

The whole experience of a mobility, funded by the Erasmus+ program and my first mobility of this kind, actually started on October 8, 2016 when I arrived to Riga. Riga did not greet me well, though J – it was cold and rainy…

I liked e-Klase and I realized that our e-Dnevnik is too simple. Your system has more options and is more informative for parents. That is something I won’t be able to change, unfortunately.

Here are some facts about your school that were surprising, in a good way:

  • You start with marks 1 – 10 from the third grade – with us it’s different, we start from the second half of the first grade
  • Classes last 40 minutes – ours are 45 min
  • Breaks between classes are longer than at my school (I wish we had longer breaks)
  • There is a nurse at your school
  • Classes take place in 2 buildings (understandable due to the total number of students) – but I was surprised the government let you have a school in a building that wasn’t supposed to be a school in the first place (I’m not sure that would even be possible here, even though some buildings in Croatia stand unused for years, which is crazy.)
  • Your students are very well-mannered and polite – this gave me a comparison point to realize that our students are not as behaved as we thought
  • Besides being the headmistress of your school, you also teach – this is not the case in Croatian schools. However, I talked to my boss about that and she said it used to be like that here a long time ago, then the government changed the law. Now headmasters work full time as headmaster only.
  • Even though you have two assistants, I could see that most of the organizing and coordinating was your responsibility and you handle it well
  • You do a lot – regular classes, being a headmistress, going to seminars, being involved in Erasmus+ projects, hosting teachers like me at your school! I was always under the impression that all headmasters, at least from my experience, have hectic days – every day! But you kept your cool!
  • I admire your will for further professional enhancement – be it ICT courses or working on your English
  • Another thing that I noticed is the financing. You told me the state pays for the students’ books and food (until grade 4). They also pay for teachers’ supplies and working materials. This sounds like heaven to me – we always struggle with paper, toner, whiteboard markers, not to tell you how many children can’t afford to eat at the school canteen.
  • I liked the fact that you encourage young students to serve themselves (from the bowls that are already on the tables) with a little help from their class teacher. This is not common in Croatian schools. Students get a tray with all they need for that meal and they go sit down and eat.
  • A real surprise was the fact that teachers don’t have special materials for students with learning disabilities or talented students (I understand they work individually with them during consultation time).
  • I liked the idea that you have a dress code for students for certain ceremonies.
  • Your classrooms are well-equipped and technologically up-to-date. We have only a couple of smartboards and overhead projectors and laptops.
  • I liked how Ilona uses tablets and interactive board for class. I spoke to my headmistress about it and she said the next step is getting Internet into every classroom and then considering installing interactive boards. Ilona showed me several applications and how to use them.
  • I liked how all students are asked to stand in the first part of the class (2-3 min) while they repeat something from the class before. I started practicing this with some of my classes and I have to say it works! Big like!
  • Watching 5 mentors working with students gave me a perspective for my own professional framework. I came to realize that I use very similar methods in teaching young learners (grades 1 to 4), like flashcards, crossword puzzles, point, touch, listen and repeat, TPR, etc. I liked Ilona’s classes very much because I could see how students react to technology in class and how it can be used for utilizing grammar structures.
  • I liked that you have report books where students write what’s for homework. However, I’m worried our students would lose that notebook too as they tend to lose books and forget homework often.
  • I liked that your teachers encourage students to explore ideas and analyze them.  This is something Croatia still has to work on…
  • Students were somewhat shy, but a couple of them (especially Baiba’s students) were very inquisitive and asked me all kinds of questions, which I gladly answered!

Now let me say a couple of words about Liepaja…

Liepaja proved to be a beautiful sea town. My favorite part is the beach where I took some amazing photos… The sunsets are beautiful!

I also went to the canal and to see Great Amber. I enjoyed our trip to Karosta and the fortifications (got some great photos from there too).

Saturday afternoon I got to spend in Riga, which wowed me! I explored the park, Bastion Hill, took a boat ride on the river Daugava, saw the monument of Freedom, churches, The Three Brothers, Blackhead.

And finally, here are some of the words I learned in Latvian (maybe the spelling is not correct):

iela, upe, niedra, brokastis, labdien, labrit, balls, zale, anglu valoda, abol, paldies, soma, packanj, muita, spelet, gramata, bruna krasa, izeja, drebes, skolataja, sakumskola, naksts, diena

Thank you for everything!