Special Educational Needs Care for the well-being of the individual within the group. Interview with Anna La Prova

The character profiles present in a class can be different: a good teacher is the one who, knowing the peculiarities of each student’s character, manages to coordinate the educational project with the harmony of the group”.

The harmonious growth project of the person fits into a broad context that involves parents, main educators of their children, teachers and the group within which the educational and training process takes place: the class.

To promote the well-being of the class group, Training, Observation and Counseling are the tools used by CEFA Schools to promote growth and collaboration among pupils.

During the summer session, Dr. Anna La Prova, psychologist and psychotherapist with a cognitive-behavioral orientation and founder of Forepsy, created a focus for teachers on ADHD, OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER, COGNITIVE GIFTEDNESS in Primary and Secondary students, offering them the tools useful for being able to better recognize and manage these disorders and create a positive atmosphere and choral growth within the groups.

Alongside the training activity, at the basis of the teaching activity, during the year observations of some class groups and counseling to the teaching team are foreseen to ensure that a personalized educational project can really be carried out for everyone and shape the relationship with and between children.

A good teacher is not someone who knows what to do in an emergency, a good teacher is someone who has planned things in advance so that an emergency does not happen!

Dr. Anna La Prova answers some questions relating to the value of the focus sessions carried out and the tools offered to CEFA teachers

What were the objectives of the focus on ADHD, ODD and Gifted Children?”

The main objectives were to give teachers specific interpretations to identify early who are the pupils with ADHD, ODD and those who have a condition of intellectual giftedness, in order to be able to plan an inclusive teaching project suited to their characteristics.

What difficulties are encountered in the educational path from a practical and emotional point of view?

The main difficulties experienced by children with ADHD and ODD concern the sphere of self-control. Children with ADHD often fail to plan and carry out their tasks and to maintain attention on the same project long enough to finish it carefully. This makes them experience an important degree of frustration which unfortunately exacerbates already unpleasant emotional experiences. Children with ODD, in addition to difficulty in self-control, also experience high levels of anger and intolerance towards authority, with consequent difficulty in complying with class and family rules and in carrying out learning tasks. With regard to children with intellectual giftedness, on the other hand, they often experience feelings of boredom and depression in the classroom, which can lead to behaviors of hyperactivity and opposition, often mistakenly mistaken for behaviors relating to a disorder.

“What impact do they have on the harmonic growth of the class?”

Children with ADHD and ODD, if they are not managed and included constructively in the classroom, can lead to a slowdown in the normal continuation of lessons, since the teacher must take care of managing any disruptive behaviors. Gifted children can in a similar way but for different reasons interrupt the teaching activity because they require additional stimuli or because they are bored.

“Do Reinforcements and rewards always work?”

Positive reinforcement is a very useful tool in encouraging the acquisition of desired behaviors in students with self-control difficulties, however these strategies work if well designed and included in a token economy program planned in detail upstream and never improvised, which intends reinforce the specific behavior as soon as it occurs. They don’t work if they are extemporaneous and little “thought out”, without fitting into a precise program with specific behavioral change objectives. That’s why it’s important that teachers are well trained in how to plan, implement, and continuously monitor a positive reinforcement program.

“What kind of processes can a teacher activate to approach these problems correctly?”

The first aspect is to observe carefully and be able to reconstruct which moments are most “at risk” of an explosion of anger or frustration. Without good upstream observation, it becomes difficult to intervene effectively.

The second point, once it is clear what the most problematic moments are, is to act in advance: the good teacher is not the one who knows how to manage the emergency, but the one who, knowing the situation well, manages to implement a whole series of strategies so that the emergency does not occur, or occurs as little as possible.

The second aspect is that of always maintaining the perspective of the disorder, in the case of ADHD and the ODD, or of the difficulty in managing certain emotions, in the case of gifted children, in order not to take any provocations personally, but maintaining a neutral and authoritative, never authoritarian or lax, in order to be able to redirect the problematic behaviors of these pupils.