Lifelong Learning Programme

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Teachers Experiences

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Steps to support Mihaela
Technical disciplines
32 years
Technology High School
Identification of students’ at risk
Students with learning difficulties
The school year 2012-2013, High School “Alexandru cel Bun” Botoșani.
Mihaela is 17 years old and she is a student in the 11th grade, where I am a form master. After I have discussed with her, I found that her family has very serious social and economic problems, because his father was dead and her mother is ill and the only source of income is the survivorship pension.
However, the mother wants her daughter to keep attending school. The family lives in rural area, the other two sisters are married. Mihaela lives in town at one of the sisters and she was transferred to High School “Alexandru cel Bun” from another school from the Botoșani County.
During the first days of school, Mihaela’s mother came to me and told me about her problems, asking me to help her.
1. The first step of intervention was to get acquainted with the problems which Mihaela faced, identified after the taking the initial tests, reading the observation cards of her behavior in the classroom and of course after discussing with Mihaela and her mother.
2. The problems which Mihaela faced and the main needs are: from the medical point of view – locommotor physical impairments – the left leg is shorter; from the psycho – pedagogical point of view – increase of the studying motivation, development of the self - knowledge skills, increase of the self – confidence, encouragement to express the emotions, improvement of the cooperation skills and the team work, offering of the feed-back in time and in an efficient way; from the school skills’ point of view: knowledge of basic general school subjects (especially mathematics), structuring of some contents about technical school subjects, using some basic skills (to measure, to sketch, to draw, to reproduce, to recognize), correct understanding of the tasks from the worksheets or laboratory cards and of the solving algorithm, development of the creativity.
3. I discussed with Mihaela about this evaluation and she admitted that the problems are real. This was the second and the most important step, because in this way I was sure that Mihaela would be involved in what I would plan for her.
4. The third step to help Mihaela was building a support team consisting of the head-teacher, psychologist, mother and the management team.
After the identification of the requirements and knowledge of the Mihaela’s problems, I went on to the next step: I conceived an individual intervention program and I set the objectives: growing self-confidence through self-knowledge, cooperation in team activities, communication and expressing her emotions, creativity, improving professional basic acquisitions and practical skills (to measure, to sketch, to draw, to reproduce, to recognize); improvement of the task understanding and interpretation from worksheets or laboratory cards.
In order to accomplish the objectives, the contents included in the program are: psychological counseling – one hour per week, professional counseling for the school subjects where she faces difficulties – 2 hours per week, involvement in the activities within the projects „Global Education Week” (October 2012) and „Your Chances Festival” (November 2012).
The strategies used in the program as a result of the establishment of a working program and compliance with the program, Mihaela’s including in laboratory activities to work in team and to solve specific tasks, her involvement in the project activities, was rewarded with a diploma.
- During the intervention program, Mihaela’s mother was very interested in the program development.
- In order to assess and appreciate the progress made by Mihaela, I established some minimal criteria: improving the self trust and the positive interrelation with at least four classmates, identifying the ways to develop self image, participating to all the recommended activities.
For the assessment I used some methods and tools, for example: direct and indirect observation, assessment grid for the social behavior, school results.
The first results was observed after the semester testing period, when Mihaela got acceptable results. Then I saw that Mihaela was more confident in her own abilities, she developed creativity proved through some new ideas expressed by her during the discussions at the counseling classes, she made friends within her class.

Strengths used during the program: attending school, the wish to be involved in the school life, support from her mother.
Weaknesses: Mihaela fails to create an appropriate rhythm within the working group, she can’t solve the school tasks in a reasonable time because of lack of knowledge.
At the end of the school year, Mihaela graduated with 7,20 and managed to integrate in the classroom, making two friends already.
I think I am a lucky one because I could help Mihaela and I managed to bring a hope in her life and her mother’s life too.

