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Andrés González: “With the program TEI, bullying lowers by a 95%, victimization is reduced and levels of stress and anxiety decrease”

Andrés González Bellido has led a research group in the Institute of Education Sciences of the University of Barcelona for more than fifteen years.

Andrés González Bellido has led a research group in the Institute of Education Sciences of the University of Barcelona for more than fifteen years.

Since it was launched, the TEI methodology has been used to train 620.000 students and 40.000 teachers in centers of early childhood, primary, secondary education, special education, basic professional training and advanced degrees.

Since it was launched, the TEI methodology has been used to train 620.000 students and 40.000 teachers in centers of early childhood, primary, secondary education, special education, basic professional training and advanced degrees.

In the program TEI, older students are in charge of tutoring younger schoolmates to stop violence and harassment in schools and promote zero tolerance of abuse.

In the program TEI, older students are in charge of tutoring younger schoolmates to stop violence and harassment in schools and promote zero tolerance of abuse.

It has been implemented in educational centers in Paris, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, Mexico and we have an agreement with California.

It has been implemented in educational centers in Paris, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, Mexico and we have an agreement with California.

08/08/2017

Entrevistes

Andrés González Bellido is lecturer and professor of Educational Guidance, he graduated in Psychology and is expert on meditation and conflict management. With this academic profile, there is no wonder he set the peer tutoring program (TEI), in which older students are in charge of tutoring younger schoolmates to stop violence and harassment in schools and promote zero tolerance of abuse.

González Bellido has led a research group in the Institute of Education Sciences of the University of Barcelona for more than fifteen years. Formed by teachers and psychologists, this group works to implement TEI program in as many educational centers as possible, together with two other teams, on work, research, assessment and development from the University of Santiago de Compostela and the University of Alicante.

Since it was launched, the TEI methodology has been used to train 620.000 students and 40.000 teachers in centers of early childhood, primary, secondary education, special education, basic professional training and advanced degrees. Also, the 100% of the centers that use this program are still developing it.

It has been proved that with TEI, a 95% of abuse cases disappear, there is a reduction in victimization as well as stress, anxiety and depression levels, and school absenteeism has also lowered. Moreover, self-esteem and self-concept increase, and empowerment among students grows. Last, but not least, motivation, academic performance and the school’s environment improve.

 

When did the idea of creating TEI come up?

I do not know if there was a specific moment, I think it’s more like a process. As a clinical and educational psychologist, I treated many youngsters who were victims of abuse and saw the level of suffering they go through. And not only them –which is important- but also their families. Fathers and mothers who say they do not know how to cope with this. Also, I worked as a counselor in a secondary education school and I know how teenagers are. When you give them responsibilities and they do something they like and they want to do, their idea of equity, commitment and justice is great.


The program uses all this professional experience and it also has very solid theoretical bases.

Yes, of course. TEI comes from three main theoretical lines: intelligence or emotional education in its different fields; positive psychology and optimism, and the ecological systems theory, developed by Urie Bronfenbrenner (with special emphasis on the transfer of students’ emotional skills to the classroom, educational center, and social environment).


You involve the students in the program, but also the center and lecturers, and you need help from the families.

Indeed, intervention on violence and school abuse has to be multidisciplinary and involve the school community at a complete level. Therefore TEI covers all these elements systematically and not a single student is left out of the program, because those who are not tutors are assistants. Otherwise, it would not be a complete program on violence prevention.


Which collective feels more satisfied with TEI?

Satisfaction levels with TEI occur, from a greater to a lesser degree, in the following order: first, families; then, tutor students; on the third place, tutored students, and last, teachers.


And do tutor students feel more satisfied than tutored classmates?

Indeed. Think of a situation in which you helped someone selflessly. Helping creates physical, emotional and psychological changes. Students who help want to help more and more.


How are couples decided?

We say it is done by draw in order to avoid a stigmatization process, but we set the level of needs of tutored students: 1, 2 and 3. Level 3 is the highest need: students who are very likely to be in exclusion or violence situations, students who suffered from bullying, or students with highly special education needs. Then we give them a tutor who is an emotional leader, with high skills regarding the emotional aspects. Basically, we balance the situation. The aim is for everyone to help everyone, all students help and are helped.


The positive side of the tutor and the tutored students is quite clear. But what happens to the aggressor?

First, it should be noted that TEI never works on people or roles but on behaviours. Because individual dignity cannot be touched, and the aggressor should have the option to reset and change. If I am going to talk about hitting, I am not going to say that Manuel hits others, but I will say that can lead to harm. Public lectures should be on behavior, not on people or roles. The program is structurally designed so that the aggressor feels excluded in a natural way. You only need to change their behavior. It is about inhibiting the daily feedback from most of the aggressors, because that is reinforcing. If we had to define only one feature in an adolescent or preadolescent it would be their membership to a group. What did the group do so far? Strengthen the aggressors’ behavior.  What does it do since there is TEI? Get involve and refuse that.

What we want to reach is that those dangerous behaviors catch the attention in the centers, we have to work on a learning process, be aware that there are behaviors that can do harm and not the other way round, we have normalized behaviours. That causes the inhibition of these behaviors automatically. The classroom will not encourage the aggressor’s attitude. What will the aggressor do? Change the behavior for another one, for helpful ones, which are the ones that give strength. They change their behavior because the “reinforce” has changed. And if they do not change it and say “hey fatty” to someone, people from the group will say “hey, watch it”. The group will not accept other abusive behaviours, regardless of their actor, and it has lost the fear of saying that is not right.  And the victim is not protected anymore, which is a mistake, because it can be understood as a self-stigmatization process of the victim.  Not taking action directly on the victim –but indirectly- and intervening on harmful behaviours, makes the victim to integrate in a natural way without making others feel sympathy for him/her.


Teachers are required some training. How involved are they?

We ask teachers to course a thirty-hour training and the response is amazing. Think that, after making use of this program, we see a decrease in reports, warnings and disruptive behaviours by a 50%. There is a complete benefit.


And the method is working out up to a point it’s crossing borders…

Indeed. It has been implemented in educational centers in Paris, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, Mexico and we have an agreement with California.


You said the final objective is that education steps out of school and that your team’s big project is the creation of TEI cities. What is a TEI city?

A TEI city would be that city where all centers (pre-school, primary and secondary education) used TEI, and in which the modification of the individual, classroom and school would alter all the environment. We have cities such as Tarragona, Gijón, Oviedo, Elche. We are now developing eighteen TEI city projects whose reference is Ibi (Alicante), which won the 1st Contest of Good City Pracices on School Dropout Prevention and School Harassment Prevention, by the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP). In the project on TEI cities, all educational centers, monitors, city services, work with TEI in the broadest sense. The objective is not only each subject to evolve but to modify the environment in which they live and make them as good as possible. 
 

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