Teachers and students out of their comfort zone in Málaga
In November 2021, 30 students and 14 teachers from 6 different European schools participated in the Málaga Business Bootcamp organised by JongLeren.es.
The VET schools Landstede Groep and ROC Midden Nederland from The Netherland, OSAO from Finland, Køge Handelsskole from Denmark, C.I.O.F.S.-F.P. from Italy and Santa Maria de los Angeles from Spain together with JongLeren.es are in a KA2 partnership. The objective of the partnership is to raise the awareness for the need of excellent education and change the attitudes of teachers towards this subject. During the project, teachers will learn about skills and competences for organising and teaching excellent education, such as the learning pit (James Notthingham), growth mindset (Carrol Dweck), creative thinking and more.
Málaga Business Bootcamp
The unique part of Málaga Business Bootcamp is that students work in a multidisciplinary international team on a challenge for a local business. The students are put into the position where they have to take the responsibility as project owner and the teachers are challenged to ‘sit on their hands’ and witness the process. During the process the students are challenged to use their professional and personal skills to the utmost of their ability, and the teachers focus on coaching and teaching when a situation requires more knowledge or skills. The supervising in the bootcamp is completely process focussed which sometimes makes it hard for both student and teacher.
The first day of the bootcamp the students meet with a business owner that presents the business and the challenges that it is facing. Together with the students a goal will be set that shall be achieved at the end of the second week. After that the students prepare a plan of action and that’s where the learning process starts to develop. Some students immediately know what to do, others haven’t got a clue. Most teachers prefer to give the students a format of how to set up a plan of approach, but the coaches of JongLeren.es stimulate them to figure it out themselves. The students decide on how they want to do it and after presenting their plan to the entrepreneur they get feedback on their approach. Sometimes the entrepreneurs are impressed, sometimes disappointed, and the feedback the students then get, makes them realize they could have done things differently, or that they should have asked for help, should have dug into the internet to get some more information, etc. That’s what Málaga Business Bootcamp is about; the students take responsibility, learn while doing and the teachers must trust in the capabilities of the students and add value only during those moments when the students are stuck.
The final presentations on the last day of the bootcamp were impressive and the entrepreneurs were very happy with the outcome. “Wow, what an impressive performance and productivity you have delivered” Helene Mostertman (owner restaurant Vino Mio). The students had to come up with a marketing plan to create more brand awareness of the restaurant with the local Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Italian and Spanish communities. The students did secondary and primary research and produced a clear action plan for the business that illustrates through which channels and in which ways it can effectively approach the desired target groups. They also arranged an article in a glossy magazine.
Effect on the students and teachers
After the project both students and teachers were on cloud nine. The students were particularly satisfied with the positive feedback that they had been given and to see their efforts being awarded and implemented by the companies. When asked to reflect on the learning outcome the answers were very diverse:
· “I got out of my comfort zone, I can speak English better now and I made so many friends”
· “Being more self-dependent, more opened talking about social skills and lot of Spanish”
· “I learned a lot of Spanish classes. I can often understand the Spanish people!! Also, if you have the right people around you than you as a person can be so strong in everything you are doing. And to collaborate with your team is key!” Several students have shared their experience on the website of Málaga Business Bootcamp.
The teachers of course were proud of their students. However, the experience that they themselves had, was probably more impactful. Anu Pokela describes it as follows:
“I regard myself as adaptable and flexible person but being here in this project has taught me that I’m out of my comfort zone, I miss more structure and guidelines how to work. It is a good reminder for me how my students are feeling. Thank you for pushing me to the edge and giving me the opportunity to personal growth. I’m also very grateful for all the people that I have met here, amazing teachers that I now regard as my friends. Great discussions we had in the evening.”
Both teachers and students have experienced the international context as an incredible added value. The cultural and language barriers made students and teachers open to each other and look for similarities. In despite of the different school systems, the will to develop is strong and therefore the behaviour of excellent students doesn’t differ that much per country. The approach in how to work with them does.
The partnership will continue to show each other ways of working with motivated students. In April 2022 delegations of both teachers and students of all schools will travel to Finland to participate in a Skills Heroes contest. During the contest teachers and students will be immersed in working in a competitive environment.
In the autumn of 2022 Dutch schools Landstede Groep and ROC Midden Nederland will organise workshops for teachers and directors of all participating schools to explore even more conventional and unconventional working methods that could lift the bar for highly motivated students.
So far, the harvest of the collaboration has been abundant and the wish to continue the partnership is vivid.