golden5: an educational intervention

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Stough 2001). Contemporary classroom management research was influenced by the studies of Jacob Kouninand his colleagues (1970). Kounin follows an ...



Descripción breve The proposed project GOLDEN5 aims to produce, over three years, an educational program and a modular course for educational staff to create a more congenial and effective school environment. This project is funded on the belief that schools have important responsibilities for the education of future citizens, with healthy attitudes towards themselves, the others and the society, and that children at risk of social exclusion do need special attention. Teachers themselves need to be competent managing strategies and improving social development of the children and the class as a group. The team involved in this project has large previous experiences in projects related to behaviour problems and children at risk of social exclusion, thereby educational resources and modular teacher training courses have already been developed by them. Our aim is to organize and integrate our educational background in a systematic approach that would be called the GOLDEN program.

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© Lera, MJ, (coord) (2009). Golden5: a psychoeducational intervention. Sevilla: Universidad de Sevilla. ISBN: 978-84-692-6707-3 See This project has been funded with support from the European Commission and be awarded with the bronze prize of The European Awards for Lifelong Learning on May 2009. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein Lera, MJ, (coord) (2009). Golden5: una intervención psicoeducativa. Sevilla: Universidad de Sevilla. ISBN, 978-84-692-6707-3 Ver El presente proyecto ha sido financiado con el apoyo de la Comisión Europea y galardonado con el bronce en los Premios Europeos de Enseñanza Permanente celebrados en Praga en Mayo de 2009. Esta publicación es responsabilidad exclusiva de su autor. La Comisión no es responsable del uso que pueda hacerse de la información aquí difundida.


GOLDEN5 PROGRAMME 19090- 2004-1-COM-1-2.1. This paper can be used providing cite the original source and the web page. All the information in this web, is subject to copyright

GOLDEN5 PROGRAMME: Golden Principle Lera, M-J., Jensen, K., Josang, F., Buccoliero, E., Szymanska, J. & Timmermans, J. (2009) Golden principle. In 1. - Secondary Education: Problems, school failure, motivation… 2. - Needs for School Adjustment 3. - Social and Personal Development 3.1. Classmates 3.2. Teachers’ role 4. – GOLDEN5: Intervention model proposal

1. - Secondary Education: Problems, school failure, motivation… The five countries involved in this project have similar problems in their schools, specially related to behavioural problems and, as their consequences, the low achievement of students at risk of social exclusion. In fact, all the countries in the Community face the same challenges in actual multicultural and multi religious society, which is not compatible with traditional educational methods. In Italy, Centre Promeco (It), working in teacher training since 1993, has expressed a specific need of support in educative work with students at risk, also because it is increasing the presence of immigrants and youngest with problems (recognizing rules and roles, motivation toward study and so on). Researchers show a strong problem of bullying in secondary schools, towards students who are “different” from the majority: attitudes, religion, country, physical aspect. This is linked to a problem of integration in the classrooms and dropout among students suffering social exclusion. In Belgium, data show that 10 to 20% of pupils in some classrooms are marginalized, have academic problems in addition to social problems. Problems of integration are more relevant for immigrant students, just like the consequences of social exclusion, absenteeism, lack of motivation and low achievement. The NGO Le Soufflé participated in this project developing a program for teachers to deal with the diversity and children at risk. In Spain, data are similar; under the NOVAS-RES project we have developed materials and courses to improve teacher resources to deal with this diversity. The current


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situation is not improving; the Comenius 21. “La maleta intercultural” gave us the opportunity to explore the situation of immigrant children, and results indicate that teachers need more resources, otherwise they will be soon at risk of social exclusion; these children have more personal, social and academic problems than others. Besides, there are other special groups that need urgent attention, as the case of gypsies and children of temporary workers. In Norway and Poland, the situation is also very similar; 7% of pupils in Norway are marginalized in the classroom, having these pupils’ academic problems in addition to social problems. In Poland the current situation of high unemployment is having effects on the school, and the lack of motivation of students is also directly related with more aggression and violence, social exclusion, school stress in teachers and students, etc. being all of them significant problems for Educational Authorities. It is obvious the challenge who has to make all the teachers: In one face attend the diversity of students and in the other face attend individual academic needs of every student.

2. - Needs for School Adjustment Harter (1996)1 explains the change between primary and secondary school, being in secondary contexts where the environment is more impersonal and competitive than in primary. Eccles (1988)2 explains that in the transition to Secondary Education, the school environment becomes more impersonal, more formal, more evaluative, and more competitive than in the elementary grades. It is primarily teachers who communicate these changing values as standards. There is also an increasing emphasis on social comparison. Completing the model Eccles (1990)3, they suggest that the lack of fit between the secondary school environment and the needs of young adolescents contributes to the negative shift observed in motivation. Teachers become more controlling when students need more autonomy, and relationships between them become more impersonal, when young people need more support of adults apart from their parents. In order to explore this model, Harter has done various studies (see Harter, 1996) that revealed that motivational orientation is highly related to perceived scholastic


Harter, S. (1996). Teacher and classmate influences on scholastic motivation, self-esteem., and level of voice in adolescents. Social motivation: understanding children's school adjustment. J. Junoven and K. Wentzel. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. 2

Eccles, J. and C. Midgley (1988). Stage-environment fit: developmentally appropriate classrooms for young adolescents. Research on motivation in education, goals and cognition. R. C. Ames and C. Ames. New York, Academic Press. 3: 139-186. 3

Eccles, J. and C. Midgley (1990). Changes in academic motivation and self perceptions during early adolescent. Advances in adolescent development: from childhood to adolescence. R. Montemayor, G. Adams and T. Gullota. Newbury Park, Sage. 2: 139-186.


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competence (Harter and Connell, 1984; Harter and Jackson, 1992)4. Thus students who evaluated their competence positively will typically report that they are intrinsically motivated, whereas negative perceptions of their competence will be associated with extrinsically motivation (see Harter 1996). Studies have shown that intrinsic motivation declines over school years, being the biggest change between 6th and 7th degree (the equivalent of the change between primary and secondary education) (Harter, 1981)5. Harter carried out one longitudinal project to explain this negative shift, examining motivation of students before and after the school transition. They found that 50% of students with remain with the same motivation and perceived competence, whereas the other 50% reported either substantial increases or decreases in their perceptions of competence. Examining why students lose their intrinsic motivation they used a questionnaire based on two factors: external evaluation and social comparison. Dimensions included in external evaluation were teachers’ emphasis on grades, competition, control/choice and personal interest. Harter found that with increasing grade level, students perceive teachers put greater emphasis on grades, greater focus on competition and on control, heightened external evaluation on performance, and at the same time, paying little attention to students’ personal interest. These factors make students to revaluate their sense of competence. In addition, students report increasing emphasis on classmate social comparison; and, the higher the grade level is, the more students feel that schoolwork is boring and irrelevant. Also results show that more students felt that teachers emphasized the components of external evaluation the more they reported feeling stupid as a motive undermining intrinsic interest. When teachers were asked about the same questions, they did not feel that they were emphasizing the external evaluation, nor they were making social comparisons, as much students reported. Both of them agreed that if students felt stupid, it would undermine their intrinsic interest in schoolwork. However, teachers did not show any evidence that educational practices might contribute to students’ stupidity. Classmates also influence to such reevaluation. A significant part of the students don’t know each other previously, therefore the social reference group is widely expended, requiring that students reassess their competence in relationship to members of this new social comparison group. This increasing emphasis on social comparison, serves to foster a reevaluation of one’s scholastic competence. These comparisons can have devastating psychological effects for a large number of students who conclude that they are relatively incompetent, compared to those at the top. From these researches it seems that teachers are not only important in the transition to secondary school, but also they can do a lot to increase intrinsic motivation on students. 4

Harter, S. and J. P. Connell (1984). A comparison of alternative models of the relationships between academic achievement and children's perceptions of competence, control and motivational orientation. The development of achievement-related cognitions and behaviours. J. Nicholls. Greenwhich, JAI Press. Harter, S. and B. Jackson (1992). “Trait vs. nontrait conceptualizations of intrinsic/extrinsic motivational orientation.” Motivation and Emotion 16: 209-230. 5

Harter, S. (1981). “A new self report scale of intrinsic versus extrinsic orientation in the classroom: motivational and informational components.” Developmental Psychology 17: 300-312.


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3. - Social and Personal Development The model previously explained related motivation with school achievement, but putting to much emphasis on the intellectual competence, assuming that this is the first goal of children at school. However, there is evidence that the social worlds of children should not be excluded from models of classroom motivation and school adjustment. Attribution theory is concerned with how individuals interpret events and how this relates to their thinking and behavior. Heider (1958)6 was the first to propose a psychological theory of attribution. Heider believes that people act on the basis of their beliefs, whether these beliefs are valid or not. Heider introduced the cognitive balance theory which impose that if two or more persons share the same attitude, the same experience, and the same idea or framework, this will have influence on the relation between the two involved persons. This theory is built on the works of Mead (19347) who explains that taking others perspectives and sharing the same collective idea or attitude is often based on what we think of the other person (symbolic interaction theory). Also influenced by George H. Mead, Newcomb (19618) introduced his A-B-X theory saying that common orientations toward an object or a person (X) will have an impact on the relations between these two persons (A-B). It is not the context where to develop all these theories, but the evidence is that relation between expectations and attributions is consistent conducts and group relations. The effects of co-action and audience have been studied specially in the area of Psychology of the Motivation. Famous Triplett studies, as the situation of cyclists who pedaling strongly if they were with other cyclists, shows that being with other people activate body energetic resources, that means “effect of co-action” (Triplett, 18989) Audience effect means that people in a passive way perceive whatever the target is showing. This effect has a double result: on the one hand this technique could improve personal skills because the person who works feels observed, but on the other hand could cause the worst effects in observed individual. The explication of that is related with individual skills and probability of expected response. In fact when we have a high probability of good response, yield and motivation improve. Also we could have the opposite response if it probable a bad response, but in both of cases the presence of other people increases the activation and provokes the dominate response.


Heider, F. (1958). The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations. New York, Willey.


Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self and society. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.


Newcomb, T. (1961). The acquaintance process. New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston Inc.


Triplett, N. (1898). “The dynamogenic factors of pacemaking and competition.” American Journal of Psychology 9: 507-533.


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Again these effects share the same principles, if the expectation of a response is high, probably will happen, especially if that response is within a group that act as an audience. If students expectations of showing good response in front of their school mates, then it will probably occur, in the other hand if the group expectation are poor, probably the student observed will failed. In the sport fields, these effects have been widely studied, as everyone can see when a football team play at home, generally the supporters provide the best context to get the best results (audience effect) Gall (1998)10 . In order to apply these theories into the educational field, we have to consider the own perceptions of the students, and the expectations that their class-mates generate in relation to academic achievement and their behaviour towards others. Nick names, and popular stereotypes probable make “bad” students to become even worse, and the positive behaviour because rarely is expelled, rarely will occur. To encourage the positive side, the positive expectations about their own competences, will make a change in their own beliefs, and own and others expectations. It is crucial that teachers realised of the important of their perceptions as well, and the influence that they have in the classroom. The phenomenon is the same for the teachers; if two teachers share the same thinking of X, then and following the cognitive balance theory, their own relationship will be encouraged as long the share the same perspective. This strong relation will become even stronger when it can be confirmed by facts. Then a selective perception of the facts observed that confirmed their point of view will be perceived, and X will be called again, the best or the worse, until their perception became a theory difficult to question. X then assume that perception and the audience effect increase the probability of showing just what the others are expecting. Attribution become a fact and hearing effect gets results, if we have promoted negative behaviour we will obtain that. However, if we had based our way of teaching in positive behavior we would obtain positive results. 3.1. Classmates Classmates serve as potential companions and friends, meeting important social needs of the developing child. However, they also represent a very salient social reference group that invites intense social comparison. In addition, the approval or disapproval that classmates display can have a major effect on a child’s or adolescent’s sense of self. “Among older children and adolescents, it is one’s classmates who primarily represent this more public “generalized other” (Mead, 1934). Thus, the peer environment within the school context looms large as a critical determinant of one’s sense of worth as a person” (Harter, 1996). Self-esteem is profoundly influenced by factors within the classroom setting; following Mead (1934) social interactions with others shaped the construction of the self. Harter has examined the correlations between perceived approval from parents, teachers, 10

Gall, K.R. (1998). An examination of the relationship between arousal levels of athletes, motivation strategies, and performance. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol. 58(7-A): 2585.


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classmates and close friends. In late childhood and adolescence, classmate support correlates most highly with self-esteem (.50 to .60), followed by parents (.59 to .56), teachers (.40 to .45), being the less important the close friends (.35 to .40).Clearly peer support in the form of approval from classmates is critical to self-esteem. When classmate support is not forthcoming, on a daily basis, rejection, disapproval, or neglect are critical for low self-esteem and their sense of personal worth. The difference between the influence of classmates and close friends, could be explained following Mead (1934), and the support from others in a public domain may better represent acceptance from the “generalized other” and can be perceived as more “objective” or commonly accepted than the support of the close friends (this that’s not mean that close friends are not relevant; in fact they have an important function as a secure psychological base from which one can reemerge to meet the challenges of the generalized other). Classmate support is most critical to self-esteem, however, the impact of teacher support is not trivial, and higher teacher support resulted in higher levels of self-esteem. Also, this support compensated family support. Those children with low support from both, parents and adults, had low self-esteem, whereas when teachers were high support their scores on self-esteem were higher. 3.2. Teachers’ role The role of the teachers is crucial in the perceptions of students, and their relationships with students have a huge impact on the processes in the classroom. In the previous study commented, teachers rated on the third place, in relation to self-esteem (Harter, 1996); in this sense Nordalh (200211) found that this relation is related to the social competence of students (.60), in the general attitude towards school (.31), in the involvement in problem behavior (.44), and in pupils attitude toward teaching practices (.60). In the same sense, the research of Bru and Thuen (1999 12) conclude that the positive relation between the pupils and the teachers reduces problems behavior in the classrooms as well as it increases the pupil academic concentration. Birch and Ladd proposed three distinct features of the teacher-child relationships which are particularly important for young children: closeness, dependency and conflict (Birch and Ladd, 199613) these features could be applied to adolescents, in particular in the transition to elementary and secondary school. Closeness is reflected in the degree of warmth and open communication that is manifested between a teacher and a child and may function as a support, as the children seem comfortable approaching the teacher, talking about feelings and experiences. This 11

Nordahl, T. (1998). “Er det bare eleven?” Nova Rapport 12.



Birch, S. and G. Ladd (1996). Interpersonal relationship in the school environment and children's early school adjustment: the role of teachers and peers. Social motivation: understanding children's school adjustment. J. Junoven and K. Wentzel. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.


