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Insight into the DREAMS method: students reflect, open up and talk about themselves

A teacher from ICCG (Italy) shares her experience with the DREAMS piloting:

The best part of the piloting was the reflection time that followed all the activities. Each particular step foresaw a recap at the end and a reflection on our behaviour, reactions, on what we felt. I believe this was the most significative moment because it allowed us to share our point of views. The most difficult part of the piloting was to stick with the schedule. Not always it was easy to respect the rhythm we decided to follow. Sometimes we would have liked to have more time, for example when students were excited, to replicate the acts, to add more details, or when they started to open up and they wanted to say something more about themselves. Sometimes we reshaped the plan and sometimes it was not possible, also because we were pressured by the uncertainty of the e-learning. We wanted to finish the process before a possible closure of the school (due to the Covid-19 emergency). This made the process more complex. What did I learn? I learned that we must not have preconceived ideas toward our students, we do not have to judge them by their first behaviours. I did not previously know some of the students, but some of them seemed shallow, less careful or lazy, or they laughed too much without a real reason. It was easy to label them as “shallow”. However, moving on with the Trip, the students calmed down and they felt welcomed, respected and they changed some of their attitudes, becoming more serious, thoughtful, careful in doing the activities. They were keen to do them right, and they respected the timing. Also, those who were more silent and introvert, that with a quick judgment could seem superficial or empty, actually, they were not. Inside them there was, and there is, a world made of fears, experiences and dreams that usually they do not share with teachers, or adults in general. A less formal context, instead of the usual classroom with the more classic school activities, allowed to build a relation between teachers and students. They felt welcomed and accepted, and this favoured an increased dialogue and a confrontation, and therefore an opening from their side. At this point, what would I suggest to those who want to start this Trip? I recommend to let go a little of the role of teacher, and to be a competent and attentive facilitator, who carefully organize the activities, because students need certainties. They need to understand what they are doing and why they are doing these things. They need to see that we ourselves believe in what we are doing. So, assume the role of facilitator in the most precise way. But also, take on the role of travelling companion, no longer the teacher who stay always there to teach something or to reproach, or to ask the formality in his relation with the student. The teacher must become a companion who walk with the students, that respect them and make them feel loved and welcomed, regardless of any result.