Country Romania
Date/Duration The intervention and the changes occurred in semester 2 of the 2016-2017 academic year
Main subject Class headteacher (diriginte), a teacher who – in addition to teaching a subject matter – has extra administrative and counselling responsibilities toward the students in a class, and is the first liaison person between the school and the students’ families.
Age-range of students 12-13 years old in the class where the case
Situation/setting of the school Public school, taking students from age 6 to 19. Inner city school, in a large city (over 300,000 inhabitants) in north-western Romania
Theme/short description + how it is related to DoE A new female student joined the class in September 2016. The class had been together for a year, since the 5th grade, and had mostly forged as a class community. The new student had difficulties being in a new group and was often distressed. She seemed very sensitive, cried easily, and the teacher encountered difficulties interacting with her in a constructive manner and helping her interact with the rest of the students, because it was hard to tell how she would be affected by the attempts. The student’s mother was willing to cooperate, because it was obvious for her, too, that her daughter was going through a difficult time.
Description of the case study As the class headteacher completed the DoE course, she decided to try out the technique called the Box of emotions. She thought that this technique would help the students who are affected by the newcomer’s emotions and behaviour share how they felt and get a chance to analyse their emotional responses, with a view to learning how to manage them.

She involved the students in preparing a nicely decorated box, which they placed in the classroom. She asked the students to write messages when they felt they needed to share the emotions they experienced, the circumstances, and explanations for why they thought they felt as they did. When the box had messages, in the lesson dedicated to counselling, the teacher took out the messages and read them, inviting the class to comment. In the beginning, the new student was not writing messages, but then, when she saw that others students did, she also gained confidence to write messages. Her messages were mostly positive. The other students also wrote positive messages about her.

To further encourage her students to share their feelings, the teacher had the idea to involve the parents as well in this type of communication, so she asked the students to set up a Box of emotions at home as well. The first time they took home their own boxes was on Mother’s Day, when they wrote messages of appreciation towards their mothers, and also expressed other emotions they felt towards their parents. The teacher had prepared the parents for this event in a parent-teacher meeting she organised.

The new student also prepared her box of emotions for home, and in this way, she managed to communicate her emotions about her school life – and not only – to her mother as well. With the teacher’s help, the mother learnt how to handle the messages, how to set aside time and check the box of emotions together with her daughter. The teacher communicated with the new student’s mother frequently during this time, both face-to-face and by telephone to help her manage the interactions and also to monitor the changes the mother noticed in her daughter’s behaviour.

The combined effect of expressing emotions both at school, and at home led to very good results for the newcomer and the rest of the class. The new student is now well adapted to the group and has made a supportive friend in the class. Her mother is very pleased with her daughter’s learning to express and manage her emotions. The other parents are also very pleased to have gained an instrument which facilitates their regular discussions about emotions with their children, and feel better equipped to face the coming teenage years.

The teacher is content that she has found a way to involve the parents in supporting her students’ social-emotional learning.