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closeness may facilitate positive affect and attitudes towards school, supportive teachers will increase school motivation and involving in school activities and in this manner may encourage children’s learning and motivation. Dependency can be constructed as a relationship quality that interferes with children’s successful adjustment to school. Optimally in supportive relationships, it is considered adaptive for closeness to increase over time and for dependency to decrease. Children very dependent on the class teacher may be tentative in their explorations of the school environment, they may feel less motivated to explore surroundings or other social relationships; negative feelings toward school, as well as loneliness and anxiety are common between children who display high levels of dependency. Conflict teacher-children relationship functions as a stressor for students, and may impair successful adjustment to school. Conflict relationships are conceptualized by discordant interactions and a lack of rapport between teacher and child. It may be related to children becoming disengaged or uninvolved in addition to negative school attitudes. Wentzel, trying to find out what students understood by a supportive teacher, examined a sample of students (middle school). He asked them to write down three things that teachers do to show that they “care” about them, and three things that show that they “don’t care”. Responses were categorized into four dimensions: democratic interactions as a demonstrated respect, recognition individual differences (social and academic), high expectation for achievement, and positive encouragement and feedback. When teachers showed that behaviours, they were perceived by students as people who had interested in them, but when they were authorities or disrespectful with them their relations turn into troubled. On the other hand, Wentzel points out the importance of develop social goal activities, given that there are evidences of being related with better school adjustment (Wentzel, 199614). Firstly, emphasizes the importance of setting up goals, as a cognitive representation of future events, and can be powerful motivators of behavior; secondly, research on achievement goal orientations are suggesting that school adjustment requires the pursuit of multiple and often complementary goals, both social and academic. There is evidence to suggest that student’s pursuit of prosocial and social responsibility goals is related to their levels of social acceptance by peers and teachers, and studies also show the pursuit of goals to behave in prosocial and socially responsible ways have been related consistently with academic motivation and performance (Wentzel, 1996), and students who pursue multiple goals reflecting social as well as academic objectives are those who are most successful at school (Wentzel, 1996 pp 227). However, research on classroom processes that correspond to promote prosocial skills and socially responsible behavior has not been very extensive; although in all Western Educational Systems the “development of socially integrative skills has long been a primary function of the schooling process”. Wentzel tried to explore ways in which 14

Wentzel, K. (1996). Social goals and social relationships as motivators of school adjustment. Social motivation: understanding children's school adjustment. J. Junoven and K. Wentzel. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.


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student’s pursuit of goals to be prosocial and responsible is related to interpersonal support with teachers and classmates. Results indicate that students’ feelings of helping and cooperation and to follow classroom rules are related to perceived social support from teachers and peers. These findings were solid.

4. - GOLDEN5: Intervention model proposal Role of the teacher seems to be crucial improving school adjustment of students and increasing their self-esteem. At the same time, they also play an important role as a mediator of the social perception of their classmates. Teachers can change perceptions and expectations of students. If they indicate the positive aspects of them, probably the group will start to change. When some members of the group modify their expectations about other students, the “audience effect” could make the whole group to change. This will reinforce positive self-perceptions of such students, who will end up responding better and improving their own development. TEACHERS

SOCIAL PERCEPTION GOLDEN STUDENTS School Motivation Self-esteem School Adjustment School performance

The teaching staff must have an appropriate set of tools and abilities to understand the operation of a group, and to be able to manage it suitably. They must also have enough resources to build suitable and positive relationships with their students, to create a climate that facilitates the relations and the learning processes in the classroom. It is also important to consider the flexibility in the learning; the diversity must be dealt as a classroom that offers a variety of activities, in accordance with general characteristics of the teenagers, and equally different to adjust to the needs and particularities of every pupil. Finally, the implication of the families is necessary in order that changes of social perception and self-perception might take place.


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In short, it will consist of creating an atmosphere of suitable relations, where the whole of pupils can be considered to be Golden. Basing on these principles we propose to select five areas, In order to improve the classroom climate all these areas should be developed. To do this we propose a number of key-steps related to each one that can be easily implemented by teachers to improve the classroom management ant to help the needy students.

1. Classroom management 2. Building relationships 3. Social Climate 4. Adjusted learning 5. Family-school relation


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This paper can be used providing cite the original source and the web page. All the information in this web, is subject to copyright

GOLDEN AREAS: classroom management Maria Jose Lera, Knud Jensen and Frode Jøsang, (2009). Classroom management. In

1. Classroom management and pupils behaviour 2. How do we understand the leadership in the classroom? 3. Golden 5: Proposal of key steps

1. Classroom management and pupil’s behaviour Definitions of ‘classroom management’ are varied, but usually include actions taken by the teacher to establish order, engage students, or get their cooperation (Emmer and Stough 2001). Contemporary classroom management research was influenced by the studies of Jacob Kounin and his colleagues (1970). Kounin follows an ecological psychology model, focused in environmental features and its influences on children behaviour. He identified a set of teacher behaviours and lesson characteristics including involvement, smoothness, overlapping and group alerting. 1. Involvement – To pay high attention in classroom and personal process, always knowing what is going on. 2. Overlapping – the ability to deal with many things at the same time. 3. Smoothness – to react in a proper way when things are critical and to secure that classroom processes are fluently. 4. Variation – to change and reorganize when they are not going too well. He was also interested in whether managerial behaviours that work with regular students have the same effects on students identified as disrupted in the class. The answer is yes, at least in a whole class behaviour setting (Kounin 1970). These researches helped to move the focus from reactive strategies to preventive strategies and from teacher personality to environmental and strategic components of management. These investigations and their results helped to change the focus of interest, from “reactive” strategies of management to "preventive" strategies of control, and knowing how to act for preventing problems. Also it went from characteristics and personality of the teaching staff to show the relevance of the strategic and environmental components for controlling and how our abilities to influence in them. In other words, it has gone from more passive to more active perspective.


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The classroom is a place with a lot of daily stress both for children and teacher. Following Nordahl, teachers have to cope with four different behaviours that influence the classroom-learning climate (Nordahl 1998). A.- Behaviour, which influence upon the teaching process and the pupils learning process. It is about distraction, small talk, disturbing others and teacher etc (30 to 60 % of the pupils are participating in that kind of behaviour sometimes or regularly) B.- Social isolation, which includes loneliness, withdrawal, depression and lack relations. (10-30 %) C.- Out acting behaviour with conflict making, aggression, opposition and testing classroom rules and regulations. (12-30%) D.- Norm breaking and criminal behaviour that consist of severe bullying, stealing, violence, truancy etc (1-2%) A lot of teachers are having daily strain about such problem behaviour and it erases a lot of personal feelings. There are several reasons why teachers get upset about pupils behaviour. One reason is that it is testing out the teacher’s ability in class leadership. Another reason is that it inflects the teachers feeling about coping and mastering his job in general. The third reason is that problem behaviour very often is felt as a personal attack on the teacher’s integrity and values. Roland ( 1991) points out 5 essential factors which is common for those teachers: (1) They are not god at dealing with turbulence in classroom and to manage difficult conflicts and situations, (2) They are not good at confronting pupils with normal classroom behaviour and standards, (3) they are not good at taking the pupil’s perspective in classroom situations, (4) They lack competence in organising classroom activities and to plan and perform a good educational session and (5) They are not spontaneous and use very little humour. Teachers who cope with classroom management often have quality in classroom processes. There are three important skills concerning classroom management. (1) One is the ability to be predictable and clear. (2) The second is to be able to manage conflicts and turbulent situations. (3) And the third one is to be able to reflect upon your own strategies and reactions and to be able to change. Therefore classroom management is not only related to strategies play out in the class, it has also another important area, teachers’ attitudes, beliefs and interpretation of the situation, which is one of the keys to improve classroom management skills.

2.- How are we understand the leadership in the classroom? Teachers can have different perspectives in their leadership. One teacher is “strategic” which means that the most important thing for him is to fulfil what he had planned for the session. Pupil’s questions and pupils own experience is an obstacle and he does not allow matters, which can stop him or change the structure. The opposite is a “communicative” teacher. He is very interested in dialogue with pupils, pupils


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understanding is important for him, pupils relevance and pupils engagement. Often a teacher has balance between these two roles in order to manage classes. A teacher who bases his management upon dialogue and relations will also be called a pupil –oriented class leader. Interaction with pupils and between pupils is essential, and critical and reflective pupils are his main objective to create. He uses a lot of group – work activities and cooperation. Pupils attitudes and pupils values as well as classroom climate is important issues to develop. The opposite is the traditional teacher. It is based on routines and rules, control and monitoring and emphasize upon pupils fulfilling the classroom role by being quiet, listening to the teacher and following the teacher’s guidelines. The teacher is active, the pupils are passive, so it is called adult-oriented-class leader. The teacher is introducing new matters to the class, then he is asking question to see if it is understood, and at last pupils solve individual tasks. There is a big difference between the teacher being seen by the pupils and the pupils being understood by the pupils. The first one is a teacher shouting and screaming, having a high-volume voice in general and who often set ultimatums with a lot of prestige connected to it. The latter is a teacher who is working systematically with misbehaviour on a private level and who is dealing with problems in a communicative way that is approved by and understood by the pupils. They understand why and find the teachers strategies appropriate. The teacher oriented to the pupils, is a teacher who is systematically working with the bad conduct at a low level that approaches the problems of a communicative form (relational) that doesn’t have solutions, but that share what knows and are validated and included/understood by the students. All students understand him/her and find the appropriate strategies. In spite of the different perspectives, teachers can have also different attitudes leading classes. Different authors point out different classifications, and basically they defend a continuum. In one extreme is the attitude of non-control. The teacher’s leadership is weak and he does not confront pupils with standard behaviour. The reason for this can be his own insecurity, his low competence or perhaps his desire of being very popular with his students by not confronting them. Under such leadership significant pupils in class will often play an important role and the class will rule the field. The opposite attitude is the over-controlling teacher who is monitoring everything all the time. All details are important and all misbehaviour should be focused on. This teacher role often creates a lot of classroom stress and negative fuss. One extreme attitude is the paranoia. The teacher is regarding all misbehaviour as a personal attack upon himself in person or on his classroom management and teaching process. This teacher will often loose his temper and will often find scapegoats among the pupils. In the middle of this continuum will be the attitude of control, a safe teacher using clear strategies and who is able to create a positive learning environment with positive feelings and relations towards the class and the individual student. In the same line of enquiry Lewis (1999) shows another classification of attitudes into three theoretical models, referred to as interventionist, interactionist, and noninterventionist. The first reflects government by guardianship, this view presumes that


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students are not able to govern themselves; the other two approaches provide opportunities for students to have voices.

Different experiences are being carried out in this sense, including aspects related to teacher’s emotional support and positive effects on students (Bru, Boyesen et al. 1998). Bru, et al. point out five important factors (Bru, Stephens et al. 2002): (1) A teacher whom the pupils feel as a safe emotional base. (2) A teacher who is skilled at imparting his own subject to the pupils. (3) A teacher who allows pupils to have influence in their own learning process. (4) A teacher who overviews classroom activities. (5) A teacher who can adjust his classroom management to the individual pupil without favouring pupils. In the same direction, Norris has developed the Social and Emotional Learning method (Norris 2003), or Zipora Shechman, from Israel, who is working with affective teaching as method to enhance classroom management (Shechtman and Leichtentritt 2004).

3.- GOLDEN 5: proposal of key steps In fact, several authors have begun to reconnect classroom management with instruction and teachers’ personal traits such as caring (Weinstein 1998), morality (Hansen 1993), or manners (Richardson and Fallona 2001). Manner in teaching is referred to a teacher’s virtuous conduct or traits of character as played out or revealed within a classroom context. Virginia Richardson examined continuity and changes in teachers’ manners. The moral and intellectual traits of character that emerged in her analysis included fairness, caring, commitment to educative goals, and critical analysis of one’s own practices and theories (Richardson and Fallona 2001). Style or modes is understood by the virtuous conduct of a teacher or the revealed characteristics of character within the class context. Virginia Richardson examined the continuity and the changes in the styles of the teachers. The intellectual and moral characteristics that emerge from their analysis include: justice, consideration, commitment with the educational objectives and critical analysis of the own practices and theories. Different experiences are being carried out, including aspects related to emotional support and positive effect on students (Bru, Boyesen et al.1998); students mention the most important five factors for them (Bru, Stephens et al.2002): (1) Teachers with solid and sure emotional bases (2) Teachers with skills and expert on their topic (3) Teachers that allow students to influence their own learning process (4) Teachers that supervise in a global way the activities in the class. (5) Teachers that can pass go from a global control management to personalise one In the same research line, Norris has developed the Emotional and social learning method (Norris, 2003), and the Israeli Zipora Shecthman, is working with the


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affective teaching as a methodology to encourage the control of the class (Shechtman and Leichtentritt, 2004). In order to contribute to this field, we propose a serial of steps that can help teachers to improve the structure of the classroom, the relation and control, and the values and solving problems. 1.- Starting up KEY STEP: Progression: Build up a system of managing behaviour using non-verbal cues for group attention, (as it could be raising hands), informing about expected behaviour, being a model of relations, such are get nearer to pupils, talk low, etc… The next structure is the teacher’s focus. What kind of strategies will he use if he wants the class to listen to him, giving instructions, explaining something? Some teachers will shout, some will be quiet and wait for the class to calm down, some will nag, some will moralise. Others will use clear strategies as to clap three times or other distinct signs to the class. What you do in this structure is very important. Do your strategies make more stress and fuss, or do they help you to be in focus. KEY STEP: Attention: Pay attention to and praise in whole class positive behaviour or behaviour you want more of. The third structure is the activity process, the pupils work session. In this process flow and continuity is very essential. The teacher has to focus upon the pupil’s activity and to maintain the pupils` concentration at task. The easiest way of doing this is to have focus on helping pupils, stimulating pupils, get their attention toward the books and the task, focusing of positive behaviour and what the teacher want the pupils to do. Bad behaviour and disturbing activities must be dealt with in a private matter and be solved with as little energy as possible. KEY STEP Flow and continuity (do not let behaviour interrupt lessons or work in classroom, by trying to go on and deal with behaviour at the same time. Examples we can use is look at the person into his eyes, resolve conflicts in low levels. The fourth structure is transitional stage, when class activities change from one to another, from one classroom to another, from one subject to another. These transitional stages have to be made smooth and often have to have the right momentum. KEY STEP: Momentum: Be sure that you organise activities and give messages in natural following sequences. The fifth structure is the conclusion of the session. This is the reflection part, what have we achieved, what was good, what did we learn, what is the teacher satisfied with and what do we have to have focus on next time.

KEY STEP: Anchoring and prospecting. This step consist in organise time for anchoring and prospecting at the end of each lesson. It is important for the students what have been done and learnt, what went good last time and what are we going to learn and do today or in this lesson.


