DESCRIPTION OF THE SUCCESS STORY
S.S. is a student who is attending the forth form at IPSIA “Fascetti”, a vocational school, in Pisa. He is 18 and lives in Viareggio at 20 kilometres far from Pisa. He has got learning disabilities (DSA), in particular in reading and calculus, and an opposed-provocative disturb and severe difficulties of attention.
His story began four years ago, when he arrived for the first time at our school. He was deeply discouraged and disinterested because of his previous school failures.
During his first year at “Fascetti” it was very hard to control his hyperactivity and to catch his attention. It was absolutely necessary to create a trust relationship with him as soon as possible. First of all the support teachers tried to develop S’s self-esteem by rewarding him during his successful performances, in order to arouse his interests and motivation. Moreover, they always worked in small groups in the classroom. Fortunately, after few weeks, the support teachers gained his confidence and they succeeded in integrating him in his new class-group and involving him during the lessons.
Thanks to the law number 170 - 8 October 2010 “Nuove norme in materia di Disturbi Specifici di Apprendimento in ambito scolastico” and the following “Guide Lines” (enclosed to Decreto Ministeriale - 12 July 2011) in favour of students with specific learning disabilities, S.S. could use compensative instruments and exempt measures which allowed him to overcome his difficulties and to pass the professional examination in electronics ( a professional qualification) at the end of the third year, with good marks.
The support teachers’ specialized didactic intervention helped him to reach the most important learning targets in all the subjects by using schemes, synthesis, conceptual maps, and so on. Moreover their presence kept low his anxiety level during his performances.
After the professional qualification S. decided to interrupt his studies, then his teachers, with the support of his family and his afternoon educator, proposed him to take part in a project of alternation school-job in order to acquire professional and educational competences without leaving school . This project is financed by “Fascetti” school and it guarantees an accident insurance when a student goes to work in a firm or shop chosen by a Tutor of the school.
S. was very enthusiastic about it and accepted to work in a repair shop near home for four days a week and two days at school. This project avoided S.’s early school leaving and gave him the possibility to learn a job.
In the future S. could decide to attend school regularly and take a school leaving certificate.
The reasons which could explain this school success are:
- At school, the presence of support teachers divided in spheres of competence ( humanistic, scientific, technical and psychomotor ones) allowed to adopt different didactic strategies which favoured the student’s learning of different subjects. For example, in the humanistic sphere, the meta-cognitive strategy was useful to reflect and control the written language, the listening activity to overcome reading difficulties…Moreover the specific methodologies were supported by the use of compensative instruments such as: PC, software to self-correct, calculating machine, multiplication table, mathematical rules, time-line, conceptual maps, iconographical supports, summaries written in capital letters.
- At national level, the new laws in favour of students with learning disabilities allowed S’s school integration and formative success.
- At local level, some social operators( psychologists and social workers) supported him and his family both economically and psychologically. Moreover, these social operators met his teachers and parents twice a year at school , during the G.L.I.C (a particular meeting ) in order to discuss and approve an individual educational plan, called P.E.I. It stated which learning targets could be reached by the student during his scholastic year. Then, at the end of the school, they met again to check his results. This synergy of helps were necessary for him to reach both psychological and scholastic aims.
- The project of alternation school-job planned by “Fascetti” school was a great resource against S’s school leaving. In fact, when S. decided to leave school after his Qualification, this project gave him the opportunity to learn a job as a mechanic apprentice and at the same time to go on improving his linguistic competences and to enrich his mind with new knowledge at school.
This project could help students at risk of school drop out to understand the real meaning of “hard work” and the importance of a good education to find a rewarded job. Some students could decide to come back school regularly and take a school leaving certificate, while others could learn spendable professional competences in working field.