After a very successful online training in August, the I-TAP-PD partners finally had a chance to test the training in person in Belgrade, Serbia, November 22nd-26th. Teachers and artists from Greece, Ireland, Netherlands and Serbia, some of them collaborating for a while, some meeting for the first time, gathered in the Cultural Centre “Parobrod” to figure out this thing of teacher/artist partnership. 42 people volunteered their time, knowledge, experience, and creativity during this week, obtaining new insights, learning about each other’s educational systems, the state of teacher/artist partnership, well established in some countries, in the experimental phase in others, and non-existing in others.  

The first day was spent in creative and reflective activities leading to getting to know each other better through creative exchange of the story of our name, defining our expectations and hopes for the oncoming days, experimenting with Creativos Genialos and telling the story of our adventure metaphorically, by helping our tiny people avatars explore the potentials of the venue, and expressing our impressions of the first day through the medium of photography.

On the second day we worked on exploring new methods of sharing, and using our own experiences and personal histories for creating artistic expression in collaboration, becoming supportive teams in joint work. After that, we explored creative possibilities of using visual arts, nature material crafts and music workshops to interpret a children’s book with a metaphorical illustration of diversity, problem-solving and creative problem-solving. International groups of artists and teachers participated in workshops of their choice, gaining inspiration for their future collaborations. 

The third day brought a topic of curriculums on our path. An interesting process helped us gain some insights into educational systems and curriculums of partner countries. Most of us were surprised at both; how different our educational systems are, and yet how teachers are quite like-minded when it comes to their work and children. The playful drama interpretations of curriculum were a highlight of this process and left us thinking about the school life of children we work with. The afternoon took us on an adventure of exploring the Belgrade fortress, Kalemegdan, the rich history of a place we’re in and getting a glimpse into the real life of our hosts. By the end of this day, the last day, we would spend in this beautiful and welcoming venue, a strong sense of togetherness was felt and recognized by the group. 

The fourth day took us to a historic house of Djura Jaksic, one of the most revered romantic poets and painters, now a gallery, with (oh, how appropriate) a photo-exhibition of an interesting program implemented in one school in Belgium. This day started with a creative movement-process workshop, in which we were exploring movement that happens when we let go of control. It was impressive to gain two beautiful short dance presentations developing from a seemingly simple process. On this day, we also explored the idea that people become partners when they work together, create together and have fun together, through workshops based on magical thinking and humor, creating our multi-practical gadgets helping us in everyday teacher-artist work. Finally, to sum our experiences, we created teacher-artist partnership manuals, in the spirit of IKEA manuals. 

The fifth day was a day of creative evaluation – exploring the potentials of future collaborative work between teachers and artists. Some serious lesson plans and brilliant project ideas happened in international teams discussing their inspirations, hopes, visions and desires for future work and collaboration. After this workshop, which was also a specific form of the evaluation of the work of the past two weeks, we participated in a space evaluation, expressing with our bodies our impressions of the week we were leaving behind. 

Promises to stay in touch, keep working together, and developing activities were given and made all over the place, addresses exchanged, and it is exciting to see what will develop from these initiatives in the future. Seeds were planted. It takes time and care to sprout. 

Our facilitators, Jenny, Manja, Betty, Nikoleta, Jugoslav, Sanja and Anđa shared their knowledge, experiences and views, steering this boat from isolated islands we found ourselves in on the first day, to a safe harbour of a well – connected and supportive group, interested in exploring potentials for future international collaborations, with some very interesting and attractive ideas already on the table.