HAND IN HAND: Empowering teachers across Europe to deal with social, emotional and diversity related career challenges
In their profession, teachers need to respond competently and flexibly to day-to-day challenges as they arise. They have to cope with a working environment that is becoming increasingly complex for a variety of reasons, including the increasing diversity in the classrooms. To provide support to teachers across Europe, EU reports and international research identify the following areas of demand:
(1) Teaching in a changing and diverse setting;
(2) Promotion of teacher collaboration;
(3) Supporting teachers’ careers;
(4) Participation, focus and efficiency of continuing professional development;
(5) Addressing the needs identified by the teachers;
(6) Supporting teachers social and emotional competencies.
The project "HAND IN HAND: Empowering teachers across Europe to deal with social, emotional and diversity related career challenges" (short: HAND:ET), funded by ERASMUS+ ("Support for Policy Reform"), is a European project involving 11 partners and 13 associated partners from seven countries (Slovenia, Croatia, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Denmark, and Portugal).
HAND:ET will address the aforementioned areas of demand by developing an innovative, universal programme from March 2021 to February 2024 that aims to promote Social and Emotional Competencies and Diversity Awareness (SEDA) among teachers. Another focus in the programme is on teacher well-being. The aim is to show how the development of SEDA competencies in combination with a mindfulness-based approach can support teachers' self-care.
HAND:ET identifies teachers' SEDA competencies as critical future competencies that will prevent them from leaving the profession early and empower them to plan and pursue their careers, create effective teaching and learning environments, support a positive school climate, and promote their own and their students' well-being. The development of SEDA competencies in teachers is expected to have a positive impact on the development of such skills in students.
The HAND:ET programme follows a holistic model approach and will be implemented as a whole-school-whole-year support system. It consists of a set of innovative participatory activities and learning experiences that – together with regular/continuous supervision, monitoring and support – build the HAND: ET System.
The HAND:ET system includes:
- The HAND:ET programme for teachers, principals and counsellors
- Ongoing supervision and monitoring
- Activities for students to be implemented by teachers and monitored by trainers.
To be able to support and supervise schools, six to nine trainers are trained in each participating country through an extensive Train the Trainer (TTT) programme. The TTT consists of an online MBSR course (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction; duration: 8 weeks) and another six training days, in which the participants deal with SEDA competencies.
The HAND:ET project aims to contribute to the formation of a comprehensive EU teacher policy, addressing contemporary structural challenges of the teaching profession in a long-term and evidence-based way. It will be tested by using a quasi-experimental design with control groups (before/after effects) in five consortium countries (Slovenia, Croatia, Sweden, Austria, Portugal), teachers (primary and lower secondary) being the direct target group. Additionally, principals and school counsellors will be also included. Students will also benefit indirectly via teacher empowerment.
The results of the project will be summarised in guidelines and provide EU- and country-specific recommendations, addressing contemporary structural problems of the teaching profession.
Project Controlling and Administration: Heidi Kinast, MA
Internship/Master thesis: Olaa Hamoud, BA
Nine trainers from the University of Graz are involved in the implementation of the project:
Educational Research Institute, Slovenia (Project Coordination)
Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, Slovenia
Ministry of Science and Education, Croatia
Bildungsdirektion Steiermark, Austria
Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, Austria
Mid Sweden University, Sweden
Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal
Aarhus University, Denmark
Network of Education Policy Centres, International
The kick-off event of the project was held on 9th of April 2021 as an online conference.
A first project meeting was planned for 25th-27th of May 2021 in Ljubljana (Slovenia) and was also held online due to Covid-19 related restrictions. A second project meeting was held from 16th-18th of September 2021 in Graz (Austria) onsite. The next project meeting took place from 16th to 18th of January 2022 in Zagreb.
We would like to refer to an interesting article on the topic of teacher well-being (Hascher & Waber, 2021), which provides a systematic overview of the results on teacher well-being in the period 2000-2019. You can find the full article here.