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2.- Relations and control On the first level the task is to establish control by using strategies, to be well prepared So that you can deal with misbehaviour in a proactive way. KEY STEP: Proactivity: Solving problems on low levels ( private, low voice, near the pupil, before or after class) Non-verbal cueing Incidental language Take-up time Behavioural direction Rule reminder Blocking (stop), partial agreement Thanks, at the end instead of please The next issue is to secure control by keeping up the pupil’s concentration by communicating with pupils and do small corrections and regulations. KEY STEP: Visual help: Some teachers over-rely on an auditory approach to teaching, however we know the importance of visual cueing: write all your messages and prescriptions for work on the blackboard or on the working sheet (Rogers 2002), pp. 45. The third task is to see signs of and be aware when you loose control. In this phase pupils are less concentrated, don’t listen to the teacher, make more noise and the stress in classroom is increased. KEY STEP: Preactivity: Think out what can happen and be prepared KEY STEP: Show unexpected behaviour. Look for behaviour-patterns between pupils or between you and the pupils and try to break them by doing something else than you normally do. 3.- Values and problem behaviour Sorting problems in classroom often needs strategic effort on three levels. KEY STEP. Timing : Deal with the problematic behaviour as soon as possible. The first level is called the adjusting level. Here the teacher uses closeness, low talk, eye contact, reminders, walks among the pupils, give the pupils alternative ways of behaving i.e. KEY STEP: Developing a plan of rules and rights. KEY STEP: Matching: Sort out that your reaction adjusted and seems reasonable to the problematic behaviour. It is important not escalate the conflict, as it is high level at the beginning, go down again, smile, thanks, and look into the eyes.


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KEY STEP: Reactivity: Talk to the pupil after lessons and make agreements of what to do next lesson or talk about alternative behaviour or inform upon your reaction/consequences if negative behaviour continue

References Bru, E., M. Boyesen, et al. (1998). “Perceived Social Support at School and Emotional and Musculoskeletal Complaints among Norwegian 8th Grade Students.” Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research 42 (4): 339-353. Bru, E., P. Stephens, et al. (2002). “Student´s Perceptions of Class Management and Reports of Their Own Misbehavior.” Journal of School Psychology 40 (4): 287-307. Dreikurs, R., B. Grunwald, et al. (1982). Maintaining sanity in the classroom. Classroom management techniques . London, Taylor & Francis Ltd. Emmer, E. and L. Stough (2001). “Classroom management: a critical part of educational psychology, with implications for teacher education.” Educational Psychologist 36 (2): 103-112. Hansen, D. T. (1993). “The moral importance of teacher's style.” Journal of Curriculum Studies 25 (5): 397-421. Holton, S. (1999). “After the eruption: managing conflict in the classroom.” New Directions for teaching and learning 77 : 59-69. Kounin, J. (1970). Discipline and group management in classrooms . New York, Rinehart and Winston. Lewis, R. (1999). “Teachers' support for inclusive forms of classroom management.” Inclusive education 3 (3): 269-285. Newhouse, R. and M. Neele (1993). “Conflict resolution: an overview for classroom management.” International Journal of Educational Management 7 (3): 4-8. Nordahl, T. (1998). “Er det bare eleven?” Nova Rapport 12 . Norris, J. (2003). “Looking at classroom management through a social and emotional learning lens.” Theory into practice 42 (4): 313-318. Ogden, T. (1987). Atferdspedagogikk i teori og praksis, Universitetsforlaget. Richardson, V. and C. Fallona (2001). “ Classroom management as method and manner.” Journal of Curriculum Studies 33 (6): 705 - 728. Rogers, W. (2002). Classroom Behaviour . London, Paul Chapman Publishing.


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Shechtman, Z. and J. Leichtentritt (2004). “Affective teaching: a method to enhance classroom management.” European Journal of Teacher Education 27 (3): 323-333. Weinstein, C. S. (1998). “I want to be nice, but I have to be mean: exploring prospectives of teachers' conceptions of caring and order.” Teaching and teacher education 14 (2): 153-164.


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This paper can be used providing cite the original source and the web page. All the information in this web, is subject to copyright GOLDEN AREAS (2) Building relations Joanna Szymanska and Joelle Timmermans (2009). Golden area. Building relations. In

1. - The importance of teacher-student relationship 2.- Targeting At-Risk Students and Teachers 3. - Teacher-student relationships across the teaching career 4. - Golden 5: proposals of key-steps

1. - The importance of teacher-student relationship The caring relationships are one of the most important “protective factors” building children resilience, especially the ones growing up in dysfunctional families. Werner and Smith’s (1989) study, covering more than 40 years, found that, among the most frequently encountered positive role models in the lives of resilient children, outside the family circle, was a favorite teacher who was not just an instructor for academic skills for the youngsters but also a confidant and positive model for personal identification. Furthermore, a caring relationship with teacher gives youth the motivation for wanting to succeed. The role of teachers is crucial in the perceptions of students, and their relationships with students have a huge impact on the processes in the classroom. Teachers are rated on the third place, in relation to self-esteem (Harter, 1996); in this sense Nordalh (2002) found that this relation is related to the social competence of students, in the general attitude towards school, in the involvement in problem behavior, and in pupil’s attitude toward teaching practices. In the same sense, the research of Bru and Thuen (1999) conclude that the positive relation between the pupils and the teachers reduces problems behavior in the classrooms as well as it increases the pupil academic concentration. Klem and Connel (2004) studies show a link between teacher support, student engagement and academic performance for both elementary and middle school students. Students who perceive teachers as a caring, well-structured learning environment in which expectation are high, clear, and fair are more likely to report engagement in school. Middle school students were almost three times more likely to report engagement if they experienced highly supportive teachers. Adolescents need to feel teacher are involved with them, know them and care about them. They also need their 19

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autonomy support. In conclusion, authors proposed school reform models and developed strategies for creating personalized environments for youth. Noam & Fiore (2004) in overview show the essential role of relationships in growth, learning, and healing of adolescents. The most academically successful schools are those where students feel attached to and respected by teachers. Students respond best to teachers who make them feel “cared about”. Positive relationships with nonparent adults gave students a sense of belonging; help them to create a cohesive identity, and to learn psychological and social skills. Clinical and developmental theories argue that positive relations with teacher are particularly significant for students who face socioeconomic, emotional and educational disadvantage. Its may help alter children’s negative views of themselves and of others, even if these views have been created in negative family. In author’s opinion, teachers often don’t understand the meaning of the term “positive relation building”. Many teachers think it is a kind of group therapy which requires special competencies and methods. Also Stuhlman, Hamre and Pianta (2002) suggest that many students’ problems, as lack of motivation, disengagement and misbehavior respond with the absence of support, highly controlling management and discipline policies in middle school. On a basis of results of large studies they point the importance of building maintaining supportive, caring relationships between teachers and students, and benefits for adults and adolescents. Birch and Ladd (1996) proposed three distinct features of the teacher-child relationships that are particularly important for young children: closeness, dependency and conflict. These features could be applied to adolescents, in particular in the transition to elementary and secondary school. High Closeness is reflected in the degree of warmth and open communication that is manifested between a teacher and a child and may function as a support, as the children seem comfortable approaching the teacher, talking about feelings and experiences. This closeness may facilitate positive affect and attitudes towards school. Supportive teachers will increase school motivation and involving in school activities and in this manner may encourage children’s learning and motivation. Low Dependency can be constructed as a relationship quality that interferes with children’s successful adjustment to school. Optimally in supportive relationships, it is considered to be adaptive for closeness to increase over time and for dependency to decrease. Wentzel (1996), trying to find out what student believes as supportive teachers, examined a sample of middle school students. He asked them to write down three things that teachers do to show that they “care” about them, and three things that show that they “don’t care”. Responses were categorized into four dimensions:  Democratic interactions as a demonstrated respect,  Recognition individual differences (social and academic),  Right expectation for achievement,  Positive encouragement and feedback. 20

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2. - Targeting At-Risk Students and Teachers Stuhlman, Hamre and Pianta (2002) claim that more focused intensive strategies can also improve relationships between specific teachers and students who might be considered at-risk. At-risk students may include those who are disciplinary problems, who have particularly stressful home situations, or who appear alienated from their peers. At-risk teachers may include first-year teachers, those with particularly difficult students or classes, or those showing signs of burnout. Teachers who work with at-risk students need to become more aware of how their own thoughts and feelings about those students may either prevent them from meeting the student’s needs or help them to ameliorate their difficulties. With an increased awareness of student potential, teachers are able to make productive changes in their interactions that can contribute to their growth and development. For example, the Cleo Eulau Center, a nonprofit agency in Palo Alto, California, sends mental health workers into elementary and middle schools, where they spend time in the classrooms, develop relationships with teachers, and work with teachers on such relationship issues as:  Understanding student’s challenging behaviors and preventing those behaviors from interfering with successful relationships  Enhancing awareness of and belief in the abilities of students,  Developing a repertoire of ways to convey the highest possible expectations for students,  Becoming more aware of, and having increased belief in their own abilities,  Recognizing the importance and power of one-on-one encounters with the students. Providing support to specific teachers usually benefits all students, even the support is focused on a teacher’s relationship with a particular student. Since the classroom is the setting where students are asked to perform on a daily basis, making it a more supportive environment may have more immediate and longer-lasting effects on outcomes such as attendance, motivation and behavior. Positive relationships with teachers are important tools for promoting the success of adolescent students in and out of school. These relationships become particularly important for students in meeting increased demands for self-reliance and the developmental challenges associated with adolescence. There are a number of steps that principals can take in improving the quality of relationships between adults and students within the school environment. Whichever steps they choose should help promote school success for young people making the transition from childhood to adulthood.


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3. - Teacher-student relationships across the teaching career Brekelmans, Wubbels and Tartwijk (2005) in longitudinal research explored the importance of teacher experience for building and sustaining relationships with students. The longitudinal data set included data on perception of teacher-student relations of 343 teachers that were collected each year during 2-20 years of their teaching career and data on perception of relations with this teacher of a few thousand students. Teacher experience was compared with the amount of his/her influence and proximity in the relationship. The results show that teacher’s self-perceptions and student’s perceptions of proximity in their mutual relations were rather stable. Student’s and teacher’s perception of the amount of teacher influence on average grew in the first six (mainly the first three) years of the average teaching career. In students perception young teachers are more empathic, permissive, uncertain and tolerant. Simultaneously teachers with an Uncertain/Tolerant interpersonal style have relatively low Influence scores. Teacher proximity decreases towards the end of the career. Many teachers working more than twenty five years become less empathic and more restrictive. Authors explain that young teachers have not yet an adequate behavioral repertoire and cognition that are necessary to play a role of a leader. They have a lot of trouble with a control and discipline in class. Due to growing influence most of them learned to cope with problems in providing structure and maintaining order in classroom in the first five years. Some very experienced teachers also have a problem in relations with students. They become more dissatisfied with youngster behaviour and stricter when they get older. Because of the distance, both emotionally and in age, older teachers don’t understand and don’t accept the students’ life style and may be less connected with young people. They prefer passive methods of teaching and don’t agree for student’s activity and responsibility. These high demand and low connection with youth can provoke students protest and stimulate a negative communicative spiral. Huberman (1993) described the modal sequences in the professional engagement of teachers during their career: I.

Phase (1-3 years) called “Survival and discovery”. The teacher experiences a “reality shock”, concern with discipline and management, wide swings from permissiveness to excessive strictness; learning by trials and errors;


Phase of stabilization (4-6 years). Teacher has already got the fundamental educational skills and she or he feels to be a real and effective teacher;


Phase of experimentation with new methods (7-18 years);


Phase of serenity and (or) conservatism (19-30 years). This last phase is also called “Disengagement phase”. The diminish involvement with a job may result in less interest in the lives of students.

All of these authors point out that the insight in the changes that teachers go through during their careers can help in designing professional development activities for 22

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teachers who have specific needs in specific parts of their careers. The first and the last phase seem particularly important. The training and support concerning teacher-student relationship are essential for very experienced as well as beginning teachers. Young teachers need training in dominant behaviour rather and how to establish the limits for student’s behaviour. Training to give students freedom and responsibility may be a prominent part of in-service education for very experienced ones. In addition, training on setting norms and standards in a clear, but not provocative, way may be useful.

3. Golden 5: proposals of key-steps As a summary, we aim to establish a good and safe relation between the teacher and the individual pupil based on mutual respect and involvement. Good relationships with the students will benefit adults as well as adolescents and it will influence the social climate of the class and the school. Positive relationships with teachers are important tools for promoting the success of adolescent students in and out of school. As the most academically successful schools are those where students feel attached to and respected by teachers, the role of the teacher is crucial. To be a ”golden” teacher, it is important to recognize qualities in the individual pupils, to like to be with them and use time together, to show interest and understanding (cultural competences) to the individual student world. It also means to develop personal qualities such as friendliness, emotional stability, externality and some personal attraction. We propose four basic competences and different key-steps for creating personalized and comfortable environments for everybody and especially for the youth. 1. - Caring and closeness is reflected in the degree of warmth and open communication that is manifested between a teacher and a child. Caring contributes to the development of the self-confidence of the student. It’s important for the teacher to recognize his qualities and to demonstrate respect. Students respond better to teachers who make them fell “cared about”.  Use name when addressing child,  Smile and show positive recognition when you meet the student outside the classroom,  Use golden moments to show interest in the child and talk of out-of school matters.  Remember things that the child has told you. Repeat them and show interest,  Be sure to” see” the child at least one time each lesson. (Look at, stay near, praise, help her or him etc).


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2. - Supporting the student means to recognize individual differences (social and academic), to expect high achievement and to give positive encouragement and feedback. Supporting is connected with caring. As the adolescents need to feel that the teacher is involved with him, knowing him and caring about him, he also needs his support with certain autonomy.  Use blank sheets: every day and every lesson is a new possibility.  Give constructive and positive feedback to the child. 3. Modeling and expecting appropriate behavior. It is important to realize that clear differences of power exist within the teacher-students relationships. The teacher will create an environment where norms for appropriate social behaviors are clearly stated, taught reinforced and modeled (referred to Focus 1 - class- management). Such environment provide students, a sense of consistency, stability and predictability, witch can enhance the quality of teacher-student relationship. 

Use social profiles, pupil’s quality or specialty, good work or good behaviour as a common reference in class.

4. Developing skills to build positive relationships and satisfactory classroom interactions. Since a conflict teacher-student relationship function as a stressor for students and may impair successful adjustment to school, a constructive relationship between teacher and pupils is needed, related to the social competence of the teacher and the student. It is important for the teacher (as for the student) to develop basic skills of communication and conflicts resolution. Teachers who work with at-risk students need to become more aware of how their own thoughts and feelings about those students may prevent them from meeting the student’s needs or help them to ameliorate the relationship. Positive relationship and the ability of the teacher to reduce problems behavior in the classroom (Focus 1) will increase the student academic concentration. 

