The “Ismail Qemali” School is one of the largest schools in Prishtina, with over 1000 students. It is a type of Primary and Lower Secondary school, including educational level of pre-school (5 year old children), primary (1-5) and lower secondary (6-9) classes. There are more than 10 children identified with some type of learning difficulty, attending the regular education classes in the school. Three teachers with special pedagogy are employed to support the children and teachers in the inclusive education, particularly planning and implementation of individual education plans for the children with learning difficulties.
The CTPS techniques of the 21st Century Schools program were considerably implemented by teachers in various subjects. Teachers mentioned techniques such as six hats, Costa Taxonomy, problem tree, three-level questions, Micro:bit, and debate, which they adapted to different teaching activities of individual subjects. They stressed that these techniques promote more interactive collaboration among children themselves, and between teachers and children. They emphasized the way this techniques are instrumentalizing learning by taking different roles in the learning process.
“Children felt more free and equal to engage and discuss in such activities”,
- a teacher of physics.
Another teacher noted how using the debate in the teaching process made children feel equal.
“The use of debate made children argue with facts, and eliminated the differences they saw to each other”.
- a teacher
This situation was obvious to increase the children self-confidence, because they were given the same space and tasks as the others. Teachers mentioned that children with learning difficulties were active to some extend during these activities. The techniques, particularly the six hats, and Micro:bit, stimulated those children to be more active in groups, although their role in the group and in the tasks were less challenging. However, there was no indication whether academic performance of those children improved as a result of implementation of the CTPS activities. In addition, the observations of the Assistant Teacher indicate that children with special needs were more attracted by and motivated from participation into CTPS activities..
On the other side, the interviewed parents (three parents of children with learning difficulties that attend the school), seem not to be familiar with the program. They did not confirm whether they ever heard about the programme. This might have been due to the time distance as programme was implemented more than a year and a half prior to the interview and disrupted during the last year because of Covid-19 pandemic. Parents mentioned that they were happy with the school approach to include their children in education, however the situation with pandemics have been a real challenge for them, since those children could not catch up with online classes.
The feedback from the interviewed schoolchildren reveals other issues that they are experiencing in the learning process in the school. They said that children with special needs are mainly engaged in the learning activities, though with difficulties, but that teachers are trying to support their learning.
“It depends a lot on how the teachers approach those children in the class, and then how much those children are engaged and motivated”,
- a student from seventh grade.
That implies the way teachers adopt their teaching approach to children with special needs means a lot on the level of those children engagement in the learning process. “Sometimes teachers make critics, and that makes children with learning difficulties more emotionally sensitive and more difficult to focus”, emphasized another student from the eighth grade.