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Teachers Experiences

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The story of Matteo V.
Chiara Zanobini
“G.Fascetti” – Vocational Institute Pisa
School bullying
Aspects to consider:
 Period and place in which the experience took place
 main actors involved (special focus on the profile of the student):

The experience took place in the school year 2012/13, the main actors involved were: Matteo V.,the student, and the teacher of Italian who was the class coordinator.

 Description of the factual events
 Actions carried out to identify the causes of the students difficulties
 Actions carried out to solve the situation:

When the experience took place Matteo was 14, and he had started to attend the first class of the Vocational Institute for mechanics. He was not particularly keen on that type of studies, which he had chosen simply because it is considered the easiest, and because his brother was already attending it. He was a hard to manage student, with a very fragile health. No one knew much about him, but, by the time, it was discovered that he had suffered several operations to the head due to a tumor, and that his family situation was very complex : his mother had separated because her husband had committed violence against her, and the court had prevented the father from having contact with their children. Matteo had had problems with the management of violent behaviours, and he had followed a path of recovery from a Scientific Institute for Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry, near Pisa. At the end of the treatment he had been declared "recovered " and able to go back to school. His mother had chosen not to report the problem to the new school, but on the advice of the Institute of Neuropsychiatry, she had decided to have Matteo followed privately by a psychologist. Matteo, however, from the very first days of school, had begun to show great relationship problems : he could not establish relationships with anyone and his behavior was challenging to all of us. He was not interested in the lessons and he constantly asked to leave. The class mates, from the early days, had started to tease him calling him " little guy" and " shorty " and hitting him in the head. These attitudes made him nervous and provoked violent reactions: cursing, throwing objects and non-authorized going out of the class. The teachers , who did not know the problem, punished the boy thinking he was aggressive and rude, while his class mates, unpunished, continued to provoke him, thus hoping to waste time and avoid lessons. Things began to change when the class coordinator ( the teacher of Italian) began to gather information on the student, being aware of all the problems he had. An extraordinary Class Meeting was summoned and the issue was discussed. From that time on, the level of attention on the dynamics of the class grew, and the teachers realized that the reason of Matteo's violent reactions was the attitude of bullying of peers. The teacher of Italian decided to contact the psychologist who followed the boy and handle the different situations which might happen with her help. The headteacher, informed of the matter, was willing to discuss the problems that arose with a direct confrontation of the students and the teachers involved. This attitude fostered dialogue and began to frighten the fellow bullies, who, frightened by the confrontation in the headteacher's office, ceased to disturb the boy. The class meeting also decided to involve the rest of the class in a positive way: by inviting pupils to help Matteo to improve, providing materials, helping him and trying to reason with him. One guy in particular, repeating and older than Matteo, showed himself sensitive to the problem and , in its way, he became the “protector” of the boy. Of course, the relationship problems could not change completely from one day to another. But, by the end of the year, the situation had greatly improved, so as to allow Matteo to pass to the next school year .

 Problems encountered

The main problems encountered were the following: the lack of information (at the beginning, at least) from the school, and some resistance, on the part of some teachers, to understand and take responsibility for the child's problems, thinking that his aggressive attitude was not the result of repetead acts of bullying, but a characteristic of the pupil.

 Support received by fellow students, colleagues, school management and parents:

The teamwork was crucial for the resolution of the problem. If the class council had not chosen a common strategy and there had been no cooperation from the school headteacher and a constant contact with Matteo's mother and the psychologist, the situation would not have been solved. The positive involvement of classmates was then instrumental in changing the attitude of the boy

 Results achieved

Surely, with respect to the results achieved, we can speak of success of the experience.

 Strengths and weaknesses of the experience:

The greatest strength of the experience was definitely the collaboration and the constant monitoring of events.
The weaknesses were the unwillingness of some teachers to take care of the problem, and the change - the following year – of many of the teachers of the class group. In particular the change of the teacher of Italian led to a great difficulty, on the part of those who arrived the next year in the school, to take the situation under control .

Comments on this Teachers Experience

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Date: 2014.05.28

Posted by Prof.ssa Gianna Felli e Prof.ssa Elisabetta Bacci (TYPE OF SCHOOL: I.P.S.S.A,R, Vocational Institute Matteotti - Pisa COUNTRY: Italy)

Message: Our school is a vocational hotel management institute, having the same kind of students of the Fascetti Institute. Since when the new classes are formed - in the month of July - data are collected on new students. Then, in collaboration with support teachers and the schools the students come from, the strategies necessary to a proper composition of the classes are studied, in particular taking into account the most difficult cases so as to have well-balanced classes. In the first classes a tutor (chosen among the class teachers) is appointed: he/she acts as a filter between the Class Council and the student, the student and the outside of the school, the family – the social environment and the student. This figure is absorbed into the system and within the Class Council, and he follows the student for the first two years and beyond ....... However, obstacles are often encountered with inflexible colleagues, or colleagues who are not very sensitive to the various problems of the students, probably because they are too worried about the completion of the school curriculum. We agree with the colleagues of the Fascetti Institute that very often it is the family itself that holds the school deliberately unaware of the various health and family problems of their child and, therefore, it becomes difficult to identify the appropriate strategy to help the student in need.

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.