There were 130 participants of the meeting – directors of schools taking part in various program initiatives such as Total School Development, “LES” Club, and “LES” Lab. Present were also students and alumni of Postgraduate Courses for Education Leaders, and the “LES” Program Team – coordinators, experts, coaches, and program consultants. The conference was an opportunity to share experiences and present activities performed at schools.
The host of the event was Aleksandra Cupok-Kokoszka, the vice director of No 2 Elementary School in Świętochłowice, who opened the conference together with Sylwia Żmijewska-Kwiręg, the Head of the “Learning Schools” program, and Jędrzej Witkowski, the Center for Citizenship Education Foundation President.
The main theme was broadly conceived empathy. The participants took part in workshop sessions on empathic leadership in their schools. They debated on how they can use the empathic attitude in their work with students, in teaching staff management, as well as in contacts with parents.
The key element of the Summer School was a lecture on How to Support Students in Dealing with the Stress given by Prof. Jon Hakoon Schultz of Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies. Referring to the results of research studies, the Professor presented the situation of children in the state of crisis and pointed to the importance of the role played by adults in reducing the children’s fears and stress.
The participants of the School of Opportunities panel moderated by Aleksandra Kluj, the School for Directors coordinator, spoke about changes introduced at schools. They explained how tripartite meetings of students, teachers, and parents shall be organized instead of traditional parent-teacher conferences; why it is worth appreciating students, and how to award all students with honors; they argued that school can exist without the bells signaling the beginning and the end of lessons, and that changes shall be introduced, even if sometimes they aren’t initially welcomed.
The last item at the conference agenda was the lecture given by Prof. Marcin Napiórkowski who persuaded the audience that school will not respond effectively to modern world challenges if better stories on education aren’t told. “For a long time, there was nothing that gave me as much hope and optimism in the area of education as that view of school directors full of ideas, experimenting, brave, openly speaking about their successes and failures,” he concluded his lecture.
The meeting was summed up by Polish-American Freedom Foundation Program Director Marianna Hajdukiewicz who thanked the participants for the whole year of hard work and for inspiring sharing of experiences on challenges faced by schools and their directors.
“What an amazing event!”, “New contents, well thought out opinions, good energy!”, “Meeting of good friends”, “Again we felt well looked after” – that is how the participants of the Summer School for Directors 2023 assessed the event.