It is an educational (…)
Here is another example of an engaging practice that, from a professional experience, fosters students’ SCHOOL ENGAGEMENT. By school engagement we mean students’ observable participation in school activities, sense of belonging to classmates and teachers, and valuing success in school-related goals.
It is implemented by: Special education teachers
It is directed at students aged: 14+
Target group: Student-centered
Main subjects involved: Mathematics, Social Science, Arts, Physical Education, Social Skills, Digital Skills, Cross-curricular
ICT involvement: yes
Description of the practice: The remedial class I teach in at a secondary school is a special support class. Most of the students who come there have struggled to attend school. This small group has space for six students in grades 6 to 9. Yet, new students and those already heavily involved in lessons of their own year level are only counted as utilising ‘half a seat’. Pupils study during a shortened school day upon agreement. This is supported by a tailor-made timetable that is implemented in the context of a small rehabilitative group for 15-25 lessons/week.
Learning starts with an orientation visit to the classroom, during which the student is accompanied by his/her carer, the teacher, and a psychiatric nurse. Classroom procedures are reviewed and an agreement is reached at the start of the first day (often the student wants to be already in class when the other pupils arrive). On this first day the school day lengths are also agreed upon.
If familiarisation or school entry is not successful, a rehabilitative special education teacher or school counsellor will visit the student’s home to attempt to alleviate the stress of school entry. If necessary, exposure training for school re-entry is agreed with the home. If necessary and appropriate, taxi rides are arranged to the school, even if he/she lives nearby. The taxi allowance is waived as the rehabilitation progresses, either during the rehabilitation period or later. If the pupil cycles or walks to school, but has been unable to get to school in the morning, he/she will be supported in getting to school by telephone during the rehabilitation period.
As the rehabilitation process progresses, the student first practices attending lessons in their home class for an hour. This may take place either in the morning or afternoon, initially with the support of the rehabilitation class teacher. Relationships with the home school year level are supported even before the training. This is fostered by the student studying the same content as his/her home class. The student additionally maintains interactions with teachers regarding study matters at the home school. During the training, care is taken to ensure that support at the home school is organised to support the pupil’s school integration and regular school attendance. This includes monitoring and developing social wellbeing and personalised teaching arrangements.
A pupil in remedial education is also required to engage in multidisciplinary support outside school hours. This is often in the form of specialised child or adolescent psychiatric care and/or social services. On the social services side, on-site morning support can be provided in the pupil’s home. The rehabilitation psychiatric nurse does not provide treatment, but helps coordinate multidisciplinary support where necessary. The nurse also consults the teacher, for example on the length of the school day or the pupil’s symptoms.
During the school day, if necessary, the pupil and the school counselor/psychiatric nurse phone the student’s home. They involve the student in discussions with the guardian. Topics of discussion often include anxieties related to school (e.g. fear of social situations), psychosomatic symptoms and how to cope with them, thoughts and feelings related to training, and how the training is progressing when the pupil returns home from school.
As the main goal of learning with a trainer is often the integrity of the school week, i.e. regular school attendance, the student’s ability to cope is also supported by attempting to avoid allocating homework or reducing the homework levels. Sometimes, pupils are not initially required to study subjects, but focus on coping with being at school. They may, for instance, engage in solving a puzzle, or practise following instructions by doing something they like, such as tearing up paper. Learning emphasises progress from the pupil’s perspective. Focus is placed on the mastery of key learning content only, with specific areas of emphasis introduced where necessary. It is essential that the learner feels empowered as a contributor to his/her own rehabilitation and learning.
Accessible to any student: yes
Meaningful participation for every student: yes
Support to the practice: yes