Holistic Language Pedagogies: A Journey of Professional Growth and Collaboration for Ukrainian and US Educators

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with the Ukrainian and US educators in the Holistic Language Pedagogies project.

Since January, the Center for Professional Learning (CPL) at Childhood Education International has been working to support teacher collaboration and professional development through the Holistic Language Pedagogies Project. The project has brought together secondary and tertiary level educators from Ukraine and the United States in a virtual community of practice to enrich their teaching practices and to support each other through challenging times.

“We feel heard, understood, and empowered to express our thoughts and ideas,” a project participant recently shared regarding her experience with the project.

Dynamic Collaboration

In its initial phase, the CPL team selected and brought together 45 English language educators from Ukraine and 13 educators from the US. The orientation meetings and team-building events set the stage for a dynamic collaboration.

Through a series of professional development workshops so far, 16 presenters have shared their expertise on social and emotional learning, technology integration, content and language integrated learning, and play-based learning with the group. In addition, participants set professional goals, and attended the TESOL Virtual Convention.

Meaningful Experiences

Testimonials from participants reflect a profound shift in their approach to teaching. For Liudmyla Herasymenko, Associate Professor at the Flight Academy of the National Aviation University in Kropyvnytskyi, Ukraine, the project has inspired a holistic transformation in her curriculum, emphasizing both academic rigor and student well-being: 

“The project has had a profound impact on my teaching, significantly expanding the scope of innovative practices I employ. Through the insightful presentations by skilled speakers and ongoing exchange of information among project members, I’ve cultivated a supportive classroom environment prioritizing the well-being of both teachers and students. ”

Another participant, Olha Datskiv of Ternopil Volodymyr Hnatiuk National Pedagogical University, noted that the project motivated her to teach her students what it means to work in such a community, which she defined as a group of like-minded professionals where everyone feels valued, respected and cared for, where ideas and values are shared, emotions are recognized, and individual strengths are built upon for the common good.” 

Beyond professional growth, the project has served as a beacon of hope amidst challenging times. As Yuliia Fernos, a faculty member at Uman National University of Horticulture, reflects, the support and solidarity fostered by CE International has proven invaluable in navigating the isolating effects of COVID-19 and the turmoil of war.

“We’re motivated to stay resilient,” she stated.

Her colleague, Alla Fridrikh of Rivne State University of the Humanities, shared a similar reflection, saying that the program “offers hope…[that] we will all collaborate to create a society free of violence, safeguard our students’ futures, and enhance the educational environment.”

Collaborative Exchange and Community-Building

As the project enters its next phase, the focus shifts towards furthering its objectives in the realm of collaborative exchange and community building. With an intensive virtual summer exchange on the horizon for the month of July, educators and facilitators are gearing up for an immersive experience, driven by a shared commitment to excellence in education.

Participants will also be creating an openly available compendium of holistic language pedagogy resources and preparing free professional development webinars that they will present in the fall of 2024.

Learn More About Our Responsive Teaching & Holistic Learning Initiatives