DESCRIPTION OF THE EXPERIENCE
Period and place in which the experience took place
Support space. School year 2013-2014.
Main actors involved (special focus on the profile of the student)
• A repeating student, 5th year class of general education.
He dropped out the previous year. He is demotivated, he lacks self-confidence, has no personal project. He resumes the year with negative credentials.
• The agent of the support space.
Description of the factual events
• Early October 2013, the educator of that level is worried about a stent’s many absences. He turns to the agent of the support space that has just been established by the school for students in difficulties.
• After the first interview, the agent accepts to take the student in charge and to help him solve his problems. The aim is to succeed next year.
• To do so, the agent will work on the student’s resources and skills in “co-construction” with him.
Actions carried out to identify the causes of the students difficulties
• The agent of the support space practices school coaching. He helps the student solve his problem giving him his “toolbox”. The solution is “co-built” with the student according to his needs.
• When the situation requires it, the agent guides the student to another service or person: internally (educators, teachers, psycho-medico-social centre), externally (family planning, information centre for young people, university centre specialised in learning troubles …).
Actions carried out to solve the situation and problems encountered
• The agent receives the student for a first assessment. During this interview, they get acquainted and discuss about his difficulties. The student is not judged. The content of the interview belongs to him, the agent only provides a framework.
• After the interview, the agent accepts to coach the student and proposes to set the modalities in a contract. This oral contract contains the two requests of the student (help in working method and organisation, help to study) and the tools offered by the agent. The student is willing and accepts the contract.
• A second appointment is set for the following week. The agent wants to make a deeper analysis of the student’s difficulties. He uses an intervention protocol base on the training sessions he took (in coaching and NLP – neuro-linguistic programming).
A complete list is made of what is wrong at home, when the student comes back from school (what time he comes back, if he has a snack, how and where he works, if there are brothers and sisters...). This is when the co-construction work begins with the student. The agent insists on ritualising learning. Thus, for instance, they agree that the student:
- Will have a snack when coming home because he is hungry
- Will not work in the living room because his brothers and sisters are playing there
- Will occupy his bedroom and work there (creating an adapted working space, being well sat-down, having good light …)
- Will limit his use of his mobile phone …
- Will plan his work for the week (also integrating his personal activities). He never knows what to begin with (and sometimes takes 15 minutes to decide).
• The sessions go on. The agent addresses how to order one’s lessons, how to study, daily work management …
• A problem occurs during a work in French he is supposed to do with a classmate, also in difficulties. The two students do not meet, do not manage to work together and the work is not done (reading a book, summary and oral presentation).
The student never dared to talk about the problem to his teacher. This failure could jeopardise his success again.
The agent discusses it and suggests mediating with the French teacher, who accepts it. The student proposes to do the work again, alone, on another book. The teacher accepts. This new work is in progress. The student seems to be respecting his commitment.
Between October 2013 and February 2014, the agent carried out five coaching sessions with the student during school hours.
Conclusion after a five-month coaching:
• The student has progressed. He feels more confident, he is more committed to his work, he goes more frequently to school, his marks have improved, he feels in a situation of success rather than failure.
• Without the help of the agent, he would probably have dropped out again and failed the year after the failure in French.
• This student has many gaps. Therefore success is not certain. The agent talked to him about it and wants to go on with the support. He would like to be able to see the student one hour per week. There is still a lot to do about the student’s personal project.
Support received by fellow students, colleagues, school management and parents
• The student is not isolated in the class but he does not ask easily help from his classmates. In the class-group, there is little sharing between students regarding school work.
• The student does not communicate much with his parents. The agent has no other information on the family.
• The French teacher adapted to his colleague’s request. He accepted that the student does his work again.
Strengths and weaknesses of the experience
Since the support space is recent and the student’s support still in progress, the analysis will need to be refined. However, several points can be pointed out.
• The establishment of a support space for students in difficulties by the management must be praised.
• The agent of the support space is a teacher who is motivated and trained to coaching. He is completely in favour of the initiative.
• The support space is located in a discreet room.
• The student is not stigmatised. Students are not judged or punished. They are helped to solve their problems.
• The agent is particularly appreciated by his students.
• The French teacher accepted the mediation proposed by his colleague.
• Hours and teachers dedicated to the support space are insufficient. The agent works much more than the 10 hours/week allocated.
• The coaching sessions are short (50 minutes)
• The coaching sessions take place during school hours. Therefore the student is absent from some lessons, which some teachers resent.
• The student started the year again with the negative credentials of the previous year. Nothing was organised for him during summer. This struck the support space agent.