„They made us feel like we were actually in Brno,“ reflects the guest researcher on Virtual Teaching Practice Week 2020

Having received feedback from the Teaching Practice Week Masaryk University Language Centre (CJV) organised for the Max Weber Fellows of the European University Institute in Florence last week, we can confirm with confidence that Masaryk University can be successful even in virtual times. 

7 May 2020

MU Language Centre hosted the 3rd Teaching Practice Week for European University Institute Max Weber Fellows. Seven excellent researchers (Nikolaos Mavropoulos, PhD in History, Arianna Tassinari, PhD in Industrial Relations, Pauline Trouillard, PhD in Public Law, Julie Deschepper, PhD in History, Stylianos Tsiaras,  PhD in Economics, Jorge Díaz Ceballos, PhD in History, and Doina Anca Cretu, PhD in International History) arrived virtually to Brno to practise their teaching in distance mode.

For ten consecutive days, the Fellows taught one by one 14 online seminars in total with Masaryk University students of History, Law, Economics, International Relations or Art. A team of 17 CJV staff members made sure the Fellows got all the organisational and pedagogical support they needed. 

The Virtual Teaching Practice Week 2020 offered:

two sessions taught by each Fellow
pre-session consultations, observation and detailed post-session feedback given by at least two CJV academics
three general pedagogy-focused sessions;
online cultural programme accompanying their „stay“

Since our students had already been through a few weeks of distance learning, most of them did not have any problems with following the presentations online. Some even felt more comfortable talking to the teacher via a web camera than in front of the whole class at school. According to the anonymous student feedbacks, the lessons were very original. The most intriguing lecture seemed to be about Russian art in the post-socialist space: I didn't hear any lecture or presentation on the topic like this, so it was pretty interesting and new for me. I also liked that a lecturer mentioned many points of view, how we can look at the socialist monuments and what they can mean to us, especially in our historical context.“

Teaching Practice Week is not only about the assessment and revision, but it always includes some cultural programme and activities. Every day, the Fellows received an e-mail with links to virtual tours of Masaryk university and the city of Brno, to streamed concerts and other cultural events, and to Czech films. The traditional dinner was transformed into a fantastic informal ZOOM party.

In the current environment of constant change, the Teaching Practice Week 2020 swiftly adapted, and ultimately was a great success full of new experiences for both sides. We wish the best to the brilliant Fellows and hope that one day, we can welcome them all at Masaryk University in person.​

Some comments from the Fellows´ feedback:

"The organization was impeccable and the availability of staff made the difference."

"Thank you again so much for your efforts, you made this experience an unforgettable one, even lived virtually."

"Interpersonal relations and a friendly relaxed atmosphere transformed a potentially scary experience into something memorable. Both teaching and interaction have been of high quality and efficiency."

"The main strong point was the personal touch to every aspect of the process. Of course, the general level of the students (both in terms of English and curiosity/interests) was very high."

"The team was absolutely amazing. Everything was crystal clear at every step. We had all the information in advance, we had a lot of support from both Barbora and our supervisors. And the emails sent everyday to make us felt as if we were actually in Brno was a really kind attention. Special mention to the online party. Thank you so much!"

"From the very beginning, the organization of our stay at Masaryk went very smoothly. After having been attributed a supervisor, we had all the information about the timetable and other arrangements. We had all the information needed in advance, we had a lot of support from both Barbora and our supervisors (mine was Martina Šindelářová Skupeňová). Given the circumstances and the fact that we all had to adapt and to try new things, the way the situation was taken care was very professional and quite admirable."

"This experience was beautiful. I am really happy to have been able to teach to such wonderful students. The feedbacks both from the observers of the sessions, but also from other fellows and from Libor during the meetings we had were very useful. It made me really think about my teaching practice based on a specific experience. It was also a great human experience and I am so glad to have been part of it."

"… through all the discussions with my observes and supervisors and also in the two days after our classes with Libor and the rest of the team I have gained a lot as a teacher. Every aspect of our teaching was discussed in the very detail. There was plenty of feedback. Personally, I had a very good time in this virtual setting which I means that the team did a fantastic job."

"Due to the language centre’s staff everything worked out just fine. We had all the information and support we needed it from the start to the very end. The timetable and order were respected to the fullest in a patient and methodical way. We were also given the tools and technology needed to fulfil our tasks. The staff was ever available and friendly, and I hope I can work with them again."

"I would recommend Masaryk not just for a teaching week but for obtaining a degree, studying or even working there. I would return if there was a job or position relative to my qualifications."

"I would strongly recommend it. Firstly, because of the high academic level of the university (both faculty and students) and, of course, because of the very friendly and warm atmosphere that we could (even remotedly) get from all the people involved over the week."

The Max Weber Programme (MWP) at the European University Institute (EUI) is the largest and most innovative postdoctoral programme in the historical and social sciences in Europe and it is open to postdoctoral fellows from anywhere in the world. The Programme is among the most selective – attracting circa 1200 applicants each year – in the fields of political and social sciences, economics, law and history for some 50-55 Fellowships. Fellows are selected on the basis of their research accomplishments and potential, their academic career interests, and the availability of the EUI faculty to provide mentorship. More info about MWP can be found here.

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