Integrating Newly Arrived Migrant Students in Schools by Teacher Academy

About me

Hello everyone! My name is Antonietta Guida. I teach English in a secondary intermediate school in Cesa in the South of Italy near Caserta. I taught French for about 14 years but at the moment I am teaching English. I like my job but most of all I like exploring new teaching strategies.

Cesa

About my school

My school is halfway between Naples and Caserta and my students range from 11 to 14 years old but they like experiencing new learning strategies.

Secondary school "F. Bagno", Cesa, Caserta, Italy

In my classes there are no newly arrived migrants nor refugees but only 2nd generation migrants. I often drive my students to explore new tools and to use ICT in the daily learning process in order to solve problem based tasks. Unfortunatly my school is not well equipped so I often have to make use of BYOD devices especially aiming at integration of diversity. It’s a daily challenge worthy to engage the course!

My students at work
ECLIL project
Claiming for human rights
Exploring Hadrian's Wall
eTwinning project
Pottery lab

Integrating Newly Arrived Migrant Students in Schools

The course is part of a 3-part series of courses exploring the topic of cultural diversity, the situation of newly arrived migrants in general and how to integrate newly arrived migrant students in schools and classrooms.

The first course of the series “Cultural Diversity in Your Classroom” offered the opportunity to discuss different scenarios of the positive use of cultural diversity as a learning context, analysed intercultural communication and built a class community as a culturally diverse environment developing cultural awareness in students and teachers. https://tackk.com/m1n

The second course “ Raising Awareness about the Situation of Newly Arrived Migrants” provided a basis for vital knowledge-sharing about the situation of newly arrived migrants in general: migration journeys, psychological impact, the situation in shelters, legal status, human rights as well as intercultural understanding and common values https://spark.adobe.com/page/ol2C4C3E6TpPJ/.

The third course “Integrating Newly Arrived Migrant Students in Schools” will provide the opportunity to recognise and strengthen the class community through integrating classroom activities.

Course Introduction

How to integrate newly arrived migrant students in schools and in classroom?

How to foster other students’ tolerance towards other cultures in general and newly arrived migrant students in particular?

Overcome barriers ! Language, community and tolerance are the main challenges to face with.

A. Timeline & Live Events

Timeline

B. Who you will be working with

C. Your Learning Diary & Support Network

key goal: develop a support network of individuals and organisations able to foster integration of cultural diversity.

My reflections about the course questions as well as elements from the course relevant for my own context.

E. Course Introduction Test

Module 1

Newly arrived migrant students in the school

The Learning Objectives

1. Understand the general organizational models of integrating newly arrived migrant students in schools

2. Understand how school structures and management are important factors for the successful integration of newly arrived migrant students

3. Develop some ideas on how to create a welcoming and safe environment at school for newly arrived migrant students

4. Identify who inside and outside your school you can work with to support the integration of newly arrived migrant students

Integrating newly arrived students in the school is a key challenge for schools related to different socio-cultural backgrounds generating new and special needs.

The first barrier is language: a different language unable even the most elementary communication in the beginning. It's huge challenge for schools but this is a task that a teacher cannot do alone but he needs school management and other partners support. The whole school has to be curious about the background of their newly arrived migrant students and to create a welcoming and safe environment.

1.1 Challenges & Opportunities

“Schools create that important space, where teenagers, as soon as they arrive, can have a life perspective again”.

Niels Espenhorst, Deutsche Schulakademie video

Refugee, asylum-seeking and other migrants have the same right to full-time education as all children in the host Country. In what ways can schools face the demand ? Integrating newly arrived migrant children in our society is one of the key role played by schools but often they lack the experience and external support. Welcoming newly arrived migrant children at the school is a huge task for the school management, teachers, but also all staff members.

1.2 Meeting the needs of newly arrived migrant students at school

Newly arrived migrant students coming into schools often have some specific needs that we at school need to be aware of.

In advance schools must be proactive. Understanding and interaction with social media can help good practice. Students could be encouraged to engage critically with the current issues. Language issues are only one part of the story for many newly arrived students, especially those who are asylum-seekers or refugees. Refugee children might have missed out on education for some time, or may never have been to school at all. Families may be unfamiliar with the host systems and mistrustful of anyone in authority, including teachers. Once they reach their destination country, children may feel the stress of being temporarily housed, poverty, discrimination in the community, and worrying about friends and family.

Good practice suggests to gather and share information for a good education and health care system. Children and their families could be interviewed in order to prepare a good welcome and foster relashionships, confidence and support. Finding out key information such as the child’s name, first language and current home circumstances will help teachers to include him or her sensitively.

1.3 Models of school integration

Schools in different countries but also within the same country organize the integration of newly arrived migrant students very differently.

In some schools, the children are taught in seperate classes for a certain period of time or certain subjects, in others they are quickly integrated in classes together with the other students.

1.4 Organising support within & outside of school

How to arrange things at school level in order that teachers, headmasters and others in the community can effectively support newly arrived migrants’ integration ?

