After finishing our egg covered pizza topped with ketchup in a smoke filled restaurant and walking to our car parked on the sidewalk, we headed to the grocery store, carefully avoiding the stray dogs on the way. Upon arriving at Konzum, we inserted a coin to get a cart and proceeded to fill it with lamb heads and fry sauce. But before we left the store I had to use the squatty potty. Once we arrived home we removed our shoes, put on our papuće and drank a glass of yogurt. Well, that's not exactly how the day went, but it certainly could have been! We love Bosnia and apparently many of you love hearing about our adventures. Denny's blog post last week hit an all time high 1400 views!
While my post this week may not be quite as entertaining, I hope you will enjoy a glimpse into one of our most significant projects. I've written a bit previously about our project to "teach the teachers", so I'm just going to do a quick overview if you missed what it's all about. We have partnered with an organization called EDUS - Education for All and have sponsored the first of two three day workshops filled with training on how to assess current skills, establish individual learning goals and implement a systematic program to achieve maximum success for children with disabilities. The workshops were a huge success and educators and therapist left the workshop full of new ideas, motivated and hopeful. Hopeful of offering higher quality education and therapy to those they work with. Hopeful to make a difference in the lives of the children they love.
|She's very focused on getting that star in just|
the right place as part of her assessment.
The next phase of this project was to do initial assessments of all the children who will take part in this project. These initial assessments will help us measure the outcomes of this project in the future. All children were given one of two assessments, depending on their cognitive age. Some of the educators/therapists had attended the training and knew how to perform the assessments, while we assisted others who had not attended the training in the execution. It was both a rewarding and an exhausting two weeks as we traveled to 8 different cities, met with 30+ educators and evaluated nearly 80 children. We will then do final assessments on the same children again at the end of the year and compare the skill acquisition of the children who worked with an EDUS trained educator and those whose teachers had not attended the training. Then in January, the second EDUS training workshop will be offered to those who did not attend in August so we will have offered training to all ten centers who are participating in this project.
|We were thrilled to see the enthusiasm of the staff of Los Rosales|
who attended the EDUS training as they gave an overview
of what they had learned to other staff members.
|She was very focused on her Lego tower as her teacher watched.|
It was very hard for parents and teachers to just allow the child
to do whatever they could and not jump in and help them!
through the many tasks and finding the right materials for each skill. While I was doing the actual assessment with the teachers and children, Denny was organizing the materials and had them ready as we began each new task. It was definitely a team effort! The hardest part for both the educators and the parents was to remember this was an initial assessment and they could not assist the child or prompt them beyond what was dictated in the assessment guidelines. I even had to gently remind our eager translators not to help a time or two. Everyone wants to see the children succeed, including me, but that was not the goal of the assessments. We just needed to find the children's starting point. But we finished all the assessments, made some new friends and figured out how to be better organized for the next day!
|It was so fun to watch the staff at Mala Sirena work with|
their students. This little guy thought everything was great fun!
|The assessments also measured some gross motor skills like|
catching, throwing and kicking a ball. It was a nice break from sitting
at the table doing cognitive assessment skills.
|He was a little worried by strange faces in the room...|
can't blame him knowing whose faces they were!
|We did assessments on children of various ages between 3-10.|
He's verbally identifying pictures here.
|This was one of my favorite parts of the assessments. They were|
asked to sing and do movements at the same time.. such as
"If you're happy and you know it clap your hands" I loved
hearing her voice as she sang several verses with great exuberance.
|Identifying matching pictures was one of the skills measured.|
|Here he is doing verbal letter identification. In addition to the|
Latin alphabet, we will also be supplying some centers in certain
areas of Bosnia with Cyrillic alphabet cards as well.
|It was very interesting listening to the children identify objects.|
Many of them knew their colors, shapes and animals in English
better than they did in Bosnian from watching television!
Instead of "krava" they would just say "cow"!
|Mom (with red hair) smiling as she watches her son.Her love|
for him was so evident as she applauded each accomplished task.
|Their is no greater joy than the love of a parent.|
As a side note, below is a link to an article discussing the ongoing issues of special education in Bosnia. EDUS has done so much for promoting special education and early intervention in Bosnia, yet both EDUS and parents fight a continual battle. It seems that it is a constant game of one step forward, two steps back. This year, the city withdrew some of the support that they had been giving in the past. This is a great tragedy for these children. This article explains what is happening currently in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and the most advanced educational system in the country. It truly is a sad situation and one that is very difficult to understand coming from a country that upholds laws regarding educational rights for all children. EDUS - Where's my School?