“If I had the Minister of Education in front of me, I would let him know that the school needs teachers who …”

A few days ago, he presented his book “Teaching without getting hurt” on the Torino International Show. And he left it to open the discussion, in front of a hundred teachers, his fifth-grade students. Interesting discussion points emerged from the debate for the school community, but also for those involved in schools and education.

Professor Gaetano Cotena, Psychotherapist, Professor of Clinical Psychology and Relational Skills at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Brescia and Professor of Humanities at the Lyceum G. Galilei of Ostiglia, in the province of Mantua. Cotena has been involved in relational and emotional training for teachers at all types and levels in the school for many years. In recent days, he has spoken at Turin’s International Book Fair to talk about panic attacks in school, their prevention and the need for the teacher, especially in this phase of growing emotional distress among young people, to represent a stable reference adult for the child and young person, a basic presence for dealing with anxiety and anxiety. the internalisation of a reassuring internal dialogue. Cotena presented his book “Teaching without Getting Hurt” (UTET, 2021), of which he is the author, during a conference hosted by him and Professor Federica Setti, Professor of Philosophy and Support Teacher in the 5U Class by Liceo Galilei, whose students participated as speakers. “The students in the 5U class spoke in an adult and authentic way – explains Professor Cotena – and told us about their experiences in school, first as children and then as young people, and outlined, with clarity and awareness, criticalities and needs for the dimension the school in In front of a hundred people in the audience, including several teachers, 5U bravely shared some reflections that had already appeared in the classroom during the Human Sciences classes.

I felt loved, appreciated, appreciated when a teacher said or did … It is still: “I felt devalued, I retired, I stopped studying a discipline when a teacher said or did …”; “If I had the Minister before meEducation I wanted to let him know that the school needs teachers who know and do …“. It is food for thought, which the students in 5U presented their reflections on, based on their experiences and their school experiences. Precisely the latter, by virtue of their authenticity and concreteness, captured the attention of the whole room, which several times with interventions and reflections actively participated in the meeting.

P.Professor Cotena, how was this initiative born?

“I think the main characters should talk about the school and therefore above all the students. For this reason, I have decided to involve all the students from 5 U at the High School of Human Sciences Galileo of Ostiglia in this presentation of the book that gives them the floor. Before speaking at the presentation, I asked them to pause and reflect on three aspects of the pedagogical relationship with the teachers they met from childhood to high school. In addition to the students in the 5U class, I would also like to include Professor Setti, a support teacher and philosophy teacher, who this year was a support teacher in my lessons with Human Sciences in this class. The teacher therefore lived with me and the class moments of sharing and emotional intimacy with the students, a necessary aspect in my opinion for the school to be a place where one is educated in dealing with emotions, self-control and respect for self-respecting everything else, thus can not only become a duty but also a desire. Together with Professor Setti, I prepared three questions, which the students then answered. “

Why did you decide to involve your students in the presentation of your book in Turin?

“I chose to take the class to the Book Fair because for me it represents an example of a class where it is possible to name one’s own feelings and where it is possible to declare to the teacher and other students his fears, anxiety , naming your own moments of grief or emptiness.Naming emotionality is the first step to being able to cope with it, and therefore for me one can not talk about well-being in school without equipping teachers with psychological skills through which they can create a group culture in the classroom , where each element of group feels to express their thoughts, beliefs and feelings without fear, but with respect for otherness.It is only in this environment that a meeting between diversity is possible, and it is only in such an environment that it is possible for the class to become a microcosm where one can experience a coexistence between different individuals ”.

Why was the presence of this class’ support teacher, as the main character, important in the presentation of the book?

“During these experiences of emotional intimacy, where students learned to use the emotional vocabulary, the presence of Professor Setti was also fundamental. I asked her to be able to speak to the class at the Turin Motor Show because she was an example of this.” school years of teacher who is able to stay at the right distance and adapt to the needs of the students by relating to the class when needed and with the individual when needed.In this precious experience, the teachers followed Cinzia Maietti and Santo Giuseppe Nicolosi also the class ”.

What does it mean stay at the right distance of the students?

“This means feeling the student’s need for intervention or closeness and therefore being able to avoid intrusive interventions that risk diverting the student from pedagogical action. Our classroom interventions have always taken into account the need to respond to students’ needs and not our need to replace the other. “

Do you think the experience is replicable in the abstract?

“What happened this year in our class represents a possible experience in all classes, as long as the teachers really take responsibility and deal with the relational aspect of the class and acquire, where necessary, psychological skills that support him in to build a relational climate or a welcoming climate.class climate.The 5U experience does not stop there, because even though the students are about to graduate, they will be involved in an editorial project “.

How did the discussion develop?

Professor Setti introduced the experience she had with the class by linking it to some content in my book, then five students from the class intervened and told with courage and responsibility some of the experiences they had during their school careers. Some of these experiences have contributed to the good structuring of their identity. Other students in the class told with courage and awareness about some positive and negative experiences of the pedagogical relationship during their schooling from childhood to high school. They also emphasized, as students of the Human Sciences, the need for a teacher selection and education system that evaluates and trains teachers at all types and levels of school in emotional and relational skills.

The first question was: I felt loved, valued, respected and nurtured my passion for a discipline when a teacher told me or did …What appeared?

“It turns out that students felt listened to and recognized when the teacher acknowledged their efforts, when he listened to them or helped them externalize their needs without judging them.”

The second question was: I felt devalued, I withdrew, I felt invaded, I stopped studying that discipline when a teacher told me or did

“The trait that returns in the answers to this question is generally the weight of the teachers’ devaluation towards the students.”

What does it really mean to devalue a student?

“It does not only mean insulting a student. Devaluation also lurks when we downplay the fear, anxiety or sadness of a student or any human being in general.”

If I had in front of me the Minister ofEducation I wanted to let him know that the school needs teachers who know and do … This was the third call. For students, but also for the whole school community …

“The children ask the Minister of Education about teachers who are trained in dealing with their own and students’ feelings. Teachers who are able to make the school a place where it is really possible to combine learning with emotional well-being ”.

Is this not happening?

“Sometimes it does not happen. For example, when the teacher enters the classroom and before he asks the students How are you feeling? deals with offering content or projecting slides. It also happens when the teacher does not create a climate in the classroom where pupils or students can disagree with each other and with the teacher because they educate themselves to respect by offering themselves as a reference model because respect for the other. , rather than telling it, the good teacher shows it by showing the student respected and valued, no matter what the student’s thoughts may be, even where there is an intervention that needs to be corrected because we do not remember what others have said to us with words, but above all that we remember, how they made us feel ”.

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