Integrating Newly Arrived Migrant Students in Schools-Rerun

This is... me...

... Angeliki and I work as a primary school teacher in 1st Experimental Primary School, in Alexandroupolis, NorthEast Greece. I am a life long learner and you can often meet me in MOOCs and eTwining Leaarning Events, Webinars, online and onsite seminars where I'm trying to learn new things to refresh my teaching methods.

...this is my school!!

I teach in 1rst Exmerimental Primary school for about 12 years now. It is the school that I started years ago...as a pupil....
My school's building is one of the greatest and oldest classical buildings of Alexandroupolis. It is the building of the Academy of Pedagogical Studies which took the name from the donor George Zarifis.
My school's main purpose is to become a vibrant learning organization, a creative community of students, teachers, parents, and knowledge.
In this school attend pupils aged 7-12 years old and from 1rst till 6th grade. During the day pupils learn about Greek language, grammar and literature, math's, history, science, geography and they are doing religious lessons. Pupils are also learning English, German and French. They learn simple things about computers and web tools in the school computer lab. During the week they have the chance to come in contact with arts: they attend music course and they have the opportunity to express ourselves through theater and painting. They are also doing gym. After the formal program pupils have also the chance to attend courses in learning clubs.

My school is near the sea, in Alexandroupolis...the same is my home...

Course timeline and events

Module 1: Newly arrived migrant students in the school

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

Challenges that schools faces:

  • even the most basic communication can be a huge challenge in the beginning
  • a teacher cannot do alone, but you need your school management and other partners on board

Task for schools:

  • be curious about the background of their newly arrived migrant students
  • 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

"Successfully integrating newly arrived migrant children in our society is one of the key challenges for Europe at the moment. Schools have a key role to play here, 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."

In the second video, Prof.Dr. Hans Anand Pant of the Deutsche Schulakademie makes the point that the integration of refugees in our school actually provides a good opportunity to rethink schools in general and that the work required to integrate them can be a powerful driver for innovation at schools. Do you agree with this statement? Why (not)?

My contribution: I agree with Prof.Dr.Pant point of view. Integrating newly arrived migrants in our school can be an important key for innovation at schools as it gives us the chance to work on inclusion and cultural diversity. It is not just giving the knowledge to our pupils. More over it is a perfect example for them to have experience in first hand of how all this works.

1.2 Meeting the needs of newly arrived migrant students at school

"The specific needs of newly arrived migrant students coming into schools are as diverse as the students themselves. However, their common experiences of fleeing their home country, often living through harrowing situations and losing loved-ones, sometimes coming from quite basic living conditions prior to arriving in schools, as well as the experience of being in a foreign place, does mean that this group of students often has some specific needs that we at school need to be aware of."

What do you feel are the main needs of your students? Where do they and you require support in addressing their needs? Is it dealing with trauma? Or is it about language support? Do you also have experiences where students have very basic needs such as those outlined by Amber? And how do you meet those?

My contribution: I don't have newly arrived students in my class. But I could define some of the prior needs such as somewhere to stay and ability to speak and communicate their needs. ARSIS, an NGO which takes action in my region, tries to cover these needs, giving children a safe place to stay, having some teachers to learn them the basic of foreign languages, such as German, sending them to the local schools and trying in general to help them overcome their trauma, anxiety and fear.

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 separate classes for a certain period of time or certain subjects, in others they are quickly integrated in classes together with the other students."

Submersion: Children are attending class and regular lessons in the language commonly used at the school. A special support normally is not provided.

Integration: Children attend classes and regular lessons, but they have additional classes in the language of the host country.

Parallel: Refugee children are taught in separate classes from the regular pupils. After one year they should achieve a school qualification that either enables them to transfer to a higher secondary school or to gain access to the job market.

How is the integration of newly arrived migrant students organized in your school? What are the advantages/ challenges related to the way your school organizes integration?

My contribution: There are no refugee pupils in my school at the moment. But as from my experience with Roma pupils, we follow the integration model, highlighted in the video. Pupils attend classes and regular lessons and there is an extra teacher who teaches them in our host language (Greek)

1.4 Organizing support within & outside of school

  • Set up joined projects where little language is used: ex. sports or gardening projects
  • Organize a welcome day
  • Organize a meal where everyone brings food from their country

What support do you receive from your school for your work with the newly arrived migrants? What additional support do you need?

My contribution: As we don't have any newly arrived migrants in my school, it is not organized an official support for my work. And I think in Greece as well as in other countries teachers do not receive any extra support for working with newly arrived migrants. The two videos provided us good ideas, some of them already done voluntarily, which we could use for better results. Courses like this is a great chance for all us teachers who deal with or could face this challenge in the future.

1.5 Example of a community-based project

"Community engagement cannot only be a requirement for the successful integration of our students, it can also be a method to help both our students and us as educators build up exactly the type of community network."

