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60 case studies have been identified. The case studies focus on intercultural issues, integration, non-discrimination values and human rights at school.

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Searching for the Good Elements of every Student


Name of the teacher
Maria Karvouniari
Subject taught:
German language
Years of experience:


Name of the School:
Γυμνάσιο Ιερισσού (Gymnasium of Ierissos)
School Typology:
Lower Secondary School


Background and Context:
Τhe Gymnasium of Ierissos / Halkidiki, is a large numerical school. When I first worked ther (year 2011-2012), it had a total of 11 to 12 sections of all the three grade classes. For the exact number of students I no longer have data. It shares the same building with the lyceum of Ierissos, which is also overpopulated, fact that creates additional problems for the management of the two schools' educational dynamics. The schools also serve students from nearby villages (Nea Roda, Ouranoupoli, Amouliani, Gomati and especially the lyceum students that serves also students from Stratoni). As for the building is a downgraded school, with bad condition rooms, equipment shortages, humidity and lighting problems. It has a huge, but unexploited yard. There is only one pair of basket’s baskets and nothing but grass and mud when it rains.
The composition of the student population is heterogeneous socially but also in origin.
We have socially robust families of students, mainly those involved in tourism, but also financially weaker, usually those parents working for the most economicaly stronger. The official unemployment rate is also high. A point of great friction among the students was, ever since, the position of each family about the gold factory in Skouries. The minority of children, whose families are in favor of the investing, accepts great pressure but also exclusion from school everyday life.
As for origin, we have quite a large number of students coming from mainly Eastern European countries (Bulgaria, Russia, Romania) as well as from Albania. Of course, in the year I served as a teacher, the vast majority was second generation children, which means we did not have children who did not have, at least orally, a good level of Greek language. I will estimate that the percentage of children with other backgrounds, overall at school, was 20% to 25%.
In the classes I taught the percentage was about the same. In the classroom I will mention, rate was approximately 30% (in 14 students 5 students was of different origin, 4 girls from Albania, 1 boy from Bulgaria and 1 boy from Romania). To be noted here that the vast majority of these children were together from the primary school. In this classroom I was teaching two hours, not at a continuing row, a week.
Factual Description:
I took the aforementioned classroom almost from the beginning of the school year 2011-2012 until the end. Already from the first lessons, I found out discrimination against my foreign students from a small portion of Greek children (2-3 children). Whether it was about the cognitive background of these students, or subcutaneous comments about their cultural differences, or even direct attacks and racist comments on their origins. Greek students who did not take part in the comments / attacks did not take a position for or against and maintained a neutral stance. As a result, in a very short period of time, it tends to become a notional dividing line between the students of the classroom.The reaction, but not of all, of foreign pupils was initially limited to direct, but subdued verbal confrontation. The two boys from Bulgaria and Romania continued the confrontation sometimes in the break.
When at some point before Christmas, one of the five students (who was a strong and abusive in speech child) was personally assaulted about her manners and her origin, and the mentioned student reacted by hitting the student who insulted her , the problem was exacerbated and was delivered to the teachers' association. Parents were summoned, recommendations were made, but unfortunately was not seek the essence of the problem, nor the dealing of it. The outburst and the tears of the student involved, that she accepts verbal harassment from these classmates from the primary, was treated by the Director and his colleagues, simply with a friendly hit on the back ... and the promise that they will deal with the subject, which It did not happen ...... The pupil was punished with a day of expulsion ......
Here I have to confess with great sadness that over the last previous time I have tried to investigate whether there is a similar situation in the other lessons and to mobilize colleagues to untie it, but I have been condescending to phrases such as "come on they are children, they will solve it" while this situation impeded their educational work because there was not calmness on the classroom.
The difficulty of achieving the teaching objectives in my lesson was great because it took me a lot of time almost every hour to solve the differences that arose among students. My efforts to achieve learning goals were limited to equal treatment of all students and equal distribution of help to them. However, it often outweighed the bad situation among the students. My personal experience as a child of immigrants in Germany has often been the starting point for a debate to ease confrontation.
Activities carried out:
The teaching of the adjectives and the description of persons was that didactic module that prompted me to use this action.
After learning the use of adjectives, their position in the sentence and their conjugation , I gave copies of paper to the students with several German adjectives, which I thought would put them in the μοοδ of action (eg, good-natured, handsome, fair, consistent, clever , athletic, decisive, etc.).
Then I urged them to write on a sheet of paper, anonymous, at least five adjectives, which characterize only the good elements of each of their classmates and to hand me over their papers within a reasonable time. In fact they had to write about also my own good elements as well as I did for all the kids in the classroom. I told them that if they needed additional notions,that they were not on the list they should address to me, so we could fill in the list. Several kids have requested additional adjectives / ratings. While the reaction of some children was initially totally negative, in the continuation of action they all gave me the work I had assigned them and with a relative joy and anxiety about what I would do with them.
After the collecting of the good elements of every child's character, I bought small frames and colored cardboards, and made for each child his own frame, writing in German all the qualities his classmates had attributed to him/her. Then, just before Easter, I spent an hour reading each frame in the classroom, and the children had to guess, according the elements, which child is that.
The joy, the excitement and the anxiety about how their classmates see them was apparent to all children. I was impressed that during the course of the action I had no ironic comment or any other indication of rejection or disagreement. It is also indicative that two of the foreign girls were crying when their turn came and were recognized by their classmates from the good elements of their character. At the end, each child took his own frame so that he could remember how his classmates saw him at this age of his life.
Some parents refered at the end of the year at the event, and said that the frame was in a prominent position in their children's room.
Assessment and lesson learnt:
The contribution of the action was to focus pupils' attention on the good elements of each student and to the possible context to lead to consistency and mitigation of the classroom, I dare to say even the disappearance of any differences.
By the end of the year ,at least in my subject neither one time came up the discrimination phenomena I mentioned above. In personal conversations with colleagues also showed up the mitigation of controversies in this classroom.
As for my point of view of this certain issue, I have to testify that I once again met as a teacher, the same classroom at lyceum of Ierissos (as 1 grade of lyceum this time) during the school year 2014-2015. Special mention was made by all the children who were then in the gymnasium classroom on the photo frame. My two foreign girls even told me how much it had filled them with confidence and certainty about their place in that classroom, that particular action.
Description of the Case Study in National Language:

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.