Use humor in classroom.

Try to take pupils perspective in situations of problems and be willing to listen.

Talk positive of the child when other adults or children are listening.

References: 1. Birch S.H., Ladd G.W. “Interpersonal relationships in the school environment and children’s early school adjustment: the role of teachers and peers”, Chap.9,


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P.199-225, in Junoven J. § Wentzel,K, Social motivation : understanding children’s school adjustment, Cambridge University Press, 1996. 2. Brekelmans M., Wubbels T., Tartwijk J. “Teacher-Student Relationships across the Teaching Career”. International Journal of Educational Research no 43, 2005. 3. Eccles J.S., Midgley C. “Stage-environment fit: Developmentally appropriate classrooms for young adolescents, in C. Ames § R. Ames EDS, Research on motivation in education: goals and cognitions, volume 3 (pp.139-186). Academic Press. N.Y. 1989. 4. Huberman, M. (1993). “Steps toward a developmental model of the teaching career”. Kremer-Hayon, Vonk & Fessler (Eds), Teacher Professional Development: a multiple perspective approach. Amsterdam: Swets & Zeitlinger. 5. Klem A.M., Connel J.P. “Linking Teacher Support to Student Engagement and Achievement”. Journal of School Health, September 2004, Vol. 74, No. 7. 6. Noam G.G., Fiore N. “Relationships across Multiple Setting. An Overview”. New Direction for Youth Development, No. 103, Fall 2004, Wiley Periodicals Inc. 7. Stuhlman M.W., Hamre B., Pianta R. “Building Supportive Relationships with Adolescents”. Middle Matters. Fall 2002. 8. Werner E. and Smith R. (1989). “Vulnerable but Invincible: A Longitudinal Study of Resilient Children and Youth”. New York, Adams, Bannister and Cox.


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This paper can be used providing cite the original source and the web page. All the information in this web, is subject to copyright GOLDEN AREA (3) Social Climate Buccoliero, E. (2009). Golden areas: Social Climate. In .

1. The class is a group (or maybe not) 3.

2. Formal, informal, bully leaders


3. Different orientations in the class group


4. The charismatic leader


5. The scapegoat

6. Golden 5: key steps proposal 7. The Chance project in Naples

1. The class is a group (or maybe not) In the first year of high school, on the first school day, groups of boys and girls begin to share a place and a time that is going to be theirs for several years. In that moment – rare exceptional cases– this combination of place and time is the bond among them. They are not a group yet, they can become. According to social psychology, the formation of a group goes through phases. Let’s try to see them, assuming the scheme suggested by Tuckerman. Tuckerman Model of Group Development 7.



What happens


The newcomers take a look around themselves, gather information about each other, and introduce themselves. Harmonies and alliances begin to be built. They feel the need to pause uncertainty.


Relationship issues revolve around resolving dependency issues and testing, making leadership roles clear and getting the group acquainted. The leader with his behaviour is the one who more than others affects the development of a group culture.


Balance within the group is challenged because:


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- the group does not agree on the leader; - there are different way of interpreting the roles; - there are people who wish to modify their role. Leader should provide clarification about role.. Norming

The group plans a new roles structure and sets norms and shared values.


At this stage, the group is functioning efficiently to achieve group goals. The group focuses on the aim for which it was created.


Closure can imply the division of the group (e. g. after the final exam) or affect individual members (failure, dropout, moving,…). It can be wished for or forced.

The process through the different stages is not linear nor simultaneous, which means: - the process can not extinguish or it can be played again. For example a group might never deal with the task, or start a conflict phase after the structure definition; - the duration and modality of passing from one phase to the other can be different for the different group members: for example, while some students have already agreed on a list of procedures for the group, others might still be in a stage of conflict or exploration. Being a forcedly composed group, and being inside an institution, a class deals immediately with a formal task. Nevertheless, its real assumption can be graduated according to the schools and the levels. Besides this progressive acquisition of the task, there is always an initial phase of exploration, in fact the curricular plans for the first year suppose an initial slowness, due to the students’ needs to adapt to the new context. This stage is helped through welcoming projects, a way to sum up, structure and give aims to the process of knowing each other, a stage that in “natural “ situations would be much slower and could possibly never go deeper. The relational development of the class is never definitely set. Moving from exploration to task can be difficult, it involves stops and ricursiveness, which can cause problems especially when there is no agreement on the task to perform, if the context is ambiguous from a normative point of view, or if there is no agreement on the choice of the leader: 9.

1.1.What is the aim for the class?

The formal task of school is certainly to develop learning processes of subjects knowledge or, better, the person itself. Often teachers note that at school “the students come to join together, not to learn”. The adventure that actually involves them is about relationships among them, good and bad, enjoying or suffering.


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Actually even teachers can have personal aims other than or added to teaching. For example helping the partner’s or their own salary when they work mainly outside the school, keeping social relationships going in a difficult time in their lives, and so on. And even for them a little investment in work can be motivated by past frustration or the need to prevent from further bad experience. It is absolutely normal that in an institution, explicit and implicit aims don’t match perfectly as long as, obviously, the parts don’t get to total incompatibility. If, in order to have better fun, the kids need to skip classes, not listen to their teachers, or even make fun out of them, it is evident that learning has no chance. When studying is devalued by the students’ being general or when the experience of the group is based on prevarication, power relationships outnumber learning, which is obstructed because it is less interesting and, anyway, to affirm the supremacy of the kids over teachers and over the school as an institution. 1.2. Do agreed rules exist? The ambiguity of the normative context is present in many high schools where formal rules, starting from school rules, are a weak point. In addition, norms should be functional to the reach of aims; if the task is not agreed, norms can’t be either, especially because in most cases: -

people in charge to not make the rules respected;


possible sanctions in front of those who break the rule are not worth by students;


there is not a process of interiorizing and sharing the principles that inspired the rules for living together in the school.

Goffman had already talked about underground life of total institutions. It is a fact that in an organization, ambiguity is solved through implicit rules created for the group. In schools, we are talking about students, but also about teachers who, at the same time, set rules themselves (even sometimes the rule of not having rules in common) and share codes of education and behaviour with the kids. Working out substitute norms is not negative itself, since it moves from the need of points of reference, an extremely important feature in adolescence and preadolescence, even more among kids who have difficult family or school lives. It is a problem when these norms are created around mechanisms of illegality or prevarication. 1.3. Who has to lead?


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In a more or less evident way, the group feels the need to identify itself around a leader who can be formal or informal, chosen by election, acclaimed or imposed from outside. Teachers have an authority role in the performance of learning tasks, therefore their possibility to perform their leadership function depends first of all on how involved the students are in school. If studying is appreciated, all prepared teachers can be a reference point, beyond personal favour, but when it is not like this, the teacher’s success is left to his/her own charisma or the use of authority, that is, the ability to subdue the kids with the power of fascination or imposition. The class, moreover, has its own inside life, a net of relationships that is suspended if it can’t gather around a point, especially in the first phases of getting to know each other. Numerous kids will try to impose their influence. The identification of a leader comes from a negotiation where every member or group of members will evaluate advantages and disadvantages of the different choices. It is important to remember that the choice of a leader depends on the whole group. The criteria used varies from class to class and even, in time, in the same class. In general, we assume that the leader is functional to the group in the phase it is carrying out in that specific moment from a relational perspective and in the reach of aims (be they about studying or socializing) 10. 11. 2. Formal, informal, bully leaders In a class, we distinguish different levels of leadership that can refer to the same or to different people: a formal level given to the kids who receive a specific duty from the teachers, and an informal level carried out by the students, recognised for their influencing skills, apart from election. In some classes there are even kids, authors of some kinds of prevarication, who could be candidates to become group leaders. Leadership levels in a class Class leaders

12. Tasks and role definition

“formal” representatives

They are chosen by their mates or the teachers to represent the class. They have an interface role towards the teachers and the school from an institutional point of view. They are the “experts of the task”.

Informal leaders

They are charismatic kids who become a point of reference for the group and more than others influence its dynamics.They are the “experts of relationships”. They are characterized by identification in the class and spirit of initiative.

Bullying authors:

They affirm their presence through bullying over one or some kids in particular. Their place in the class depends on the accordance between





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confirmation, not always bullying and the culture shared by the group. accepted as leaders The combination of the different levels varies according to how worth studying is in the general culture, and how this culture sees bullying. Let’s make hypotheses based on observation of two structural dimensions of the group: -

orientation of the class of a collectivist vs individualist kind, according to how much cohesion is appreciated in the group, which requires universality of values, attitudes and behaviours, or according to the importance given to the development of individuality apart from the rules of the group.


Focus on the task vs focus on relationships: depending on the members who give importance to the aims suggested by the school institution (studying, learning, theoretically the global growth of the person) or socialization among peers, seen as independent and, moreover, obstructed by the duties of studying.

Intersecting these two aspects, we obtain four extreme possibilities, none of which is to be found actually as it is. Every class finds its own balance between attention to the person and cohesion of the group, between studying and socializing.


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Types of groups according to the group/individual and task/socialization axis: 13. Class 14. The task for the group matches The group rejects the aims set by the orientatio the school task school and adopts focus on peer n relationships (complete personal growth) 15. Collectivis It is important for everybody to learn Unity in the group is important, which t and develop his/her personality. is reached in the recognition of a There is cooperation in the learning leader. processes.

Those who propose a different model Bullying is rejected by the group from the one prevailing are legitimately because it obstructs the growth of all its excluded (scapegoat mechanism). members. The victim is not helped because he/she is not part of the group. Individualist

It is important that the individual It is important for everyone to affirm emerges with his/her own abilities. their influence onto each other. There is competition in learning. There can be more that one candidate Bullying can be legitimized as extreme to leadership and subdivision of the competition. The victim finds little class in subgroups (various, indifferent support because he/she is considered factions). Bullying can be admitted in inadequate to the situation. order to assert oneself as a leader. Other kinds of bullying are rejected, The victim is not helped because and even those who act them, if they “everyone has to defend him/herself” don’t show willingness to change their behaviour.

16. 17. 3. Different orientations of the class group The scheme presented in the previous chart shows four possibilities. The relational discomfort, or namely bullying, goes across three of them with different expressions and meanings: -

in an individualist type of culture where the class is oriented to studying, bullying, when it is present, is hardly recognized by adults, or it can be functional to organization and it is hard to fight;

in a collectivist kind of culture where the class is oriented to relationships, bullying, when present, finds the support of the majority of mates who recognize the bully as their leader. -

in an individualist type of culture where the class is oriented to relationships, bullying, when present, comes from disruption. No person can give it cohesion, even though some kids may possibly try the escalation to power and one of the ways 31

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to do this is showing their own power though bullying. Even here, the bully victims are many, kids who in some relationships are made victims and in others are able to bully. Differently from the previous case, they don’t have the comfort of an “ideological giustification” or a sense of emulating and belonging to support their bearing and acting bullying. Here the bully victims are a symptom of a deep weekness in the system, to which the class could not react, even as opposing, with an integrated and efficient system of rules. Almost nothing is normed or sanctioned, not by the school nor by the group. The situation has got out of control and the impression is that everyone is against everyone. 18. 19. 4. The charismatic leader He/she who can stand as a leader, that is, he/she is accepted for his values and behaviours, establishes his power on the admiration of some and the fear of others, taking advantage of the carisma he/she owns and can use on others. The kids around him talk abut him as a “nice, intelligent, fun, strong leader, able to defend himself, …”. He sounds like a non common person who “rightfully” can stand out. And according to the shared values on which the leader establishes himself – that is through ways that do not depend only on the most charismatic kid, but are supported by the whole group – the class will set its own inner relationships on cooperation or on competition, or clearly on prevarication. According to some experts, leadership is not a mix of personality features, but an identity strategy, that is one of the possible modalities to reinforce one’s own identity through admiration for other people. There are other ways for doing so. During adolescence, the group is the main point of reference – in some cases more than family itself – in experiencing the self and building up one’s own identity, and the charismatic leader is a person who feeds his/her self esteem through other people’s consideration. If in addition he is not very good at studying, his position risks to be rather marginal, unless he can redeem working out different resources, trying to find a way to forget his sense of unsuitability or difficulty and building himself a positive social identity. The charismatic leader has a role functional to the group because he solves ambiguities, provides clear rules, offers a model to be followed, with his way of being. His relationship to the group is an ongoing exchange. He gives something to others and receives something from them. Among what he gives, we see the strength of his personality and the ability to perform, better than the others, what the group considers as important, be this in the different contests, studying biology or stealing snacks. With his authority, the charismatic leader fills the normative emptiness and the uncertainty moments – which can be serious especially during the first phase of group building – providing a reference model of values and behaviours. From his supporters, the leader receives confidence acting in a friendly and united system, where everybody feels a strong sense of belonging. His followers address him


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with trust, obedience, identification, sometimes even devotion. They will try to imitate him, even though nobody should reach his level in order not to dethrone him. If needed, he may adjust the aim in order to show the audience who is stronger. The inner hierarchy has different layers and develops in complex way. The leader’s helpers can not express disagreement or show they are stronger than him, as not to compromise order inside the class. But they can be examples for others in the class who live in a more marginal context compared to them. In a bullying situation, this is the role of some bullyvictims who suffer prevarication from the bully-leader and then, with his guide or taking him as an example, practice towards weaker ones. Being aware of the attitude towards those who are different, the kid who does not identify in the charismatic leader, very often does not show disagreement in order not to run into mechanisms of exclusion from the group. In these class groups, scholastic engagement is strongly influenced by an implicit inner norm which sets how much students are supposed to study, and not by chance some teachers can tell the difference between a “nice good class” and an “awful class”. The judgment can be general, as a whole, because the kids tend to decide together what the standard scholastic duty should be, even implicitly. The theorists of organizations know how much a tireless worker can be opposed by his work mates until he is persuaded to reduce levels of production. His efficiency indeed, represents a threat to the whole group since the risk is to cause general higher expectations in his superiors. Also in a class with strong corporative cohesion, the level of attention towards school will be generally uniform and the group will sanction those who stray from the average. 20. The scapegoat The mirror of a charismatic leader is the scapegoat. His role recurs in groups in general, and in teenage groups in particular, especially inside school where the combination of kids in the same class is accidental and does not follow a natural process of identification chosen by the kids. The scapegoat summons all the negativity, tensions, troubles, disagreement, accuse, derision of the group. His mates should devote him real gratitude for his function as a firewall. Those who have this function swallow bitter pills every day while the others are delighted by their own harmony. If accidentally the scapegoat exits the group, even temporarily, it is easy to see conflicts arise, hidden until that time, between those who earlier promised each other eternal friendship.