Goals:

  • Discuss participation in society
  • Methodology of sports, video modules, community awareness
  • Teach students to develop their own ideas

Useful steps to organize a community project integrating newly arrived children

  • Come up with ideas for your neighborhood and incorporate children's ideas
  • Use the areal scope that your group can handle
  • Talk to possible partners before hand to create a positive experience for children
  • Involve the children in preparing presentations to project partners

Do you have any ideas for your own community development project, inspired by Jana’s video? Could you easily adopt the RespAct project ideas at your school?

My contribution: I like the ideas suggested by Jana and I think I could easily adopt the RespAct project ideas at my school integrating newly arrived children as well. What could be a possible project to develop? Well, my school is nearby the seaside, so we could organize a seaside cleaning while developing an environmental project integrating the local authorities and also HELMEPA jounior, a related organization.

1.6 Activity: Preparing a development plan

  1. For now we suggest you start to identify all the issues/areas of work you would like to address in the next half year and briefly complete the section outlining the current situation in regards to those issues. You will have to copy the table for each issue you want to address. Of course feel free to already proceed with the other sections but just bear in mind that there will be some more inputs shared in Module 2 which could be relevant to take into account.
  2. Please also already fill-in existing and potential future partners that you and your school could cooperate with to support newly arrived migrant students. Could you tell them about the course and get them involved? Maybe this is a good opportunity to engage with them?

Module 2: Newly arrived migrant students in the classroom

Learning objectives:

  1. Identifying preparatory steps for yourself and your class to welcome newly arrived migrant students
  2. Being aware of some of the specific needs of newly arrived migrant students and how they can impact your classroom work
  3. Understanding when to look for external support
  4. Developing some specific classroom activities that can support newly arrived migrant students
  5. Identifying strategies and activities to facilitate the language learning of newly arrived migrant students
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. Review the development plans of 2 of your peers

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

Try to understand the background of the students

  • Prepare your self
  • Prepare your class
  • Make the new student feel welcome

During the course series, we already stressed several times that we should try not to perceive “the newly arrived migrant students” as one homogeneous group but stress that each student has his or her individual background and story. The point is again made in this section and that some preparation about understanding their background is crucial to making them feel welcome and helping them learn. So to help us imagine this diversity and as an incentive to learn more about your students' backgrounds, share here more about your newly arrived migrant students. How many are they, where are they from, what languages do they speak? How do they feel about being at your school? Did any of them share their individual story with you? Of course please share your students story BUT at the same time make sure to respect their privacy and only share what you feel he or she would be comfortable sharing with a larger audience.

My contribution: I don't teach for the moment at the newly arrived migrant students in my school. But I can remember that three years ago we had in the rhythm club 2 girls from Afghanistan, 13 and 14 years old. They could speak the English language good enough to communicate with us and express their feelings while trying to dance and collaborate with the other girls of the group. I can still remember that no one prepared me and the gym teacher to face them in the way that the experts in the video suggest. We behave according to our feelings and so did the other girls. Before leaving to meet their parents in Germany pupils in NGO, where they were living organized a farewell party and girls invited us to join them. To tell the truth, we all missed them when they leaved our city...

2.3 Supporting specific needs of newly arrived migrant students

"Newly arrived migrant students often have some very specific needs that you as a teacher cannot always support them with."

Useful advice:

  • Find contact who can support you in your work with your students
  • Be prepared for the new arrivals
  • Know where you can find help
  • Let he children know that they are safe and secure (ex. create islands of safety)
  • Relationships outside the family
  • Don't ask them to tell their personal story

Did you experience yourself that your newly arrive migrant students had difficulties you struggled helping them with? Would you know where to find help for them or is that difficult to organize in your school/country?

My contribution: As Nora and Erika pointed out in the videos it is important for us, teachers, to know where to ask for help when we experience ourselves with newly arrived migrant students. Schools on the other hand as well as teachers should be prepared for this and have the necessary contacts to create a safe network of people to work with and support specific needs that newly arrived students have.

2.4 Classroom activities to support newly arrived migrant students

Useful activities:

  • Sports and active games
  • Competition games
  • Music, sing and dancing
  • Storytelling
  • Playing theater

Share at least one concrete ideas for classroom activities that you either already tried or would like to try in your own classroom. In addition, can you think of an activity that could help your “regular students” to be prepared to learn together with newly arrived migrants?

My contribution: We tried at the past the dancing activity and it worked very good as the 2 students joined the dancing group, participated in the team while learning form the others. At the same time they had the chance to do pantomime and body expression exercises and they seemed very pleased.
Other kind of activities we could do in the classroom are the storytelling in an interesting topic such as environmental pollution or outside of the classroom trying altogether to clean he seaside sending an environmental message.

2.6 Supporting newly arrived migrant students with language learning

2.7 How to foster community building in the classroom

Did you try any of these or a similar activity already in your classroom? If so, how did it work? If not, what advantages/ challenges do you see with trying such activities?

My contribution: I am member of the National Network "Living out in nature" and very often I do activities such the ones mentioned in the video by Jana. My pupils enjoy playing trusting games and this helps them develop a trusting feeling in between them. So, I think the idea of doing such games involving local kids and newly arrived migrant children will help to build a classroom community spirit.

2.8 Activity: Finalising your development plan