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The necessary benevolence of the school environment towards our teenagers

Adolescents are not having it easy during this pandemic period. What if benevolence in educational practices could help them get through this period more easily?

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Adolescence is a time of critical transition. The transition from one mode of education to another represents an additional transition that young people have to deal with. What if kindness was in order to help them get through this period more easily?

“Teens have gone through many transitions over the past year; the transition from face-to-face education to distance education, then return to school full-time. This is not without consequences for them. Each time, they have to adapt again, ”says Marie-Josée Marineau-Harnois, advisor at the RÉCIT national service in special education.

And this, not to mention that adolescents have a huge need for socialization and that being around their friends at school is a source of motivation for them. Deprived of social life, many of them have sought new bearings over the past year.

In this context, Ms. Marineau-Harnois calls for the benevolence of teachers. She notes a few things to keep in mind in order to intervene effectively with students in transition (regardless of the situation):

  • Remember that each student reaches puberty on time and experiences it in their own way;
  • Building on the capacity for enthusiasm of adolescents; 
  • Ensure that the school provides support to the student who needs it; 
  • Provide structured classroom management; 
  • Establish a priority in its interventions; 
  • Model collaboration and teamwork with colleagues; 
  • Believe in them to have a long term impact. 

The 5 practices that illustrate benevolence in educational intervention

Ms. Marineau-Harnois invites teachers to take an interest in the 5 practices that illustrate benevolence in teaching. They are taken from the doctoral thesis Benevolence in the school field by Gwénola Réto (2018, University of Sherbrooke and Catholic University of the West, France). We reproduce them here.

1. Show interest in students

· Encourage students to think about and accept the expression of divergent points of view;

· Be open to the different answers given to the questions asked;

· Demonstrate the importance of the pupils learning during lessons and working with maximum use of their abilities.

2. Take into account the basic needs of students (emotional, cognitive, spiritual)

· Propose adaptations of devices;

· Allow the development of an autonomous realization, independent of the help of the teacher;

· Adjust the workload of the students, the time allocated to carry out the various tasks and assessments according to needs;

· Adjust the rules to the context if necessary.

3. Demonstrate concern for students in their practice

· Take into account the well-being of students, the fact that they can be comfortable, interested, motivated in class;

· Implement working methods that allow it.  

4. Do not rely solely on standardized school assessments to guide students in their learning

· See everyone as a person, beyond their results and their work.

5. Show understanding and compassion for students' difficulties

· Promote successes, and take them into account to continue the tireless work of adaptations to be proposed.

· As students progress, underline that progress.

As Ms. Marineau-Harnois points out, many of the elements of benevolence are found in the practices of educational differentiation. “When we differentiate, we are kind to our students,” she says.

When teachers practice these elements, students feel more understood and considered. They will be able to put in more effort and their motivation will increase, she argues.

Marie-Josée Marineau-Harnois presented the conference The differentiated virtual school for adolescents as part of the 46e Congress of the Institute for Learning Disabilities. His presentation is available to everyone online.

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About the Author

Martine Rioux
Martine Rioux
After studying public communication, Martine worked as a journalist for various publications, before pursuing her career as an interactive communications consultant at La Capitale, a financial group, then at Québec Numérique, an organization she took over as general manager before making the jump. as political advisor in the office of the Minister for Digital Government Transformation. Today she is the online Editor-in-Chief and Special Projects Manager at l'École branchée. Her dream: that everyone has access to technology and can use it as a tool for learning and opening up to the world.

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