STAIRWAYS TO TRAINERS
The training course ‘Stairways to Trainers’ was held in a village called Viljandimaa which is situated in Estonia. The participants came from Estonia, Sweden, Romania, Greece, Czech Republic, Spain, Poland, Latvia, North Macedonia, France, Hungary, and Italy.
The core educational purpose of the course was to empower and build up the competences of youth workers to design, facilitate, and evaluate meaningful educational activities. By learning practical methods and tools for designing, facilitating and assessing educational activities, participants were enabled to put theory into practice.
The importance of experiential learning was highlighted during the project. The process of learning new competences as a trainer was achieved as a result of the transformation of experiences into knowledge. In other words, during the course participants were able to experience an activity, reflect on it, conceptualize the theories underlying it and then apply these theories into practice.
Among the methods introduced and used to enhance youth work and build activities were brainstorming, mind map, case studies, simulations, world café, Oxford debate, presentation, penguin game, silent presentation or reflection, learning hat, diaries, video CV, gamification, and Land Art. It was also mentioned that the choice of a particular method depends on factors such as the target group, the educator, frame conditions (time, space, materials, infrastructure), institutions in charge, sequence, and aims of the activity to be held.
Debriefing and provision of feedback were of major importance during the course. Specifically, the debriefing stage was said to be held for at least 15 minutes after an activity and the provision of feedback, which should be regarded and taken as a gift, was suggested that it should focus on the behaviour that we believe that can be changed.
Participants were also lucky enough to delve into Estonian culture. During the famous White Nights of Estonia when summer days extend long into night and there is barely any darkness, participants were invited to experience Estonia like true locals and have a barbeque, go into a sauna, swim in the river, and dance around a bonfire so that any sleep temptation would be fought off.
All in all, this training course has been a once in a lifetime experience which enabled participants to practice their skills, build up new competences, explore different cultures, and make unforgettable memories.