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The choice of a scapegoat is not accidental. In the phase when the group tries to reach the maximum unity around common image and behaviours, values and aims, the scapegoat is the one who more than anyone strays from average. Not willing to compromise his uniformity at all in front of the evidence of diversity – for any reason – the group disqualifies inner disruption and invest it with every negative charge, until they cut off the one who is the bearer. This cut off can be symbolic in the case of student who is continuously derided, alone at his desk, isolated in socializing moments such as during the break or at the gym, but this can also occur concretely in those cases where these kids, shattered by continuous hostilities, decide to get out of the game changing school or class (or to the extreme act of those who attempt suicide). Actually the scapegoat summons all the fears of his mates. In him, they see what they never would like to be or what they fear of becoming, perhaps what they are already and they try hard to hide in front of others. It is known how much homophobia, for example, finds its roots in a hidden, feared, homosexuality. This example is particularly suitable when talking about adolescence, the time when the construction of sexual identity engages and frightens, and the kids (especially male) are afraid of finding themselves different. The exclusion of the boy/girl who “smells bad”, the persistence on body messages or details. “Strange” kids, for their height, weight, body image, lightly disabled people, are often passive victims in high schools. Their diversity is considered a good reason to be disqualified or cut off the group. Exclusion is functional to the “perfumed”, “well dressed” and “healthy” ones, to show and make their own integrity clear. 21. 22. 5.1.When the scapegoat offers him/herself There are groups where there is no need to look for a scapegoat: he/she offers him/herself. In studies about bullying, they assume the name of “provoking victims”. They are kids who invest a lot in school and its dynamics, although in a counterproductive way, at least apparently. Teasing continuously, catching attention, playing with other people’s things, telling lies easy to be found out, and much more, requires a whole lot of energy. When questioned about these kids, their mates say that some kids “deserve” being bullied, they “look for it”. Those who observe the dynamics from inside the group reasoning, tend to share this idea. It is often noticed that teachers strongly dislike these kids. The basic questioning, when preparing a class intervention, goes two ways. The first point to clear out is whether respect is to be gained of received as a gift. We are talking about respect, not about liking or friendship, which imply a personal choice in the relationship with the other. And this introduces the concept of proportion between the affront that a member can do to the group, and what the group is allowed to do to him. The second issue is what pushes some kids to tease their mates when they know well that they are losers and, moreover, why their schoolmates keep responding them, when 34

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they know exactly, since they have experimented over and over again that their mate will never learn and he will behave the same way again. The repetition of these behaviours is part of the mechanism of the scapegoat and plays the same liberating function, with added value: the scapegoat himself seems to ask to be punished. Only meeting closely and carefully these kids’ way of living their weaknesses can be shown. Some of them have suffered prevarications in other contexts and now feel the need to perpetuate their role of losers provoking actively the only role or the most intensely lived among those they have experienced. Others live the extra scholastic time in situation of real isolation from their peers or with very pressing or close-minded parents, extremely protective or entangling, and at school they feel the need to catch attention from others in order to gain a central role inside the group and, perhaps, to signal somehow their discomfort. 6. GOLDEN5: key steps proposal For all the reasons listed, working to favour relationships inside the class means implicitly giving meaning to all the relational aspects of school life, enhancing motivation to study and bettering everyone’s experience. There are some simple things that every teacher can do, and which become efficient when they are shared by different teachers in the class council, or, even better, when they are agreed on by all the teaching team. It is all about being aware of the processes of group building and accompany them with some care: giving confidence about the rule, providing chances for knowing each other, proposing diversity as a value, giving space to the richness that everyone can bring into the group. We indicate here some key-steps you can experience concretely and verify in time. They are subdivided according to the topic: a – structures, rules and routines; b – relationships; c – values.

a. Structures, rules and routines a1. Sharing aims


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There are aims that can be achieved alone. A teacher, for example, even a very good one, can not teach his subject to people who don’t want to learn it. And a sure way to favour cooperation is to involve our partners in the definition of a common aim. In the specific case, the teacher can tell the kids the aims on which his work is based and, in the limits imposed by his role, he can negotiate them partially keeping into consideration the class point of view. Learning aims can then be articulated at an individual level, in order to keep into consideration the potentialities and needs of every student (see the section about individualized learning). Key steps Setting shared aims for the class and for individuals talking with the kids about them, explaining well what is expected from them, agreeing on “differences” in requests or evaluation that a teacher gives to different students, according to their needs or possibilities. a2 – The certitude of rules As we have seen, building a group goes through a phase of uncertainty about rules and roles that have to be applied. A class tests the determination and strength of every teacher in order to understand how far they can go. Also in the relationships between mates there can be different opinions about the right way to behave with others. For this reason, it is very important, especially in a starting phase of knowing each other, to set clear and shared rules in which the group can identify itself and to which the teacher can refer in moments of need, showing that he himself respects and believes in them and inviting the group to behave coherently with their own choices. And rules have to be positive, they should indicate what to do instead of what to avoid, both for the encouraging feeling and attention to the person who starts this, and for a higher degree of definition and precision that a positive rule can have. Key steps Building 3-5 positive rules with the class and referring to them. Rules can be established from the beginning of the school year in a process of negotiation which can be proposed to the kids in many ways. Some hypotheses can be: -

a work with anonymous cards on which every kid writes the rules he/she wants to seat work in class, then all the suggestions are gathered, grouped, discussed, selected and a list of class rules is finally set


ask every student to write in a card 3-5 positive rules in which he/she identifies and then ask the kids to negotiate them first in couples, (asking each couple to reach a group list), then in groups of 4, 8, etc…, moving to bigger levels of consensus.

Note for the teacher: class rules are efficient if they are reinforced and kept alive in time. This means not only sanctioning, but also taking the time to verify if and how the rules are applied, if they are realistic, etc. Otherwise they will be another example of unattended rules of which our schools (and not only schools) are full.


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a3 – Favouring knowledge of each other Group cohesion is higher when all its members can find identification in a specific aim, verifiable and hopefully “special”. This means planning real occasions for the kids to experience that the others are actual resources: because they have ideas, skills, attentions, different and complementary abilities, sometimes better than their own, and because together, as a group, they can empower, recognize and accept every member of the class. Key steps Giving the possibility of doing things together: group work, expressive and laboratory activities, shows, etc… can be real occasions to get to know each other and to learn how to cooperate respecting others.

b. Relationships b1 – In the group there is a place for everyone of its members From a relational point of view, it is very important for every member to hear that there is a place for him/her in the group, that doesn’t necessarily disadvantage the other members. Building a feeling of inclusion in the class means giving the possibility to listen to others and being listened to, to pay attention to the world of mates, knowing that in turn, you will have the chance to be accepted and receive the same space. Key steps: In some occasions give chance to the kids world; for example interviews in turns, or bringing something from home and shows the others something yours, retelling personal or family stories related to specific events or ages or places (being aware and careful when in class there are kids with personal difficult past lives), etc. b2 – Knowledge against judgment or fear Above all we fear what (and who) we don’t know. And often, in the life of a group judgment, prejudice, exclusion are a way to dissimulate the fear of what is different, to isolate it far from yourself, to feel stronger (as individuals and as a group) through the identification of an enemy. But when kids have the chance of knowing each other more deeply, this occurs more rarely. Because fatally they will find out personal similarities, in their personality and in their or other people’s history, there will be reasons for interest and curiosity – and it will be harder to decide that there is someone the group can or wants to do without, in order to live better.


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Key steps: Increasing reciprocal knowledge among the kids: it can be achieved in many ways, and some suggestions have already been given. Even a careful - not too quick - change in the desks assignment, or the possibility to cooperate on specific aims and for definite times, is a way to know oneself and the others better. b3 – Seeing the group as a resource The group dimension is typical of the school context, where the kids are always together with peers, and it has specific features that can not be replaced. In studying or playing, in duty as well as in partying, everyone gives the group what he can, his energy and imagination, his sense of humour, his ability to focus on the aim or the ability to listen to and encourage his mates. In fact, we know that in a good group there is not only a leader, but a spread leadership function which is evident in different ways according to the task the group is asked to carry out. Working as a group means, for a teacher, passing from the idea of the kid’s individual learning his discipline, as if being part of a class were accidental or organizational need, to the hypothesis that group dynamics can favour (or obstruct) learning and, therefore, the teacher’s work is also, and mainly, to lead groups. Actually, at least in Italy, group works are perceived by some teachers as a “risk” because it is more difficult to check and control the class as a whole. This way, at least in the beginning, for a teacher who doesn’t like group work, preparing and leading a lesson with a colleague could be helpful, and he can feel more confident especially in the case of a difficult class. Key steps: Developing group activities to improve trust and peer relationship b4 – From competition to cooperation We learn better what we need to teach. It is a certain assumption in social psychology and pedagogy, although still not used much in schools. Teaching proceeds from those who know more to those who don’t know yet, and not always this has to occur between adult teacher and kid. Moreover, the things taught in school are a lot, and probably taking advantage of the relationship between peers to improve learning means giving little teaching responsibility to different kids, giving value to skills and attitudes of everyone. The way we are going is the creation of an environment where the success of one is given by the abilities of working in group, not from being able to stand out on others. Key steps: Make kids support each other in studying


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C - Values c1 – Autonomy Success in teaching and in general in education, is given by the capability of making learners independent. So, for instance, a great achievement for a teacher is conveying the students a study method, curiosity, passion for his/her subject. The way through autonomy of thought, judgement, choice, etc. occurs during childhood and adolescence through gradual steps which should be proper to age and kids characteristics, as well as adequate to the contexts in which they live. In school, stimulating processes of greater autonomy also in learning means making the kids perceive that we trust them, that we believe they will make it, that we see what is positive inside them and give them a chance to show it. It is obviously not a try, but a process verified in time, which implies adjustments and keeps the teacher constantly involved in the educational relationship with the student and the class, to release or strengthen his function according to what is going on. Key steps: Promoting autonomy c2 – Indicating positive models at an individual level… It is easier for a boy or a girl to learn how to behave properly when they have models to imitate or when it is clear what adults expect from them. In this sense, promoting and giving value to positive behaviours and the kids acting them means providing suitable models of identification and, at the same time, recognising everyone’s skills and potentiality, because all kids - even the most disruptive - have abilities which can be noticed and appreciated. This is very important also to avoid that the class eventually labels some mates in a negative way, because they are worth too often, or never, by their teachers. We know how much a “too perfect kid” or his contrary can catalyse the rejection and dislike of their classmates. Attention to positive ones should not result in the opposite effect of “excessive practice” by the teacher. Key steps: -

Promoting social relationships and appreciating positive behaviours recurrently


Pointing the “best” students as models for the others

c3 – Indicating positive models at a group level The addressee of every lesson is the class. Not only and not much the individual students but them together. Appreciating the positive aspects of the group and the things they do together, talking about what has gone well today or what we have been able to


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do is a way for suggesting a positive look on the growth of the group and its capability of cooperating in the learning process. It is also a resource in order to give a positive feedback to all kids and not only to some, because the students themselves can build group identity, i. e. they perceive themselves as “we”, as part of a unity, which has potentialities and can improve with the help of everybody. Key steps: At the end of every lesson or day, underline the positive aspects

7. The Chance project of Naples: an intervention on school cultural and structural patterns We have seen how a teacher can favour positive relationships among kids in his/her class. This kind of work is not limited to direct relationship, since relations among people are largely determined by rules of living together they have to know and observe, by sanctions applied when the rule is broken, by shared places and times… Meetings inside the Golden 5 European project have given the possibility to see the differences among different school settings, starting from structural issues such as class composition, organization of the weekly timetable, role rules for teachers and students, and so on. What follows is the experience in an “uncommon” Italian school. Its name is “Chance” and it is a school “for second chances” founded in Naples in 1998 at the Spanish Quarters, an area remarked for school abandonment already in middle school years. The project, now spread to other city areas, has the aim of bringing back into the school course girls and boys who hadn’t completed middle school. The Chance school has a very different setting compared to ordinary schools. In the following chart we highlight some of the main differences, distinguishing between structural and cultural features. The former indicate “solid” aspects, that is how things are done: places, time, programs, teamwork, teachers training, structural moments of listening to the kids… The cultural aspects are, on the contrary, about how the school is perceived and seen by its characters and the relationships among them. A temporary conclusion is that school (at least Italian ordinary school) as it is now, as we know it, is probably insufficient and thinking about preventing relational discomfort makes sense in time especially if it means rethinking school completely, experimenting new ways for all those kids – or adults – who know and learn prevarication as life rules because there are no other ways possible, given or produced by themselves, which have the same value, attractiveness and can be applied.


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Italian “ordinary” school and the Chance project compared 23. ITALIAN “ORDINARY” SCHOOL


25. Structural differences Time is filled with mainly theory lessons

Time is used in mainly laboratorial activities

School places are usually anonymous.

School places are projected and decorated by those who live in them

Programs are decided and set by the Ministry.

Programs are flexible according to the kids’ competences and interests.

Teachers are assigned.

Teachers choose to work with these kids and following these methodologies.

Teachers have varied psycho-pedagogical In a psycho-pedagogical way, teachers share a training depending on one’s own sensitivity. training course during the year, which consists of workshops, meetings with outside experts… The teacher is alone in class

Lessons are always team-taught.

Teachers only teach their own subject.

Teachers can teach more than one subject, as long as they have a basic knowledge of it.

Passing from one moment to the next is part of Passing from one moment to the next is marked routine and habit. by rituals planned according to educational aims. The kids speak about the class during class The kids talk about the class, among themselves meetings reserved to them. and with adults, one hour per week, part of the regular school timetable. Teachers discuss during class councils, a few Teachers discuss every week, during a specific times a year. time set within their work hours. A teacher willing to work with difficult kids can Teachers receive constant counselling by a feel alone and overwhelmed by responsibilities. psychologist who helps them in case of difficulty. Teachers are the only adults acknowledged education role.


an The education task is to teachers, caretakers, “social parents” (very often “mothers” who assist the process of growth of the kids).

Contact with social and health services occurs Contact with social and health services is seldom and only in case of serious need. constant and cooperative. In the team there are a social worker and the psychologist mentioned above. Differenze culturali Fist comes knowledge, then its application.

First place is reserved to living skills, therefore the necessary knowledge is taught.


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Teachers have a varied approach to the Teachers work for the general education of their educational aspects of their work. students. Students apply and go to school because they Kids apply and attend the school on the basis of have to, and they don’t know exactly what to a pact that they know, share and sign. expect. The relationship with “difficult” families In the relationship with “difficult” families, involves distance, mistrust and reciprocal accuse. educational alliance is looked for. In case of prevarication, the teacher might not In case of bullying, all the teachers intervene at notice or not react to it. once.

