The answer of Portuguese teachers to educational COVID-19 crisis… we are already 21,000!

“At a time like this we need to be united, calmy and share all possible support to all colleagues.”

e-Learning – apoio

On March 13th, the world was already experiencing the nightmare caused by something tiny and invisible and that was going around the world. On that day, the Portuguese authorities ensured the continuity of having open schools and the prospect of teachers continuing to work with their students in the classroom. It was Thursday, at the end of the day, everything changed. In a communication to the nation, the temporary closure of all educational establishments is announced. Between certain measures and words of courage and hope, students and teachers were advised that this does not mean “you are on vacation”. Despite possible interpretations of this context, it is not the objective of this text to address this issue.

During the weekend after the announcement, the nightmare began for the teachers. Some who are more comfortable than others in the use of technologies, were asked that everything needed to change. Everyone would start remote working, within a distance. This proved to be a terror for many. We began to hear complaints from parents for over-sending tasks and homework, the impossibility of being able to combine their working lives with their children’s work and others with limitations in access to technology. The teachers tried everything, because they were asked for a herculean effort, to change their praxis. Many without recourses to technology, others for not being in favour of this implementation in the school context and many others who have always believed in this power and the support they could give.

But that’s how it is. The teachers were asked to change. They rolled up their sleeves and got started and searched and… many bumped into difficulties. Something was missing, someone who could help them. From this perspective and within the educational panorama, three teachers had a brilliant idea by designing a project to support teachers on Facebook. They built a work team and embraced the challenge to “help each other”. They are teachers of a private school who could ignore the agony of public education who are more unprotected at the technological level. But instead, these three teachers, Ana Paula Loureiro, Ondina Espírito Santo and Vítor Bastos, challenged teachers Jorge Sottomaior Braga, Paulo Gafanha, Francisco Gomes, João Jerónimo, João Marôco, Mário Lima and José Marques (who are MIEExpert Educator or Fellows) to manage the group of teachers on Facebook “e-Learning – Support”.

The growth of the group was not foreseen… after two weeks, we are more than 21,000 belonging to this project designed by these teachers. Let’s go and check the figures as they speak for themselves.

Currently the geographical distribution of the group is quite curious. We have teachers from all regions within Portugal, but effectively the largest number of members is in the Lisbon area, followed by Braga and Oporto.

By decision of the group and to incorporate a new Know-how with our members, we opened the group to teachers working outside of Portugal. Some of the teachers teach in Portuguese schools around the world, others are specialists in the different areas of knowledge. The geographical distribution is quite curious and can be observed in the following graph.

Leaving now the number of members of the group, let’s look at the interaction that exists between them at the date of this article.

These numbers are also amazing. There are currently 1046 publications, with more than 10500 comments submitted and more than 52 000 reactions. Please note that the posts, comments, and reactions refer to requests for help, tips, and responses provided by community members. This was only in 15 days.

To demonstrate the interaction capacity of this group, in the last 93 publications, 5660 comments were made with a total of 24145 reactions. On average, these publications were seen by 7,380 group members. We recall that moderators have created a hashtag system to facilitate the research of teachers who are members.

As the universe of teachers is so big, is there still room to grow? There is! However, to control access, only for teachers, there was a need to establish some access criteria, the main being to be an education professional. Unfortunately, we had the need to reject some requests, because it was not possible to confirm whether they were teachers. It was more than 1300, that after careful checks, we will always welcome them back.

In conclusion, you could have kept quiet, you could have chosen to give visibility only to your work, could keep your knowledge to yourself or choose to capitalize on it in another way. No, you set the tone and we accepted the challenge. Yes. we are united; the teachers have not given up and are still here. Just mention a post that Francisco Gomes published on Facebook and that I believe to be a quote from Churchill “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”.

Thank you | Obrigado!

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