Starting in a small school
I moved to Denmark on the 1st of February to participate in the 24 month program “Fighting with the poor and Pedagogy”.
This program provides a year long training in Pedagogy while you spend one year working in a small school in Denmark. This system enables you to combine theory and practice at the same time: what I do, I learn, and what I learn, I put into practice… like a circle.
I started to work in one of the small schools just two weeks ago. This STU school is situated in Faxe – Lindersvold and it is a safe place for boys and girls that for some different reasons are not able to be in a public school. For them, the STU school is a three year long training for these students and it runs in parallel with the vocational schools. In fact, it offers a very good program in some traditional subject (like Danish, English, Math, Geography, History…) but the most important thing is the attention that the teachers and the pedagogues direct to the students, indeed most of the time the lesson are one to one.
The STU school wants to be also a training for life, and for this reason the first goal of the teachers and pedagogues is to make the students able to be self-sustaining and to live a decent life outside this place.
In my classroom we have seven fantastic guys with different life stories; most of them live in a care home, so the only support that they receive comes from the teachers. The latter are not just teachers, but also friends for them. It is for this reason that in this kind of school we take great care of the common experiences, and it’s really important to create a common feeling in the classroom between the students and the teachers through little trip around the local landscape or in another country, through the practical action in the school, through the exchange of life stories and feelings, through theatre.
For example, a good chance to create that common feeling could be a little trip to Lithuania in April. This kind of experience is not only to enjoy the time spent all together, but especially to give the students the possibility to know new things, to have new experiences, to see how many kinds of life-style there are in the world.
I have to be honest: sometimes it’s hard. Every time you work with people – with or without special needs – you have to find the right way to be yourself and at the same time you have to leave the space for the others to do the same. If you work with guys with special needs, you have also to be a role model: So, you have to be yourself, but in a good way. I’m trying to find this “good way”, and I think that the training in Pedagogy is really useful for this.
Even though I have some problem with Danish – teachers and students speak their native language most of the time – I’m trying to grasp as much as possible the social interaction between the students and the teachers. I’m trying to understand how they react to different situations in the classroom and I’m trying to understand what is the best for them and what they want for their lives. I think that these two weeks were an observation period, just to find my little place in this classroom and to find my “good way” to be useful for these guys and to leave my foot print in this program.
From this moment, I think that it’s really important to go more deeply in the situations, to switch from the observation period to the investigation period, to ask the students what are their real needs, to ask the teachers for some advice to do the best during the day, to answer some questions of my own about my real motivation and my real passion and to present a concrete project for each student, following also their motivations and passions.
Working with people is a long process: most of the time you can’t see the benefits in a short period, sometimes you just can’t see it. But you can be sure that if you found the “good way” to be yourself leaving the space for the others to do the same, then you left also your invisible touch in each person, and I think that this is one of the goals of this experience.
Federica Caporale from Italy ( February Team 2018)