Tricky Moments address issues of boundary violating remarks and acts during situations of teaching and learning. Reading through them can therefore have a (re-)traumatizing effect on people who have encountered violence and discrimination before (racism, sexism, ableism, etc.). The following Tricky Moment depicts a fictional situation inspired by actual experiences.

Is my being like this relevant?

This is about:

Exam situation

Describing the situation

A student with severe vision impairment attends class together with other students. Without asking for permission, he uses a recording device in order to be able to listen back to what has been said in class at home and to once again peruse the lesson material. During the exam, the allotted time does not suffice for the student to adequately read the small typeface of the exam sheets. He hands them in unfinished. Based on the fact that the student had been very active and knowledgeable during the semester, the teacher is surprised by the exam results and invites him to a confidential meeting. It becomes apparent that the student did not disclose his visual impairment because he does not want to primarily be perceived as a disabled person. Together, they are able to rethink the exam situation in a manner that is ideal for everyone involved.

What happend here?

Viewing/regarding the situation from different perspectives

The teacher did not have any information concerning the severity of the student’s visual impairment. In general, it is not required that teachers know everything about their students. However, since the grade of success of a teacher’s teaching can be measured by their student’s progression, the student’s exam results prompt the teacher to set a private appointment with the student. In doing so they opt against discussing the result and its causes in plenum with the other students and thus avoid accidental outing. By setting aside time for the student, the teacher creates a trusting environment. Together they can discuss what caused the poor exam results and work on appropriate solutions for successful completion of the class.

The student decides against revealing his low vision because of numerous discriminatory experiences in the past. Not being treated differently from his fellow students is his main motivation here. Receiving negative grades and the possibility of being forced to drop out are risks he is willing to take. His choice is self-determined and absolutely justified. However, in doing so he forgoes his entitlement to academic accommodations. His recording of the class violates §15 (13) of the study law. Nevertheless, he accepts the teacher’s invitation and is able to talk about his situation in a one-to-one setting.

The group of students should be regarded as being diverse from the very beginning. For example, in relation to the social, cultural and regional backgrounds concerning their education and experiences, or in connection to individual – and often invisible – physical and intellectual disabilities. Small-group settings not only allow individual(ized) connections between teacher and students but also foster in-depth exchange between students. Simultaneously, the relatively small size of these settings, however, also harbors the risk of boundary infringements/violations and accidental outings. In general, teaching and learning situations should be conceived as spaces characterized by opportunity, in which students are invited to proactively shape and participate.

How would the group of students have reacted to an accidental outing?

Becoming active, doing what and how?

How can my actions actively contribute to successful situations of teaching and learning?

Have you experienced a similar situation?

You are not alone. Here you can forward your experiences with discrimination directly to the Working Group on Equal Opportunities (AKG) or ask for possible courses of action. Your information will be treated confidentially.

If you click on "yes", no personal details are required and the e-mail is sent anonymously to the Working Group on Equal Treatment (AKG) with a non-traceable e-mail address. This means that no further contact is possible.