Interview with João Dias from ARCIL on latest challenges and achievements in the SMILE Project


 

What are the main challenges you faced during the past year?

     After the Training of Trainer, the self-assessment of the schools and the preparation of the Action Plans, the teams from the schools were highly motivated to implement the suggested activities. Unfortunately, the quarantine period due to the pandemic circumstances, made it impossible to implement part of the activities and required changes in others.

     For ARCIL's team, the main challenge was to keep the motivation of the participants high, in order to move on with the implementation of the Action Plans in parallel to all the activities and adaptations required during the school closure time.

 What was your approach towards them? Did you (if yes, how) manage to turn them into opportunities?

     As we understood ARCIL's team was struggling with difficulties in the implementation of the project under the current circumstances, a consulting session with ELA's team of SMILE professionals was very useful to reflect about the next logical steps and new strategies to overcome the barriers that we were facing. From this meeting emerged the idea of having an inter-schools meeting to present the Action Plans and reflect about the work already developed within the SMILE project. This idea was presented to the school cluster's director and readily accepted and the meeting implemented online, as explicit in the attached pictures.

     After the inter-schools online meeting, the teams were again more mobilized to move on with the implementation of activities from the action plans, starting with a training session about the training method for pupils with language disorders and a workshop about best practices in the promotion of Emergent Literacy skills. 

     The dissemination of the project was also reinforced and the SMILE approach was presented within a national meeting of Centers of Resources for Inclusion within the HUMANITAS associated organizations. From May until now, there have been e-mail exchanges about the possibility of promoting a national training following the SMILE approach in order to persuade other organizations to use this evidence-based best practice.

     Other activities have been developing  with the schools, namely the:

-preparation of materials for dialogue sessions with parents, school assistants and teachers;

-compilation of evaluation and screening tools to early identify reading and writing difficulties;

-implementation of a screening program regarding reading and writing in the first two school years;

-accreditation and implementation of a training course for teachers (6 hours) about using UDL to improve teaching practices around literacy;

-implementation of a phonological awareness workshop with students and teachers from the first and second school year.

 

 

What are the main achievements in the project during 2020, give some examples? 

     Beside what has already been described, the main achievement were the reinforcement of the partnership between ARCIL, the schools and the Municipality and the creativity to find new solutions and methodologies to make the project work.

 

João Dias

Diretor Técnico de Reabilitação

ARCIL

 

The Smile Project is