Some general principles to take into account

  • building within and outside of the school networks of colleagues and external partners, allowing for regular exchanges
  • prepare themselves for the arrival of newly arrived migrants at their school for example by organising one whole-school professional development day where potential requirements and actions are discussed with all staff members.

Specific actions at school level could be:

  • sharing experiences with collegues who teach to refugees
  • Meeting among headmasters
  • Regular contact to psychological centres and counceling centres both for children and parents where also the parents can be sent
  • Regular contacts with the families
  • set up joint projects where little language is used such as gardening or sports projects or organise a welcome day or a meal where everybody brings food from their country
  • reach out into their local communities and build up strong support networks

What support can school provide ?

Newly arrived children are generally “traumatised” refugees and require specialist mental health support as they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. All that is strictly related to other stressors such as financial problems and worries about whether they will be allowed to remain. For schools, it may be a helpful starting point to consider that many of these children show great resilience and cope well with school, seeing it as a place of safety and stability. Practical help and advice maybe a helpful starting point as opposed to a therapeutic care plan.

The student’s background often explain his attitude whatever it is. Prolonged periods of stress can give rise to aggression, lack of self-regulation strategies, or can limit reasoning and thinking.

All newly arrived children are people with fewer opportunities. They are unable to partecipate actively to social life in the hosting community becuase of:

  • language
  • bad finance
  • lack of resources
  • lack of additional support

A resilient environment can help schools to provide a useful support. Mediated learning opportunities, mentorship, linguistic support in term of additional language trainig, tailor-made programmes to the needs of migrants children, dialogue, orientation in life, community network and job shadowing can allow integration.

1.5 Example of a community-based project

Why not build a project together with your students to start engaging with the community ?

Community engagement builds up community network. A community-based project could be helpful.

The RespAct project

1.6 Activity: Preparing a development plan

1. Identify all the issues/areas of work you would like to address in the next half year

2. Fill-in existing and potential future partners that you and your school could cooperate with to support newly arrived migrant students

Module 2

Newly arrived migrant students in the classroom

The Learning Objectives

  • Identifying preparatory steps for yourself and your class to welcome newly arrived migrant students
  • Being aware of some of the specific needs of newly arrived migrant students and how they can impact your classroom work
  • Understanding when to look for external support
  • Developing some specific classroom activities that can support newly arrived migrant students
  • Identifying strategies and activities to facilitate the language learning of newly arrived migrant students
  • Understanding the importance of building trust between newly arrived migrant students and your other students and how to foster a community spirit in your class
  • Develop a development plan with concrete steps to prepare or improve the work in your classroom and at whole school level with newly arrived migrant students
  • Review the development plans of 2 of your peers

2.1 Preparing yourself and your class for arrival of newly arrived migrant students

How to prepare your “regular students” for the new situation of welcoming and working with the newly arrived migrant students in a positive way?
What about sharing experiences and resources ?

It sounds really great ! Let's start !

Key goal : Preparation !

It's crucial to prepare yourself and your “regular students” to welcome the newly arrived migrant students in your class in order to understand their stories and their identity !

2.2 Live Webinar: 6th December, 17:30h CET

Let's share ideas and experiences !

2.3 Supporting specific needs of newly arrived migrant students

Many newly arrived migrant students have lived through very difficult or even traumatic situations back in their home country or during their journey to Europe. Sometimes they do not feel safe yet about their present and future in the new country.

It is essential that you know where you can refer them to the external support they need.

But also to create a safe and welcoming classroom environment. “A safe space for refugee students is a safe space for everybody,”

2.4 Classroom activities to support newly arrived migrant students

Sports and games could be good activities for newly arrived migrant students.

“Teachers need to be reassured that they have a lot of really great skills and knowledge about how to work with students,”

Effective strategies for teaching refugees work for all students. Everyone benefits from calm, structured environments and regular routines.

“A safe space for refugee students is a safe space for everybody,”

Refugee students have undeniably come from situations vastly different from their classmates. They’re not just looking for a better life; they’ve fled for their lives.

Activities that don’t require verbal or written language are helpful: sports, dance, visual arts, instrumental music.

Education is key to their future. http://www.teachmag.com/archives/8880

2.5 Live Twitter Chat: 8th December, 17:30h CET

2.6 Supporting newly arrived migrant students with language learning

How to deal with one of the most immediate challenges of teaching newly arrived migrant students: the language barrier.

2.7 How to foster community building in the classroom

Sports activities can be very useful to get different students do something together without using many words. "Sport is an excellent way of breaking down barriers and getting people involved in activities". (Minister for Communities Stephen Williams) https://www.gov.uk/government/news/integration-through-sport-thousands-to-get-involved-in-free-local-activities

2.8 Activity: Finalising your development plan

Thanks to Teacher Academy for the great and helpful experience but most of all to the kind and attentive course moderators as well as to collegues !

Credits:

Created with images by Shadowgate - "Caserta" • Mimzy - "back to school pencils rainbow" • Leo_65 - "board welcome greeting"

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