In education, continuous learning and search for innovative practices and effective teaching and learning methodologies represent an ongoing process. Schools are not just places of learning; they are true networks that collaborate and experiment in search of the best solutions for students’ education.

Because we strongly believe in this approach, in September 2023, Avenor applied to become a member in the OECD Schools+ Network, a global initiative that provides a learning platform for schools worldwide. Learning within the network is done through the exchange of best practices and by building successful models that can be applied  later in the design of learning processes in schools.

Thus, our school, along with 140 other schools from 40 countries around the world, selected to be part of the network, is now involved in creating a Toolbox of Effective Classroom Practices. More than that, we are one of the 10 schools selected to lead one of the 5 projects of the OECS Schools+ Network initiative.

How we are working to achieve this goal, what we have learned from the project, and how we are furthering the experience within our school community, we learn from Dr. Mihaela Stancu – Romanian Language Curriculum Leader and co-leader alongside Dr. Daniela Vasile for the Network’s research group on Cognitive Engagement.


What was Avenor’s motivation for engaging in this project?

A few years ago, we set as a school-wide objective to continuously stimulate and challenge our students, prompting them to think and find solutions. In order for students to be stimulated, they need to be cognitively engaged throughout their learning process. 

Although we have made progress in this direction (measured through surveys and exam results), we persist in refining practical tools to accomplish this goal effectively in the classroom.

By joining this project, we have the opportunity for genuine dialogue with schools worldwide, sharing our experiences, learning from theirs, and tailoring various solutions identified to our unique learning context.

Ultimately, the aim of all participants is to enhance students’ cognitive engagement.


How does the network work?

The network comprises 140 schools worldwide, representing approximately 118,000 students. To facilitate collaboration within the network, six working groups have been formed, with each school having the opportunity to join one based on its expertise and collaborate throughout the year with the other five.

The six working groups are: Classroom Interaction; Cognitive Engagement; Formative Assessment and Feedback; Quality of Subject Matter; Social-Emotional Support; Transversal Group on Pedagogy in Less Resourced Contexts. Avenor is part of Working Group 2 – Cognitive Engagement – which we also coordinate, with the assistance of Dr. Daniela Vasile – Director of Learning. Alongside Daniela and myself, four other colleagues are involved in the project: Mihaela Ancuța – Mathematics Curriculum Leader, Mari Nicolae – Academic Learning Lead Primary, Cristina Bumboiu – English Curriculum Leader, and Tania Răduță – Acting Head of Nursery.

Group work is conducted through online sessions, with specific objectives that we aim to achieve from one meeting to another. These meetings enable us to engage in dialogue and exchange ideas with teachers from around the world, co-creating solutions for our common challenges. The fact that each participant brings unique perspectives and experiences in the group  makes the entire endeavor highly beneficial for all involved.


What have been the most interesting lessons learned so far in the project?

Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects we’ve discovered is that there are no differences when it comes to the challenges we face, and our interests are common – teachers worldwide want to know how we can engage more our students in the learning process.

Another common challenge is that, at some point, we all have to answer students’ questions: “How is what I’m learning relevant to me?

This led to a question – How can teachers create meaningful learning contexts and connections to the real world?

In our attempt to find an answer, the solutions proposed by our group colleagues have been some of the most significant lessons learned for me:

  • Using a variety of real-world examples in teaching;
  • Challenging students to ask themselves questions about what is truly relevant and what are the big ideas that matter;
  • Introducing topics of interest to students, actively engaging them in conversation. Examples of such topics can include poverty, gender, racism, diversity, social media, and animal rights;
  • Encouraging students to learn from each other – each coming from specific contexts with their own life experiences;
  • Adopting a collaborative school-family working model;
  • Encouraging students to get involved in their communities, to be concerned about local and global issues.

Looking ahead, what are the expectations from this project?

We, the Avenor team, are very excited about this project and everything it entails, and we eagerly await to see how the Toolbox of Effective Classroom Practices takes shape, hoping to eventually use it in our classroom activities.

From a broader perspective, the OECD Schools+ network is more than just an educational initiative; it is evidence of the power of collaboration and a shared vision in transforming learning experiences. Through their active participation, teachers from around the world set an example in terms of innovation and commitment to excellence.