REFERENCES Buccoliero E., Maggi M., Bullismo, bullismi, Milano, Franco Angeli 2005 Chiari G., Climi di Classe e apprendimento, Milano, Franco Angeli 1994 Douglas T., La psicologia di gruppo, Milano, Celuc Libri, 1981 Farr R. M., Moscovici S., Rappresentazioni sociali, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1989 Francescato D., Putton A., Cudini S., Star bene insieme a scuola. Roma, NIS, 1986. Genovese L., Kanizsa S., Manuale della gestione della classe, Milano, Franco Angeli, 1998 Giori F., Adolescenza e rischio: il gruppo classe come risorsa per la prevenzione, Milano, Franco Angeli, 1998 Girelli C., Costruire il gruppo, Brescia, La Scuola, 1999 Goffman E., Stigma. L’identità negata, Verona, Ombre Corte, 2003 Goldstein A. P., Glick B., Stop all'aggressività, Trento, Erickson, 1990 Gordon Th., Insegnanti Efficaci, Teramo, Giunti Lisciani, 1971 Lehalle H., Psicologia degli adolescenti, Roma, Borla, 1998 Lucarini V., Preadolescenti e vita di gruppo, Torino, Elle di Ci,1994 Maggi M., L’educazione socio-affettiva nelle scuole, Piacenza, Editrice Berti, 2004 Malagoli Togliatti M., Rocchietta Tofani L., Il Gruppo classe, Roma, NIS 1990 Matza D., Come si diventa devianti, Il Mulino, Bologna, 1969. Meazzini P., L’insegnante di qualità, Firenze, Giunti, 2001 Menesini E., Bullismo, che fare? Prevenzione e strategie d'intervento nella scuola, Firenze, Giunti, 2000 Menesini E., Bullismo: le azioni efficaci della scuola, Trento, Erickson, 2003


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Novara D., L'ascolto si impara, Domande legittime per una pedagogia dell'ascolto, Torino, Gruppo Abele, 1997 Olweus D., Bullismo a scuola. Bambini oppressi, bambini che opprimono, Firenze, Giunti, 2001 Pietropolli Charmet G., I nuovi adolescenti, Milano, Raffaello Cortina 2000 Pietropolli Charmet G., Ragazzi sregolati. Regole e castighi in adolescenza, Milano, Franco Angeli, 2001 Pietropolli Charmet G., Amici, compagni, complici, Milano, FrancoAngeli, 1997 Palmonari A., Gli adolescenti, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2001 Palmonari A., Speltini G., I gruppi sociali, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1998 Putton A., Empowerment e scuola, Roma, Carocci, 1999 Ravenna M., Carnefici e vittime, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2004 Regogliosi L., La prevenzione del disagio giovanile, Roma, NIS, 1994 Rossi Doria M., Di mestiere faccio il maestro, Napoli, Ancora del Mediterraneo, 2002 Sharp S., Smith S., Bulli e prepotenti nella scuola, Trento, Erickson, 1996 Vegetti Finzi S., Battistin A.M., L'età incerta i nuovi adolescenti, Milano, Mondatori, 2000 Watzlawick P., Beavin J.H., Pragmatica della Comunicazione Umana, Roma, Astrolabio, 1971 Zani B., Polmonari A., Manuale di psicologia di comunità, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1996


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This paper can be used providing cite the original source and the web page. All the information in this web, is subject to copyright GOLDEN AREA. (4) Adjusted Learning Knud Jensen, Frode Josang & Maria-José Lera (2009). Golden area: adjusting learning. In

1.- What is the meaning of Adjusted Learning? 2.- Basic Principles 3.- Adjusted Learning Diversity 4.- GOLDEN: proposal of key steps

1.- What is the meaning of Adjusted Learning? An inclusive school is an organization which provides that all pupils have the opportunity to get adjusted learning within the frames of a common social, cultural and academic community. ( Lysberg og Uthus ,2004) Politically the theory about adjusted learning is standing right in the big gap between the thinking of an effective school with the effort upon results, competition, comparison between schools and countries and the other side with the thinking of an inclusive school which emphasize upon participation, solidarity and equal possibilities, following the principles of UNESCO Declaration of Salamanca, (Mayor Zaragoza, 1994). Reflecting upon adjusted learning we can see two perspectives: 1. Adjusted learning as an individual right for the pupils with special need. 2. Adjusted learning as each pupil’s right to be in positive, individual learning processes. In summary the union of both perspectives result an adjusted learning as an individual right and as a possibility to create an enriched learning environment in schools and classrooms with room for everybody. 44

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The main objective for adjusted learning is to decrease the pupil’s possibility to social comparison with other pupils. The pupil is supposed to look upon his own prosperity and to compare himself with his own progression and individual goals. In this matter he is able to maintain and develop his self-esteem and build up a positive learning identity. Adjusted learning can have two different perspectives. One is the individual adjustment system where each pupil has his individual learning plan based on individual needs, interests and qualifications. Many teachers think this is a utopia and that is not possible to fulfill such individuality in a normal classroom. They think it will be too much work and to many different learning processes to handle at the same time. The other perspective is the enriched classroom model. It means that the classroom environment is full of possibilities and alternatives, and the pupils can choose between different levels, tasks, places and learning strategies. In this matter it is the pupil himself who is monitoring his own learning process. The teacher’s role is to guide pupils in their choice and to organize a variety of possibilities and activities. In both perspectives we can regard the pupil as a subject or as an object.. The pupil is the active part in his own learning process. If it is the teacher who decide everything and who has the responsibility for the adjustment regarding level, contents, strategies etc., we often call it adjustment by quantity. Perhaps the difference is to pay the same attention as the individual needs, than the group needs. An inclusive practice demands different elements: (European – agency, 2001) a.

Teacher’s attitudes.


Teacher’s choice of methods.


Support of working material.


Frames of time.


Competence in how to deal with differentiations.


Skills with an emphasis upon relation building between pupils and teachers.

. 2.- Basic principles The didactical relational model ( Bjørndal and Lieberg, 1978) is one way of planning adjusted learning in a systematic way.


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The didactic relational model (Bjørndal og Liberg, 1978)


Contextu al frame


Pupils’ qualification s

Ways of working

At the moment of planning there are five elements that must be taking into consideration, and trying to make as much connection as possible between them. What do go want to get, the contents to be developed, the ways of work, the different levels of the students and all these aspects within a particular context related to the Peace day, or anything that can be on the interest of students and social background. Many teachers think that adjusted learning is very difficult in a practical way, and they have a lot of bad consciousness because of all the pupils in the classroom that cannot cope. In Norway, a study developed by Marit Mjøs, ( 2005) shows that 75% of teachers are agreed with the principles of inclusive education and adjusted learning. 60% of them think that is difficult to put into practice, and 35% is already putting lots of efforts to implement it. As a general comment they show the importance of the school administration, attitudes and competences to facilitate this process, also they point the importance of teachers working together especially Especial Education Teachers and general ones. To make an inclusive school based upon adjusted learning we must look upon three criteria:


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1. The frames: Economy, The school buildings, the teachers’ competence, Attitudes and Values, Schedules, Learning materials and Curriculum. 2. Processes: The common practice in school and classroom, way of organizing things, autonomy, pupil’s responsibility, pupil’s activity, pupil’s feelings and meaningfulness. 3. Emotions: How pupils feel about their school and classroom emotional, cognitive and social, their expectations, motivation, safety, self – confidence and self- esteem.

To make an inclusive school based upon adjusted learning we can see four main obstacles: (Ogden, 2004) 1. The problem of implementation focus upon how a school with little experience with adjusted learning can change their goals, attitudes, orientation and practice. 2. The problem of variety: How can a school master the variety of pupils with different backgrounds, abilities and competence, motivation, tempo and effort? 3. The problem of relevance: How can we make a school that creates meaning for the pupils, based upon their interest and experience? 4. The problem of control: Increased liberty for pupils and pupil’s responsibility demands a dynamic balance between pupil’s liberty and teacher’s control. More freedom would also require different skills from adults. In an atmosphere of more freedom students develop other learning skills, choose by themselves, establish priorities, and use their time in an efficient way... A good balance between freedom and authority is not easy to achieve. All these problems become less so when compared to the objectives of inclusive education: to decrease social differences, to improve academic skills and the student’s self-esteem. These objectives help create a positive environment in the classroom, encouraging equal participation of all students. The perceptions of the single individual and the group are very important factors which act as an audience. As we remarked earlier on, the group effect emphasizes both the best and worst. From this angle, the student’s subjective perception is essential to understand his failure or success. A strategy to equal these negative perceptions is the concept of Empowerment, which enforces the control and influence of a person in his own life and his learning processes. It will make us feel stronger, safer, confident, and more independent and it will give us more opportunities to achieve our priorities and objectives (Manger, og Wormnes 2005) 47

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The empowerment requires working on the autonomy, or the capacity to take decisions, the feeling of competence, and the influence of the surroundings, the importance and meaning of that person. If the strategies of the Golden Program try to give power to the students, their role in adjusted learning will doubtless affect their approach to the subject and their academic adjustment in general. The importance that the student is active in his learning process is fundamental for the learning development. The activity can be traditional exercises, but one can tell a student is really active when he takes decisions and acts in an intelligent way. It is essential a student takes relevant decisions in his learning process, as the following review taken in Norway shows.

Ref. Elevinspektøreren 2002/2003 18000


a little



% Create your own project.





Choose in what to work harder and in which . subjects to learn more. 18,02




Choose how to work.





Choose how to grade yourself.





Choose when to grade and when to hand in 40,87 projects.




3.- Adjusted learning diversity Adjusted learning can be done in a quantitative or a qualitative way. For “quantitative adjustment” the teachers establish changes for students (ways of working, contents, quantity, and level of difficulty...). “Qualitative learning” is a cooperative process between teachers, families and students. The teacher gives a guide and help, but the student has total responsibility of his own process. It is necessary to adjust the curriculum to the students’ different characteristics and necessities. We must take into account this does not mean changing each student’s


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curriculum, but to approach the needs and create the best working conditions allowing for a great variety of students. The different adjustments mean that the students must be able to choose between many things, depending on what he is going to do, where and how. These are the aspects in which students should have options (Håstein og Werner, 2003), and at the same time they should work on their autonomy, responsibility and general empowerment. 1. Choose what to learn 2. Choose how to learn 3. Cooperate in planning 4. Cooperate in presentation 5. Give ideas, propose solutions and possibilities 6. Take part in the evaluation process In order to make a school based on differentiation and adjusted learning we must emphasize on seven different categories: (Dale og Wærness, 2004) 1. The individual student’s abilities, qualification and special needs. 2. Curriculum and individual working plans. 3. Level and tempo. 4. School-day organization. 5. Learning arenas and learning materials. 6. Ways of and methods of working. 7. Evaluation. This implies offering a diversity of experiences which allows the student’s activities appropriate to their level to facilitate their learning processes and choosing strategies methodologies and evaluation. To introduce diversity in the classrooms, in the teaching methods, is a challenge. To avoid it many teachers would say they are not properly trained, that they teach too many students, they lack equipment; they have to comply with formalities (Skaalvik og Fossen 1995; Dalen 1994). We understand all these reasons, but we need a change in methodology with the basic principle: we need to adapt to diversity.


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The evolution of teaching methods is partially related to the evolution of the mass manipulation strategies developed in Social Psychology. The initial studies from the 40s pointed out persuasive strategies that advertising should use to influence the massmedia. Studies showed that there were clear effects, but the differences and individual needs affected the results. These differences were studied and the interest of the subject was outstanding. It was impossible to pay attention to individual needs, therefore they worked with target groups from the 70s, and advertising is done according to group typology, covering a variety of interest and reaching out to a vast audience. Until then the audience was thought of as passive, but nowadays it is considered active. Concerning education traditional techniques which understood the group as a homogeneous gathering gave way to methods that acknowledged differences, especially individual ones. The change is now to pay attention to the diversity, taking into account the active role of the students. This report concludes that to be able to make an inclusive school we have either to increase the general recourses given to each pupil or we have to redistribute existing recourses through: 1. Use more IT. 2. Use more independent pupils work. 3. Use pupils as a resource for other pupils. 4. Make changes in structures and way of organizing classrooms and lessons.

To fulfill this and make an inclusive school we have to increase the cooperation between the special education and normal education, between the teacher and the parents, between the pupil and the teacher and we have to give the pupils strategic individual help based on learning strategies and building positive attitudes towards school an learning in general Premises for adjusted can be summoned in these points (Werner ,1998) 1. There has to be a constructive and positive interaction between the pupils and the teacher. 2. Each pupil has to be valuated. 3. Safety in learning processes and safety in learning environment. 4. Systematic adjustment through didactic relational model. 5. High learning motivation among pupils. 6. High degree of pupil’s participation and developing pupil’s responsibility.


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To be able to carry through these matters in the daily school life the teachers have to organize structured pupils conversations, systematic learning conversations, processguidance in daily life and systematic meeting with parents to make common priorities. In an inclusive learning environment there has to be a lot of variation and possibility for pupils to choose. The pupils should be able to choose between different tasks, different learning strategies, and different ways of solving problems, to choose where to work and with whom. They should also be able to choose where to seek help, from teachers or other pupils. There also has to be the feeling of valuation, the pupils being seen and confirmed, given positive feedback, and self-evaluation. The individual perspective should be strong where every pupil has a positive role based upon individual qualities and strengths for the benefit of all. Individual cooping and mastering is essential based upon individual interest and experience. And all this should be done in an inclusive atmosphere based upon common experience and mutual respect and task where pupils get social challenges and exchange of knowledge between pupils. In order to offer diversity to students you need to have a variety of activities in the classroom. The classroom can be divided into groups; each of one is given a project according to their capacity of decision under a certain colour: Green project: student centered. (student has great capacity of choosing) Yellow project: student/teacher centered (teacher chooses more than students) Red project: teacher centered (only the teacher decides). It basically offers diversity in the classroom that covers different learning styles, ways of working, levels of difficulty. For example:  Diversity of contents (four subjects)  Diversity of working ways (individual, in pairs, groups)  Diversity of difficulty (easy, with student’s help, with teacher’s help)  Diversity of ways of expression (drawing, writing, handcraft, reading)  Diversity of nature and election: free (creative, the student decides), semistructured (teacher gives certain guidance), structured (guided highly by the teacher).


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Once the students have chosen the project, they must finish it in a certain time which has to be specified. Making projects in the classroom makes activities meaningful for the students. The projects are easy to develop specially in subjects where research is required. History projects are especially creative; they allow students to recreate historical situations, act out historical episodes, and perform ways of live, music, clothing, art... It is easy to group students to work in the classroom at the same time, each in their different assignment. Summon up of criteria for adjusted learning: 1. To stimulate private and not public evaluations. 2. To promote pupils to set individual and common goals. 3. To promote the use of individual learning strategies. 4. To use individual working plans. 5. To focus on individual progress and individual achievement and individual cooping. 6. To use pupil’s interest and experience to increase the pupils feeling of meaning and connection between daily life, future and what they learn in school. 7. To give the pupils both the feeling of mastering as well as challenge. 8. To give the pupils the feeling that doing mistakes and failing is a natural part of learning. 9. To increase the pupils influence in schools and in their own learning process. 10. To make the school more flexible concerning group organization, variety in learning areas (classrooms, group- rooms, corridors, library, school surroundings). 11. To increase the pupils possibility to use own study time within the frames of the school day. 12. To do home lessons at school with adult support for those in need for that. 13. To develop self-evaluation systems for pupils.

