It was the first time EFTRE offered this kind of online event – and it was a huge success. More participants than expected logged into zoom to focus on “Teaching RE in the times of Covid” – a challenge that faces RE teachers all over Europe.
After a warm welcome from EFTRE chair Lesley Prior from London, Bert Roebben from Leuven in Belgium shared his ideas on this theme. In his keynote, Bert reflected on how corona has changed provisions and visions of RE in schools in Europe. He emphasised that we all are navigating on “shifting grounds” and therefore need to re-envision RE within this process. In this context, he not only drew attention to our interactions with pupils – whether that might be face to face or in the digital classroom – but also to the self-understanding of RE teachers. According to Bert, teachers also need to reflect on their own identities and on how they can accompany and support their pupils as they negotiate these “shifting grounds”.
After a short exchange in small groups via breakout sessions, the participants came back together to listen to the second input, this time contributed by Sonja Danner from Vienna, Austria. She gave examples on how to start a conversation with students about their experiences during the corona crisis. From a practical point of view, she shared methods in which ways she uses an approach involving humorous cartoons and other images to “break the ice”. These examples put everyone in a good mood for a second round of exchange via breakout sessions.
In the end, the up to 50 colleagues from around 14 countries agreed: this was a great opportunity to connect and exchange but way too short! The EFTRE executive promised to look into how to organise similar events on a more regular basis. So, EFTRE hopes to see you soon in another Zoom seminar!