The EWC project Preparing Future Teachers in the Western Balkans is conducting a pilot project to support mentoring of teacher students in North Macedonia.
The pilot project (QUAMEN) consists of a series of workshops for mentors of teacher students. The process is linked to the development of new curricula in teacher training faculties. Recommendations from the pilot will be presented to the educational authorities and other stakeholders in North Macedonia in January 2022.
The Republic of Northern Macedonia is currently undergoing intensive education reform. Even though the focus is mainly on curriculum changes, it is of high importance for the educational system as a whole, to analyze teacher training, especially when it comes to implementing practical teaching into the initial teacher training programs.
The faculties of teacher education are organizing practical work each semester, but the number of schools that accept teacher students is small, and there is a limited number of trained teacher mentors.
“The lack of sufficient opportunities for practice work for teacher students leaves them with little or no preparation on how to deal with real life challenges that can arise in the classroom, including those related to diversity, ethnicity, heterogeneity”, Bojana Dujkovic, EWC Regional Project Coordinator said.
“Thus, many young people do not necessarily emerge from the education system with the competences they need”, she added.
Supporting future teachers in their practice work is the key to success. To do so, classroom teachers need to receive a specific training to fulfill the role of a mentor. For the moment, there is no mentor training which could provide opportunities for gaining knowledge and skills on how to support and monitor prospective and young teachers through classroom observation and professional feedback. The EWC project “Preparing Future Teachers in the Western Balkans” has proven that a practice-oriented approach to teaching and learning – fills this gap in teacher education.
The pilot will be led by a group of professors from the Faculty of Pedagogy “St. Kliment Ohridski ”, prof. Dr. Vesna Makashevska, prof. Dr. Lulzim Ademi and prof. Dr. Maja Raunik Kirkov, together with prof. Rolf Gollob from the Zurich University of Teacher Education, Switzerland. Together they aim to develop a well-tested system of mentoring for the Republic of North Macedonia and to prepare a clear structured and experience-based proposal for a national mentoring system. The team is also supported by professors form the Faculty of Natural Sciences – ass. prof. Marina Stojanovska, ass. prof. Valentina Gogovska and ass. prof. Katerina Rusevska.
The pilot project includes 80 participants:
- 24 school mentors will be trained through a new practice-oriented training program, teaching for the promotion of democracy, human rights and inclusion. The training will be based on the new manual for mentors.
- 72 students – future teachers will be supported in their practical work by newly trained mentors. 10 pilot schools will introduce a new approach to mentoring.
In the future, the University plans to establish a Center for Competencies towards the development of a mentoring system at the Faculty of Pedagogy “St. Kliment Ohridski ”.