4.- GOLDEN: proposal of key steps

This is an example of key steps to facilitate initiation in adjusted learning, pointing out the main aspects we have been talking about like making sure of the interest and choice of the students, taking care of evaluation and the marking process and using teaching resources properly.


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INTEREST AND CHOICE Having the ability of choose is a fundamental characteristic which increases motivation and responsibility. That is why it is important to force the option, quantitative or qualitative. It is good to give five options for them to choose three. If you allow them to research in depth in different subjects, or different ways to tackle them, motivation will be even stronger. (For example, searching information in the computer, encyclopedias, pictures, oral testimonies). Key steps -

Students may choose between different activities, levels or work strategies. Each one must focus on his own abilities and not to encourage comparisons. We need to be sure that students chosen as the ”golden ones” know how to do their activities.

- To take into account the interests of students and their own experiences when it comes to plan lessons.

EVALUATION Evaluation is an everyday routine, but sometimes we are not aware of its importance. The aim of marking process is to know what must be improved. It is not a punishment. From this point of view, it is very important to evaluate with special emphasis on achievements and successes. Later, it is necessary to explain how to solve what is wrong and to give the best strategies in order to achieve it in the future. Key steps -

To mark exercises and books with a green pencil instead of a red one, emphasizing what is right, what can be improved, etc.

This marking process must be private, since it aims for improving the student’s performance, not to disclose his marks as a reward or punishment. Key steps


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Private evaluation of students, neither in front of their classmates nor an official one. To talk to student privately and to give advices about the best ways for improving his performance.


To emphasize learning strategies to improve the autonomy in the learning process.

TEACHING RESOURCES This way of working on diversity requires that teachers of special education and tutor work together in the same classroom. This cooperation may be very positive, since there will be more than one adult in the classroom, and it will be very useful to plan lessons. The function of equals in the classroom has been disregarded so often, but it offers a large diversity in learning strategies, and, at the same time, it allows to use the human resources more efficiently. Textbooks are an educational resource frequently used in teaching, but they are thought to a specific kind of student, so they can not be suitable for the diversity. Textbooks should be one more of the resources in the classroom: reading books, encyclopedias, internet, visits, games, experiments... That is why we emphasize the use of self-taught resources, created or chosen by the teachers for that special group of students. That way, students will perceive it as a sign of interest towards them. This new organization will allow us to do an individualized record and a work planning for each student. Each one will do it at his pace and will obtain his own aims depending on his skills and interests. Key steps -

Special education closely related to the classroom.


To use self-taught resources.


To use self-evaluation ways for the students


To encourage help and support among students.


To give ”golden students” more support in the classroom and to pay more attention to academic fields.


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To use a work planning as a way of learning and individualizing.

References: Bjørndal B og Lieberg S : (1978) Nye veier i didaktikken? En innføring i didaktiske emner og begreper, Aschehoug, Oslo. Dale, Erling og Wærness, Jarl Inge (2004) Differensiert og tilpasset opplæring : Bedre skole nr 1 page 50-55 Dalen, Monica (1994) : Så langt det er mulig og faglig forsvarlig, Gyldendal Akademisk, 3. utgave. European Agency ( 2001) : Inclusive education and effective classroom practice ” . Gundem, B.(1991) : Skolens oppgave og innhold. Universitetsforlaget Håstein , H og Werner, S ( 2003) : Men de er Jo så forskjellige, Abstrakt forlag. Lysberg, Julie og Uthus Marit, (2004) : En inkluderende skole Spes.ped nr 9, page 4-17 Manger , Terje og Fagbokforlaget.

Wormsnes, Bjørn

Mjøs, Marit : (2005) Statped

( 2005)

: Motivasjon og mestring,

nr 4 page 5

Ogden, Terje,(2004) Vi kan lage en romsligere skole , Bedre Skole nr 4 , page 60-65 Skaalvik,E og Fossen, I ( 1995) : Tilpasning og differensiering. Idealer og realiteter i norsk skole,Tapir forlag Werner, Sidsel, (1998) Klasserom for deltakelse, Spes.ped nr 8, page 19-22


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This paper can be used providing cite the original source and the web page. All the information in this web, is subject to copyright GOLDEN AREA (5) Family-school relation Knud Jensen, Frode Joseng and Maria José Lera (2009). Golden Area: Family-school Relation, In

1. - The importance of the relation 2. - Understanding and cooperation levels 3. - The implication of parents 4. - Tools to improve the school-family relations: key steps

1. - The importance of the relation Family-school relation is one of the most important issues in the “Golden 5” project. Throughout Europe the quality and expectations of parent support differs, as well as the practice. Both parents and teachers attitude will be special and unique for every country and school. The main goal of this project is to create a climate of cooperation between parents, child and school to improve children's academic achievement and increase social inclusion in classroom through mutual respect and understanding. There are two main reasons for a link between the school and the parents: a normative reason and a theoretical and pedagogical one. The normative reason is based upon legislation. In the Human Rights Declaration of UN from 1984 it is stated that the parents have the main responsibility concerning their children’s` education (Article 26, point 3) The Norwegian Child Law ( par. 30) underlines the parents important role in bringing up their children, support them and give them education according to their abilities. In the Law of education par.1 it is said that the school’s role in education is to cooperate with parents in bringing up and educate the children. In L 97: 30 it is stated that the parents have the main responsibility for bringing up their children and because of that must have influence upon important school matters. The theoretical frame also underlines the important role of parents in their children’s school success. (Birkemo 2002; Bø 2002; PISA 2003; Siles 2003; Ung I Norge 1992). In an OECD report “Parents as partners in school” from 1997 is analyzed the link 56

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between home and school. The report shows that the parents` contribution has a very important impact upon their children’s school improvement. It stated that it is important to increase the dialogue and cooperation on all levels and especially to build good relations in the early years. A Canadian project (Coleman and Collinge, 1993) shows that the parent’s positive attitude towards school influences the children’s school satisfaction and school motivation. The school must be very obliged towards parents` contribution and cooperation because it is the most important factor to increase the pupil’s outcome from education. It is very important for children to feel that all adults surrounding them are in a positive contact with each other. Data show that children who experience good cooperative networks and who are in positive relations with adults are less at risk developing both academic problems and problems out of school. (Wentzel, 1998; Parra & Sanchez, 2002) 23% of child’s school achievement can be linked to parent’s support. (Berg 2002) There is a great correlation between the quality of family-school relation and the pupil’s school achievement and school adjustment. (Stortingsmelding 14, 1997-98) The two main factors which influence a child’s school achievement are the level of parents’ education and the quality of cooperation between school and home (Nordahl 06) The upbringing and education of a child are the parent’s responsibility, and the school’s role is to support the parents on these two matters. A good family-school relation will have effect on the pupil’s motivation and long term goal setting (NOU, 1995; Wentzel 1998) To feel social support and academic support from parents will influence upon the child’s feeling of being competent, general interest in school matters, school achievement and motivation for relation building (Wentzel, 1998) Children who don’t feel that their parents support them in school matters will be three times more at risk for stress related sickness (headache, stomach, muscle and skeleton problems). There is also a strong link between parents` support and a child’s classroom behaviour, academic achievement and feeling self-confident (Coleman 1996). 2. - Understanding and cooperation levels: Thomas Nordahl (2006) suggests three different levels of cooperation and three levels of cooperation understanding between home and school. Understanding levels: Level 1: Representative cooperation – To participate in parents organisations.


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Level 2: Direct cooperation –The specific meetings and understanding and agreements between children -teacher- parents. Level 3: Indirect cooperation: All the things parents do at daily basis at home to help their child’s school achievement.

Cooperation levels: Level 1: The exchange of information: Both ways. Level 2: Dialogue: Communication and discussing important matters concerning child. Level 3: Contribution and Influence: Important decisions made by mutual agreement. In general, parents are satisfied with information level. 75% feel that they are not in real and equal dialogue with school. 4 out of 5 are not at all satisfied with level three and feel that their influence in school is very scarce. Parents who have good experience with family-school relations normally have children who succeed in school and do not cause any trouble. The more success and the better school adjustment are, the more the parents feel that they are in dialogue with the school and the more influence they feel.

Parents who have children who fail in school would be more likely to feel that family– school relations are mainly based on one-way information. 2/3 of the parents with children who fail in school adjustment think that the cooperation with school is negative and incriminating. (Nordahl 2006) Epstein (2001) suggests a six step models of cooperation between school and home: Step 1: Assisting the parents in upbringing matters. Step 2: Information: To communicate with families about school matters and their children’s progress. Step 3: Voluntary assistance: To invite parents into school to assist in classroom and in activities.


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Step 4: Learning at home. Involving parents in home-work matters. Step 5: Influence: Parents must participate in making decisions concerning their children on different levels in school society. Step 6: Link towards society and school surroundings: Coordinate local resources and services for children and families. 3. - The implication of parents The parents are a very important resource for their children. For them to understand that and to have the feeling of being important, there have to be three main factors present. First they have to feel the meaning. The reasons for helping, the importance of helping and how to help. Secondly they must feel influence, to see that the effort of helping give their child school success. Thirdly they must feel support. To feel that the school and the parents have common goals and to cooperate well on behalf of their child. Parents who feel that they play an important role in helping their children in academic achievement and involve themselves in their child’s education, can also result in facilitate changes in parent’s behaviour. (Apter, 1982) Changes in parent- child relations can have impact on other parts of a system. Changes in a child’s life can lead to changes in family life. A more open attitude towards school could lead to more contact with local society. Mothers supporting their children could more easily revue their own educational situation and start their own academic career. Apter also suggests system of parents groups where parents could learn from each other, get to know each other and be acquainted with other children. However, reports from NOVA (2000-2002) show that the general situation in family– school relation is not satisfactory. Schools are in general not interested in parents who take to much initiative and who care too much. Parents are in general uncertain upon what the schools really expects from them concerning cooperation and relations. Parents do not find themselves as equal participants in school cooperation and feel that teachers are in power. It did also underline the problem of immigrant parents who in general feel uncertain in expectation, have lack of relations and knowledge of other parents and participate less in school meetings. (Vilchez 2004) Teachers have institutional power and a lot of parents feel inferior. They are afraid of the school sanctions. They also think that criticising the school or the teacher will intimidate their child. Parents very seldom experience social support from school, even though the teachers say they do so. Empowering practise from teachers towards parents in order to give them self-confidence is therefore very important. Communication based on social support, praise and encourage is crucial. The feedback towards parents should be accurate and precise to avoid misunderstanding. (Nordahl, 2005)


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Mothers seem to be the most important person in family-school matters (Nordahl 2006). Between 70-80% of the family school–relation is done by the child’s mother. Mothers help their child with home lessons; participate in school meeting and activities. To improve the father’s assistance would have a huge impact on the child’s school achievement. However the participation from the mother or the father has a different influence concerning the child’s performance. (Winquist, 1999) Both parents participation on low class levels are six times more important for school improvement than the influence from school. If all parents in a class would support and stimulate their children equally, it would reduce the average academic variation in achievement by 30% (Desforges, 05) In a report from FUG (2005) concludes with ten reasons for parents why they do not participate in family- school matters: 1. Some parents have small children and no one to look after them. 2. Some parents work at night time/evenings. 3. Some parents don’t feel well in schools because of their own negative school experience. 4. Some parents don’t attend to school meetings because they don’t feel it important. 5. Some parents are stressed and have problems. 6. Some parents feel lack of social network and don’t feel confident going alone to school meetings. 7. Some parents feel lack of language knowledge and think they will not understand. 8. Some parents feel lack of own education and feel that teachers know best anyway. 9. Some people feel they will be misunderstood and that they will not be able to communicate. 10. Some people don’t feel that school matters are their concern. Schools are for teachers. Siles (2003) also points out that there is a link between the general quality of schoolfamily relation in a school and the general quality of the school. He also says that there is a connection between school failure and cultural and social distance between school and home. Teachers who are interested in their pupils` social life and family life will have more motivated pupils because they are more likely to use this information as a base for relevant education. Knowledge of pupils` life history and cultural experience is a good basis for good and safe learning processes among students. (Ericsson and Larsen 2000)


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The family-school relation is primarily a matter of attitudes. The teacher plays a very important role in building up a good relation through: (Chrispeels 1996) For a teacher the relation is bases on: 1. The teacher’s general interest in the individual parents and their special situation. 2. The teachers ability to work with own stereotypes towards certain families. 3. The teacher’s ability to work systematically with the individual pupil, showing special interest, motivates, spends time together with, see qualities in. Cohen (1974) underlines the teachers` responsibility in parent-teacher interaction. He recommends the following components in family school relations: 1. To welcome communication with parents about the child. 2. To communicate his or her dedication, to helping their child learn. 3. To communicate his or her desire to work cooperatively with parents. 4. To listen to parental concerns and goals for their child. 5. To communicate an interest in a complementary manner with the home. 6. To explain the goals and programs in the classroom for the child and the parents. 7. To report the child’s progress. 8. To offer ideas for possible use at home for helping the child’s learning progress. 9. To make use of information and ideas obtained from parents.

The teacher is a professional and has the main responsibility for building up good relations (Nordahl et al 2005). The teacher must have general positive attitudes towards parents in general and regard parents as a resource for their children. To have focused more about future than past is also important as well as regarding that parents have emotions concerning their children. Another aspect is the importance of empowering the parents and emphasise upon their important role. Ericsson (2000) uses the word rand zone in connection with family-school relations. Rand zone is the areas within the connection which is unclear. Samples of rand zones could be whether the teachers can interfere on matters of how families bring up their children, family routines etc. Other rand zones could be whether parents should pay for school equipment or activities or if parents have any influence on school matters such as discipline, sanctions or education in general.


