DESCRIPTION OF THE EXPERIENCE
Aspects to consider:
At the Hotel and Catering Vocational Secondary School where I’ve been teaching for 20 years, some very strange events occurred in a class I, in October 2007: students’ widespread and frequent absences, parents telling teachers about their children’s fear at coming to school, periodical thefts, etc…..
One day after a very tiring and noisy hour lesson in the class I, I decided to make the students act an “exchange role play” (between teacher and students). I had previously identified a particular vulnerable and problematic girl, so I made her sit at my desk and I sat among the students. Immediately the students were silent and seemed very interested in the game. The girl sitting at the teacher’s desk enjoyed paying the role very much and later she made me notice how she had been good at managing the students.
The following day I talked to the girl about her past and I found out she had lived hard life experiences: she had been adopted, together with her brother, by adoptive parents who had revealed no authoritativeness in their educating method. Besides, her biological parents were addicts and had used violence towards their two children.
So I decided to carry out a listening course with the whole class including the girl,…… unluckily, with no noticeable result. Despite my best efforts, the class situation got worse: one of the students, a girl, was constantly under pressure and she no longer wanted to attend school.
However, during my lessons, we often acted the “exchange role play” or the “petting game” in order to improve the students’ behaviour and in particular the problematic girl’s attitude towards her classmates and teachers…..but with no appreciable results.
The girl was often punished and removed from school because of her constant insults and injuries to my colleagues.
Finally, as a last desperate attempt, I decided, together with my colleagues, to suggest the girl (who now was 18) to attend our evening classes.
This was a successful idea because she began to interact and relate to adults.
At the beginning, she didn’t want to go on studying at evening classes but she soon enjoyed it. She liked to be considered an adult and the most important thing was that she learnt to love herself.
Today she is a graduate girl and even if she is still nervous, she is able to control her emotions.
I don’t really know what the “merits and the faults” of this story are, but over the years I realized it is not useful to make repeating older students and younger students attend the same class.
In my opinion nowadays school is getting flat in the name of a “correct policy”