Lifelong Learning Programme

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Teachers Experiences

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An integration issue
Cidália Cordeiro
Higher Secondary
Identification of students’ at risk
This story is about a girl student called Maria (fictional name) enrolled in year 12 at the Agrupamento de Escolas do Bonfimin Portalegre, Portugal.
Maria is a kind and sweet adolescent; she is very introverted and she has low self-esteem.
During primary school, Maria experienced difficuly in integrating into school; she missed classes and that reflected on her final marks. Due to her learning difficulties in Portuguese and Mathematics, her lack of motivation and difficulty in integration, Maria received individualized support during primary school and in the lower secondary. However, Maria’s story at this stage shifted. Her problems grew because she became a bully victim. Her fragility was apparently an excellent opportunity for some colleagues to torment her with laughter and provoking comments. Maria defended herself by not going to school.
Her family was attentive and the parents soon realized there was something wrong at school. That would explain her depressive moods and the isolation that had been diagnosed Maria. With the help of the school psychologist and through Maria’s parents express will, Maria was transferred to another school.
This is when I met Maria. Her new class welcomes her and Maria manages to become an emotionally stable girl, adpated to school and integrated in school. She still receives individualized suppor in Portuguese and Mathematics and she has consultations with the school psychologist. The sense of belonging and being well received by her colleagues makes Maria happy. She likes going to school and she enjoys learning.
By the end of year 9, Maria had to make a choice on what to study next. The advice of the Class Director and of the Psychologist was that she should choose a vocational course. However, Maria dreamt of becoming a psychologist and therefore chose the Hunanities area.
She lands in a very segregated class, where students were hostile against more introverted students and very agitated. Maria is purposedly marginalized.
Her fear, anxiety and vexation on she commits mistakes reenter her life. In order to avoid it, she misses classes and school dropout is just around the corner.
Unhappy with the situation, the class director does not give up on Maria and devises a plan. At sixteen Maria should not seek refuge at home and give up her adolescence or her will to learn. It was necessary to educate her colleagues. They had to learn to accept the ‘other’ because this is a fundamental competence to live in harmony. As several subjects, such as Philosophy and Portuguese, converged to this theme, the teachers created a joint dynamics to reach this objective through reading texts, organizing debates on case studies and issues, watching movies.…
The strategy worked. Several class students gained a new sensibility and decided to treat Maria differently when she came to school. They substituted their criticisms for friendly words, and they welcomed Maria. As a consequence, Maria came more often to school and eventually she gave up on dropping out os school.
Maria hasn’t overcome all her barriers yet. There are moments when she feels better; others when her depressive moods make a comeback. However, she has made some important steps forward thanks to feeling that she belongs in that class. Her peers have made her feel like this when they learnt to respect her individuality.
Every school is a space for ‘growth’.

Comments on this Teachers Experience

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Date: 2014.08.20

Posted by Muhammed Cevat Otay (Turkey)

Message: I think that the sentence of “The sense of belonging and being well received by her colleagues makes Maria happy. She likes going to school and she enjoys learning.” Summarize all of the story. Not only disabled children but also typically developed children who has adapting problems in school have the mutual problem which is called as not feeling as belong to the environment. In this event, sensitive climate in classrom provides Maria as belongingness to school. So, she liked to go to school . As a result of this, she can find more valuable the school, education and learinig. Another important point here is that, thank to Maria the other child , teachers and administaror have an awareness about disabled children/individuals.

Date: 2014.08.20

Posted by Cansu Gürpınar (Turkey)

Message: Maria’s problem is general for many schools. Integration is a hard issue for educators. We should examine Maria’s situation diligently. We should create positive class environment. For creating this, we must determine class rules with students democratically. Then, we start to give an basis values to students, one of these is esteem. Every students should respect the other. For reinforcing the bond of students, we should arrange out of class activities.These activities ensure the solidarity between peers. Thus, our students will live in a harmony.

Date: 2014.08.19

Posted by Metin Elkatmış (Turkey)

Message: The 12-year-old Maria in Portugal from the beginning of the story, describing the events are. Maria was very gentle, introverted and is a student with low self-esteem. Marie-class best adapted to their situation was not realized. In Portuguese and mathematics courses a student is not very successful. Maria's is gentle and fragile; the other has been the subject of ridicule among his friends. Maria school was transferred to another school that do not comply. Individual support in the new school, Maria was successful in math and Portuguese and has made the process of adaptation to school.

Date: 2014.06.02

Posted by Martine PRIGNON (Belgium)

Message: This story highlights a regularly observed risk factor: a student’s difficulty to be accepted by her peers, which could lead to some form of bullying.

In many cases, this situation lasts throughout the years and can lead to early school leaving because it was not detected and adequately dealt with.

The strategy adopted in this specific case is particularly effective, for it associates several factors of success:

- Involvement of the director, who devised a plan to help the student as soon as he became aware of the situation.
- Involvement and concerted (multidisciplinary) approach from the teachers, who “created a common dynamics with text reading, debates, films…”
- Action carried out among the peers: the aim was to educate the classmates so that they “learn to accept the other, which is crucial to live in harmony”.
- The “positive contagion” effect triggered as soon as the first classmates began to change their attitudes.
- The essential role of a sense of belonging to the class that her peers “made her feel when they learnt to respect her individuality”. Thanks to this sense of belonging, the student could eventually stay at school and progress.

Like in many other experiences told by project partners, it is probably the combined action of those different factors that produced a positive result.

20 December 2014

Final Partners’ meeting

The fourth partners’ meeting took place in Florence (IT) on 15 December 2014. The meeting had the objective to check the activities carried out since the third meeting of the project and share and assess the in progress results. A special focus has been dedicated to the presentation of the strategies to solve the case scenarios.