Case Two: Student B

Towards the end of the school year, the new student-teacher was asked to support “B.” in a one-to-one learning format. “B.” is a 7-year-old student who recently moved from the Czech Republic who had little to no English knowledge. The classroom in which “B.” was placed had a quick-pace and therefore “B.”, trying to meet the classroom standards, communicated and learnt through Google Translate. When working one-to-one on the task, the problem the student-teacher encountered was that the translation of the communication they had was not always reliable and as a consequence, no one knew if “B.” was understanding the task in the correct way and receiving the support needed.

Reflection Questions

  • If this learning format (Google Translate) would continue, what difficulties could “B.” face in the future?
  • Would you adopt this same learning format? If yes, why? If not, which learning format would you adopt?
  • Is the child integrated into the classroom by using this learning format?
  • How does the child communicate with their peers? Do you see a potential social learning barrier? If yes, why? If not, why?
  • What kind of learning barriers is the child facing or could potentially face?

It’s likely that the Student B might be facing a language learning barrier. Although the child has access to Google Translate whilst communicating with the teachers, a lot of information is lost in translation including the nonverbal elements of the language (voice tone, pitch, speaking style, volume, etc.) (Frank, Griffin, Svetieva, & Maroulis, 2015). This could interfere in the quality of information that the student receives and could lead to a potential language learning barrier. As mentioned before, when students face a language barrier they are unable to have strong connections to their environment (Lantolf, Thorne, & Poehner, 2015) which could also lead to environmental or social barriers that could impact the learning of the child currently or in the future.  In order to fully include the child in the classroom on an individual and overall level, the following strategies could be adopted:

Tier 3 – Individual support: Providing Assistance

When developing English skills, students may find it challenging to ask for help due to a language barrier, and that is the reason why the teacher should interact with students throughout an activity or task (Cremin & Burnett, 2018). The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (2018) state that teacher’s interactions with children during planned activities include actions such as questioning, explaining, encouraging, and recalling.

Acknowledging the fact that students who might be facing a language barrier to learning could have difficulty in understanding correctly the instructions of an activity, the teacher should have a one-to-one interaction to be certain the student in question has understood the task.

Reflecting on the case study and on the analysis, “B.” should become more independent without the support of Google Translate, and the teacher could support the student with individual interactions accompanied by a mini-whiteboard or notebook for quick drawings, visuals and keywords for better understanding of the task (The Bell Foundation, 2017).

Tier 2 – Small groups:  Activity centres

Assisting small groups of students and giving the students the opportunity to work independently, is a classroom organisation that allows the development of a classroom inclusion that supports all students’ learning.

The goal of the activity centres is for students to shift amongst the activities and develop their sense of independence, cooperation, and interconnection between the activities. Lastly, all the students will shift to the teacher activity centre where they will have the opportunity to receive the support needed (Hilberg, Chang, & Epaloose, 2003).

According to the Primary Professional Developmental Service (n.d), depending on the number of students in the classroom, create groups of 3 – 4 students according to abilities/strengths. According to the number of groups, create the same amount of activities that relate to the same topic you want to teach. For instance, if the topic of the lesson is shapes, these are some stations that can be used:

  1. Vocabulary centre. The teacher will be at this centre explaining new vocabulary with images and real-life explanation. (Square, Triangle, Sides, etc)
  2. Writing centre. Observe 2D shapes and write their characteristics (Square – 4 sides). The students work independently.
  3. Creating centre: construct 2D shapes with manipulatives. For instance with play-dough, straws and scissors.

In “B.”s situation, the classroom organisation, the teacher’s support, and the peer groupings can help overcome the learning barriers the student is facing, without feeling excluded and having to communicate via Google Translate to fulfil a task.

Tier 1 – Whole classroom:  Keywords of the day and Who, What, Where, When cards

According to Parsons (2019), to include all students throughout a lesson, differentiation strategies could be implemented to facilitate the understanding of the students. Furthermore, all students will benefit from the adaptations by making learning content more accessible (The Bell Foundation, 2017).

Some of the strategies adopted to differentiate in a classroom refer to ways of adjusting communication and presenting information to the students. Analysing the Who, What, Where, When will give the opportunity to all learners to grasp the information in a more specific way, and therefore become accessible to all (The Bell Foundation, 2017).

To facilitate the understanding for “B.”, at the beginning of a class, show the keywords of the lesson to all the students, in word and picture format. Reach an explanation of the words by asking them questions and attach them on a wall, and refer to them throughout the lesson. In this way, they will all be engaged in discovering more about those keywords and “B.” will have a clearer overview of what the topic of the lesson is (The Bell Foundation, 2017).

According to Parsons (2019), to include all students when giving instructions for an activity, the teacher should introduce the “Who, What, Where, When” cards. After explaining the activity, the teacher will raise one card at the time and ask the students to give an answer to the card. Encourage students to rephrase, repeat, and ask questions, so that they all reach a common understanding of the task (Chapin, O’Conner, & Canavan-Anderson, 2013).