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A good relation between teacher and parents will gain both the teacher and the parent. It will help the teacher to understand the child’s special situation and daily life. (Thomson et al 2004) Through a good relation the teacher can develop realistic expectations towards a child. It would also give the parents realistic and adjusted expectations towards their own child. The parents also have a responsibility concerning the relation between home and school. (Chripspeels 1996; Vilchez 2004). The parents must work with their own attitude towards the school and deal with their own feelings regarding own school results and own school experience. They must involve more into school and in school activities. They must together with the teachers create common expectations towards the child. They must understand that the school and home have a common goal, to increase the child’s success in school. 4.- Tools to improve the school-family relations: key steps GOLDEN The project “Golden 5” has chosen school-family relations as one of 5 important issues to improve children’s school success. The theoretical frames indicate that a good relation between parents and teachers will have impact upon a child’s development and progress. It also shows us that it will have a good effect if both parents support school. To establish a good relation between school and home is a matter of attitude and systemic thinking. The main responsibility for building up good relations always belongs to the professional part, the school and the teachers. However, the parents also have to work with their attitude towards school and education and work with their own feelings and emotions. A systemic approach through “whole school approaches” in order to develop good routines and procedures concerning family-school relation seems to be more effective than individual approaches. Parents who have negative school experiences or who have children with school failure often feel that contact with school is incriminating. They also often feel that the teachers blame them or the child for the lack of success. They also often feel out of power and little influence. The teacher must therefore have strategies in relation building that empowers the parents, have positive attitudes and expectations towards all parents and look upon parents as a recourse for their children. For pupils it is very important to see adults in their surroundings cooperate in a positive atmosphere. It will diminish being at risk for developing both school failure and problems out of school. For the teachers it is also very important to have in mind that parents from other cultures need extra attention and that it is very important to build up positive relations and expectations to them and to integrate them into the parents group. In the family-school relation there often are unclear expectations and demands towards another. It will therefore be important to build up systems and routines which can make clear areas of responsibility and obligation for teachers and parents.


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According to theory and research mentioned above, the effect of a quality relation will be measured on different matters:  Academic achievement  Self-esteem  Psychological health  Pupil’s motivation in school  School adjustment  Long-term goal setting and future planning.  Pupil’s satisfaction in school Key steps: • Make regular phone calls to the parents with a positive message.( can also or instead write in a special contact book for these 5 children) • See to that the parents of the golden 5 attend to parents conferences by giving them extra attention (special message-phone call-message through child e.g.) • Show interest in the child's family and social life by asking questions. • Go through the”home curriculum” with the parents in the class as a whole or with the parents of the golden 5. ( see in appendix) • Organize family groups in the class ( groups of parents taking pupils out on activities once a month) • Make learning contracts between responsibility and improvement. •




Make a parents-bank in the classroom where parents put in their contribution (help-assistance-driving-baking-inviting class to work/farm-tell class about special interests/travels or helping in class. e.g.)



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Apter, Stephen (1982) Troubled children/Troubled systems: Pergamon General Psychology Series, Berg, Jens Petter: Utdanning 9/2002 side 84 og 86 Birkemo, Asbjørn 2002: Læringsmiljø og utvikling, UNIPUB Bø, Ingrid (2002) – Begrepet: Indre vilkår for foreldreskap. Coleman, Peter and Collinge J (1993) : Seeking the levers of change: Participant attitudes and school improvement. In: School effectiveness and school improvement 4 : 1 Coleman, Peter and Collinge J (1996) : Learning together : The student/parent/teacher triad. In : School effectiveness and school improvement , Volum 7 , page 297-323. Crispeels , J ( 1996) : Effective Schools and Home –School-Community partnership Roles : A framework for parent involvement. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, Vol 7 pp. 297-323. Cohen, S (1974), Family reactions to the handicapped child. New York : Hunter College of the City, University of New York.

Desforges, Charles (2205) : Exeter University : Verdens gang 3/1 page 53. Epstein, Joyce L (2001) : School, family and Community Partnerships: Preparing Educaters and Improving Schools, Westview Press. Ericson , Kjersti and Larsen, Guri : ( 2000) Skolebarn og skoleforeldre, Pax forlag. FUG ( 2005) Broer mellom hjem og skole- Håndbok om samarbeid mellom minoritesspråklige foreldre og skole. Norsk offentlig utredning (NOU) 1995: kap. 12 Norges almennvitenskaplige forskningsråd (1992): Ung i Norge


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Nordahl, Thomas (2000): kartleggingsundersøkelse







Nordahl, Thomas (2006): Skolelederen 01, page 6-7. Nordahl, Sørlie, Manger, Tveit (2005): Atferdsproblemer blant barn og unge, Fagbokforlaget. NOVA (2000): Rapport nr 8 NOVA (2002): Rapport nr 13 OECD (1997): “Parents as partners in school” Parra, Oliva and Sànchez, I (2002).: Parents and peers influences on emotional adjustment during adolescence. Presented inVIII Biennial Congress of the European Association for Research on Adolescente. Oxford, 2002. Siles, C (2003) La coloboraciòn de los padres con la escuela. In Padres y Maestros, 279 pp 10-14. Stortingsmelding 14, 1997-98 Kap. 4 Thomson G, Warron S, Carter L (2004) : It`s not my fault. Predicting High School Teachers who blame blame parents and students for low achievement. In: The High School Journal: 87 , 3 , pp 5-14. Vilchez. L.F ( 2004) : Expectativas de los padres y las expectativas de los profesores, In : Padres y Maestros , 254 pp 22-25. Wentzel, K ( 1998) : Social Relationships and motivation in middle school. The role of parents, teachers and peers, Journal of educational Psychology, 90, 2, pp 202-209 Winquist, C, (1999). Participación de los padres en las escuelas. ERIC DIGEST.



GOLDEN5 PROGRAMME 19090- 2004-1-COM-1-2.1.

Home curriculum: 1. Talk positive of school, teacher and education in general. 2. Discuss things and news being in focus in society or among youngsters. 3. Attend to and speak positive of all meetings and cooperative activities happening in school. 4. Put your name in”the school bank of activity” 5. Make sure that you are a good cultural model for your children. 6. Show interest for your children's school performance, help them with their home lessons, promote a good learning atmosphere and a good work place at home, help them with school projects, etc. 7. Make sure that your children have books to read and have opportunity to use IT in their learning process. 8. Make sure that your child have a good nutrition and enough sleep.


GOLDEN5 PROGRAMME 19090- 2004-1-COM-1-2.1.

This paper can be used providing cite the original source and the web page. All the information in this web, is subject to copyright GOLDEN PROGRAMME: Keysteps Lera, MJ, Jensen, K., Josang, F., Buccoliero, E., Szymanska, J and Timmermans, J. (2009). Golden programme. Keysteps. In

KEYSTEPS FOR 1. Classroom management 2. Building Relations 3. Social Climate 4. Adjusted learning 5. Family-school relations


GOLDEN5 PROGRAMME 19090- 2004-1-COM-1-2.1.

1. CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT Aims : 1. Create pupils consentracion and working atmosphere in classroom. 2. Promote pupils learning 3. Create prosocial attitudes and build positive values in classroom. Skills/basic : A. To deal with several things at the same time. B. To know what is going on in the classroom and to show to the class that you are aware. C. To be able to communicate with students and class so that you can explain your reactions to them and make them understandable and reasonable. D. To know about the social life and social structures among the pupils in class ( who is in power, who is popular, who is lonely, etc) Keysteps: 1.1. Flow and continuity: don’t let behaviour interrupt lessons or work in classroom, by trying to go on and deal with behaviour at the same time 1.2. Attention: Pay attention to and praise in whole class positive behaviour or behaviour you want more of. 1.3. Proactively: Solving problems on low levels (private, low voice, near the pupil, before or after class) 1.4. Progression: Build up a system of managing behaviour (looks at, use signs, get nearer the pupil, talk low and inform about the expected behaviour) 1.5. Preactivity: Think out what can happen and be prepared 1.6. Reactivity: Talk to the pupil after lessons and make agreements of what to do next lesson or talk about alternative behaviour or inform upon your reaction/consequences if negative behaviour continues. 1.7. Matching: Sort out that your reaction adjusted and seems reasonable to the problematic behaviour.


GOLDEN5 PROGRAMME 19090- 2004-1-COM-1-2.1.

1.8. Timing: Deal with the problematic behaviour as soon as possible. 1.9. Momentum: Be sure that you organise activities and give messages in natural following sequences. 1.10. Anchoring and futuring: What have we done and learnt, what went good last time and what are we going to learn and do today or in this lesson. 1.11. Breaking patterns: Look for behaviour-patterns between pupils or between you and the pupils and try to break them by doing something else than you normally do. 1.12. Remembering: Write all your messages and prescriptions for work on the blackboard or on the working sheet.


GOLDEN5 PROGRAMME 19090- 2004-1-COM-1-2.1.

2. BUILDING RELATIONS Aim: Establish a good and safe relation between the teacher and the individual pupil based on mutual respect and involvement. Skills/basic : A. To look for and recognise qualities in the individual pupils B. To be in position, like to be with pupils and use time together with pupils. C. Interest in the individual pupils world. D. Cultural competence : How is it to grow up for this child in this generation in this place at this time in this family and in this class. Keysteps : 2.1. Use name when addressing child and be sure to” see” the child at least one time each lesson. (Look at, stay near, praise, help etc) 2.2. Feedback: Give constructive and positive feedback to the child and focus on positive alternative behaviour. 2.3. Use golden moment to show interest in the child and talk about out-of school matters. 2.4. Positive rumours: Talk positive of the child when other adults or children are listening. 2.5. Positive recognition; Smile and show positive recognition when you meet child outside classroom. 2.6. Try to take pupils perspective in situations of problems and be willing to listen. 2.7. Use humour in classroom. 2.8. Use social profiling; use the pupil’s quality, speciality or good work or good behaviour as a common reference in class.


GOLDEN5 PROGRAMME 19090- 2004-1-COM-1-2.1.

2.9. Use blank sheets: every day and every lesson is a new possibly. 2.10. Remember things that the child has told you and repeat and show interest. 2.11. Teachers presentation: Teacher talks about himself, his life, experience


GOLDEN5 PROGRAMME 19090- 2004-1-COM-1-2.1.

3. SOCIAL CLIMATE: Aims : To create a social climate in class that secure learning consentration, motivation, positive self -esteem and positive relations. Skills/basic : A. To be able to solve problems together. B. Skills in cooperation C. Positive class identity ( we-class) D. Skills in innovation and improvement Keysteps : 3.1. Increase pupils knowledge of each other by interviewing them, with different activities, circle time, social bingo etc. 3.2. Making 3-5 positive rules in classroom concerning relationship and how to treat each other together with the class. 3.3. Systematic social promotion and evaluation (what the teacher and/or the pupils are satisfied with, good at) 3.4. To promote autonomy by focusing on learning strategies and classroom organisation. 3.5. Peers support: Academic support from other students. 3.6. Systematic positive evaluations after each lesson and each day. 3.7. Cooperation; Do things together (projects, art, performance etc) 3.8. Setting common goals for the class or/and individuals. 3.9. Significant: Use positive pupils as models for other pupils. 3.10. Pupils day, when you are in focus (bring a game, family network or a secret from home)


GOLDEN5 PROGRAMME 19090- 2004-1-COM-1-2.1.

3.11. Secret friend activity. 3.12. Using cooperative learning strategies (Johnson & Johnson) 3.13. Conflicts solution in the class: To reserve time for and add models for conflict solution in classroom. 3.14. Emotions: To be able to express own emotions, demands, needs and that the social climate allows you to do so. 3.15. To participate in a prosocial action. (Help somebody) 3.16. Decorate the classroom together. 3.17. Classroom organisation (desks, flowers, drawings etc)


GOLDEN5 PROGRAMME 19090- 2004-1-COM-1-2.1.

4. ADJUSTED LEARNING Aims : To increase the indivudual pupils academic achievement, motivation and to build up accademic self-esteem. Skills/basic : •

Safe learning climate where doing wrong is accepted.

Good relationships with other pupils.

Enrichment attitude to pupils beeing different.

Systematic educational planning using didactic relational modell.

Promoting individual learning motivation.

Promoting pupils influence in their own learning prosess.

Keysteps : 4.1. Choose: Pupils being able to choose between different tasks, different levels or different working strategies. Focus on individual academic cooping. Give the golden 5 pupils tasks which he/she can cope with. 4.2. Green peen: Correcting books and test with a green pen instead of a red one focusing upon what is good, what can be improved etc? 4.3. Private evaluation of pupils, not in front of other pupils or official. Talk with the child in private giving them concrete information of how to improve. 4.4. Focusing on personal learning strategies to improve autonomy in learning process. 4.5. Use of pupils own interests and pupils` own experience when planning lessons. 4.6. Special education within frames of classroom or near connected to the class. 4.7. Using self instructive materials. 4.8. Using systems of pupil’s self-evaluation. 4.9. Pupils as a resource, pupils helping other pupils. 4.10. Giving golden pupils more help in classroom and more attention on academic matters.


GOLDEN5 PROGRAMME 19090- 2004-1-COM-1-2.1.

4.11. Using work-plan as a way of learning and individualising.


GOLDEN5 PROGRAMME 19090- 2004-1-COM-1-2.1.

6. FAMILY-SCHOOL RELATIONS Aims : To crate a climate of cooperation between parents and pupil to improve childrens academic achievement and increase social inclusion in classroom. Skills/basic: Mutual respect and understanding. Keysteps: 5.1. Make regular contact to the parents with a positive message. (Use phone or instead write in a special contact- book for these 5 children) 5.2. Ask parents in conferences or meetings about of how they feel their child cope and thrive. 5.3. Use a questionnaire send out to the parents in advance concerning motivation/selfesteem/academic adjustment/expectations/social adjustment to raise the expectation about their own child. 5.4. Make ”learning contract” responsibility and improvement.





5.5. See to that the parents of the golden 5 attend to parents conferences by giving them extra attention (special message-phone call-message through child) 5.6. Show interest in the child’s family and activities by asking questions to the child and show interest. 5.7. Go through the ”home curriculum” * with the parents in the class as a whole or with the parents of the golden 5. 5.8. Open school day with pupils and parents so that the parents will see the pupils work and desk and classroom. 5.9. Organize family groups in the class (groups of parents taking a group of pupils out on activities once a month in the evening/afternoon) 5.10. Make a parents-activity bank in the class where parents put in their contribution (help-assistance-driving-baking-inviting class to work/farm-tell class about special interests/travels)


GOLDEN5 PROGRAMME 19090- 2004-1-COM-1-2.1.

5.11. Organize conference with teacher, child and parents together with a positive focus. * Home-curriculum 1. Talk positive of school, teacher and education in general. 2. Discuss things and news being in focus in society or among youngsters. 3. Attend to and speak positive of all meetings and cooperative activities happening in school. 4. Put your name in ”family bank”: Parents should put on their names as a way of cooperation. For example, in a paper we can ask the parents, “we can help on: transport, trips, class visits, help with educational material, others”. With this information teachers will organise their participation, according their classes and curricula. 5. Secure that you are a good cultural model for your children. 6. Show interest for your children's school performance, help them with their home lessons, promote a good learning atmosphere and a good work place at home, help them with project etc. 7. Secure that your children have books to read and have opportunity to use IT in their learning process.


GOLDEN5 PROGRAMME 19090- 2004-1-COM-1-2.1.


GOLDEN5 PROGRAMME 19090- 2004-1-COM-1-2.1.


GOLDEN5 PROGRAMME 19090- 2004-1-COM-1-2.1.



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