Comments on this Teachers Experience

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Date: 2014.08.20

Posted by Burçin Nural (Turkey)

Message: Self-esteem is a important problem for school life and normal life. Before the learning activities, we should ensure self esteem. Every students can have problems, if they have self-esteem, they can overcome every problems. In this story, teacher did her best. She scheduled levels and student started to programme. I think, most important point of this story is accepting the problem by the student. If student face with problems, students will become aware her/his features and can deal with problems.

Date: 2014.05.28

Posted by Nathalie Ruelle (Belgium)

Message: Starting with identifying the problem (contacting the family, teachers, etc.) and getting acquitted with the various factors such as students’ environment is certainly an essential basis to propose them her help them set small objectives.

In my opinion, to make the student change and turn them in an actor of this change can work only if one is interested in their own values and living environment.

During this intervention, and unlike what we generally experience at our level, the mother’s involvement and presence was undoubtedly a most positive factor to increase the young girl’s motivation.

As far as we are concerned, we face considerable difficulties when it comes to create a partnership between family and school.
Generally, parents feel that they have already tried all they could and see us as their saviours.

To bring the student’s relatives in the school and involve them again in their child’s education is often a challenge.

Date: 2014.05.16


Message: The experience narrated is very significant in several respects.
Firstly, I would like to underline that we clearly perceive how the teacher is involved in this story, both emotionally and professionally speaking. As evinced in the conclusion, success in difficult cases is an indisputable, fundamental value for our professional growth.
In analyzing the various aspects highlighted by the colleague, I feel it is necessary to attribute the key to success to two essential factors, the planning of the case study and the synergic activation of a network of targeted interventions. The approach of the study of Mihaela’s educational situation was based on objective criteria, both during the initial phase of gathering information and in the subsequent ongoing monitoring (by means of recognition and evaluation using “measurable” indicators). This aspect is very important, because it allows for easy verification of the situation in time and enables the school workers to complete a detailed analysis of the critical aspects and strengths of the chosen educational plan. The approach effectively integrated a plurality of actions taken on behalf of the student. The plan involved a parallel approach between curricular and extra-curricular activities to promote Mihaela’s sense of self-esteem, and served to counteract a lack of success often experienced in individual subjects.
In Italy, as is well known, since 1977, students with psychomotor disabilities (like Mihaela) are mainstreamed in the public school classes and are entitled to a support teacher that is assigned to their class. The support teacher accompanies the student throughout his/her scholastic career and collaborates with faculty members of the Class Council for the preparation of an individualized educational program that emphasizes the student’s potential and promotes social inclusion with peers.
Mihaela’s problem was addressed based on the efforts and dedication of a motivated teacher, who understood the importance of involving the student by making her an active participant in her own program. The teacher effectively utilized the support teachers offered by the scholastic institute to strengthen Mihaela where she needed it and she put the educational value of the teaching laboratory at the center of her learning process in order to integrate sectorial learning and social competencies that benefitted the entire class (not only Mihaela!).

Date: 2014.04.30

Posted by Sorin Aionesei (Romania)

Message: The story depicts the challenges involved by working with pupils who have learning disabilities, in the Romanian educational system.

Like other ideas borrowed from the Western pedagogy, the integration of people with learning difficulties involves a significant drawback: the scarce resources necessary to apply it, both human and financial. This is why people like Cioban Doina are a valuable asset, they compensate for the support the system struggles to provide.

During my teaching experiences I've noticed that pupils who are cognitively impaired seem to have a higher awareness as regards the personality of their peers and the relationships from the classroom. More often than not, they are astute observers of the human soul. I think it's a way their psyche strives for balance: it copes with the cognitive impairment by developing more the emotional intelligence.

As my fellow teacher accurately points out, one of the main issues we have to solve, when confronted with people having learning disabilities, is their lack of self confidence. This is why the teacher needs to build a close connection with the pupil, to help him discover his strengths and to convey him the message that he can achieve his goals as long as he is willing to believe in them.

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.