Case Study Three: Student  C

“C. ‘is a 7-year-old student. Observations led the student-teacher to state that “C.” did not participate in classroom activities and discussions, and had a noticeable disruptive behaviour. The student-teacher approached the home-teacher asking if any strategy could be helpful, but the latter one did not seem to have much interest in the well-being of the student in question. After working with “C.” on the alphabet that was hanging on the wall on the other side of the classroom, the student-teacher noticed how reading and seeing the letters was a challenge for the student. The issue was then made aware to the home-teacher, who as a consequence informed the parents. A few days later, the student-teacher felt less worried about “C.”s well-being since the student was placed closer to the board and came to school wearing glasses. However, “C.” was not feeling well, and unable to concentrate decided to approach the student-teacher. As a first reaction, the student-teacher asked where the pain came from and “C.” pointed to the head and added: “My mum hit me on my head. It happened many other times when I misbehaved or she was angry. It usually happens when dad is not at home. It hurts.” Overwhelmed, the student-teacher told “C.” to take a break and have some water.

Reflection  Questions

  • If you would have been in the student-teacher’s shoes what would have been your next action? This strategy needs clearer guidelines and explanations.
  • How do you think the child’s home environment affects the child’s learning?
  • Are you aware that there are incidents like this happening (also in International Schools) ?
  • Have you ever looked up the legal actions against child abuse in your country?
  • Could the child be over exaggerating?
  • What other barriers does the child face? Why?


Whilst reflecting on this scenario and based on previously mentioned learning barriers the authors have identified a possible environmental barrier. This can be seen in two ways: firstly, the child might have an unsafe environment at home and secondly a classroom environment that is not welcoming (based on the observation of the student-teacher mentioned in the case study). The student could mirror this barrier by showing “disruptive” behaviour (Polirstok, 2015) as brought up previously in the introduction. Creating an emotionally safe classroom where a student can reach their full potential is crucial towards the learning development of the student (Polirstok, 2015). In this situation, other barriers such as social, emotional and mental could emerge, however it could not necessarily be related to the difficulties in the environment.

Different strategies could be adopted on an individual and overall level to include “C.” in the classroom and make sure that the child feels safe rather than isolated in the classroom:

Tier 3 – Individual support: Asking Questions

According to Nielsen (2006), the teacher should approach the child as support on an individual level. Students need the safety and security of knowing that the teacher is there for them. There are times where the support of an adult is truly needed, therefore the teacher should be aware of the fact that similar situations to the one in the case study could happen.

In the circumstance described in the case study, the teacher should make “C.” feel understood and reassured. According to the NSPCC (2020), different questions can be used to create a safe environment:

  • Let them know they have done the right thing in telling you
  • Reassure them but do not make promises
  • Tell them it is not their fault
  • Tell them you take them seriously
  • Explain to them what you will do next, for instance, inform the classroom teacher
Tier  2 – Small Groups:  Developing understanding about feelings

To ensure a harmonious and inclusive environment, the teacher should consider creating a safe, welcoming, and stimulating learning space for the students to foster their learning (Shepherd & Linn, 2015). This also includes developing a supportive and empathic peer relationship where students understand each other and are aware of others feelings and emotions. Students who have a broader understanding of feelings are more confident in sharing their emotional state, have more positive and stable relationships with peers and teachers, and show less disruptive behaviour (Kids Helpline, 2020).

Williams (2019), explains how role-play is an effective teaching method that can develop communication, listening, and understanding skills that enrich children’s learning experience. Through role-play and small groups, the students can act feelings out and understand them (Loop, 2017). This will help students to become more aware of each other’s feelings and will develop acceptance and respectful skills that will lead the students to feel more included in the classroom.

While the students are carrying out the different roles, the teacher’s role is to interact with the students by questioning, encouraging, explaining, and understanding their perspective of the emotion (Cremin & Burnett, 2018).

Not only “C.” but all students in the classroom will benefit from this activity since they participate in creating a safe learning environment for everyone.

Tier  1 -Whole Classroom: Sharing opinions and valuing others

According to Cremin and Burnett (2018), teachers must establish a positive relationship with the students, where everyone’s thoughts will be listened to and valued. Furthermore, a safe environment is key for students to be open regarding their own feelings, doubts, and needs. Peers, or the listeners, will then listen to each other, respect different views and understand that difference is not a negative aspect (Giardina, 2012). These principles can be reached by creating whole-class talks throughout the school day (Cremin & Burnett, 2018).

When it comes to creating a safe environment in relation to students and teacher-student relationships, the key is for teachers to want to learn from students about their perspective to include them in the development of a safe learning space. Therefore, opportunities to share their opinions on what might be concerning them or affecting their learning should be given to them (Cremin & Burnett, 2018).

Reflecting upon the analysis made for the case study, the student-teacher could include and listen to everyone’s voice by implementing a postbox where students can anonymously share their thoughts and concerns to then discuss them during morning circle with the teacher and the whole classroom (Cremin & Burnett, 2018).

Not only “C.” but all students will feel valued and included in the classroom; they will be listened to, taken seriously, and respected.

Please be aware that child abuse is a serious topic and as a student-teacher, you should never try to solve it on your own. If you suspect abuse/neglect or a child has trusted you and shared what they have experienced, make the child feel safe, let them know you are taking them seriously and talk to your mentor-teacher. Schools have procedures in place and protocols that need to be followed. These can be different depending on the country or even the specific school, so if possible, get familiar with these documents, so you know what to do in case of suspected child abuse and follow the guidelines.

Additional  Resources

Explore how a negative environment can affect students and learn more about environmental influences on learning:


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Inclusive Perspectives in Primary Education Copyright © 2021 by room305 and Inclusive Education Class 2020-2021 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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