Nada Dukić

Teaching Difficult Learners

In this experiential workshop, we will look at some tools of restorative practice that can be applied when we face difficulties in learning and teaching. We will analyse the factors that trigger guilt and shame in learners, and thus affect their self-confidence and identity. In the format of case studies, the procedure to restore the damage caused will be presented.


"The participants in this workshop will experience how they might feel in the role of a learner, a teacher and an observer when difficulties in learning and teaching occur. The case studies provided will give participants the opportunity to try out a standard procedure that can be used to restore the harm caused either to the learner or the teacher.

The difference between guilt and shame will be presented in terms of the factors that trigger one and the other and the negative effect they have upon the learners’ self-confidence and self-image. These processes are not straightforward and they can be to a great extent sub-conscious. Guilt is still less damaging, as it involves the possibility of an individual’s active response in the form of the change of behaviour. Shame is more damaging, as it affects an individual’s personality on the level of identity, and that can be extremely painful.

The restorative chat includes the following three stages: reflecting on what has happened, repairing harm caused by an incident and reconnecting relationships. If people are asked to consider what they need when they have been harmed, the answers usually include: someone to listen to their story, time to calm down, a chance to ask, “Why me?”, the person concerned to acknowledge the impact of their behaviour, a sincere apology and reassurance that it will not happen again.

On the contrary, if people are asked to consider what they need when they have caused harm, the answers usually include: someone to listen to their story, time to think, a chance to explain to themselves and to the other person why they did what they did, an opportunity to apologise, a chance to make amends, reassurance that the matter is dealt with. "


Nada Đukić studied Slovenian, English and Croatian language and literature at the University of Ljubljana. She is a professor of Slovenian language and literature. In her teaching career of 25+ years, she has dealt with elementary, secondary, university and adult students and has attended teacher-training courses in England and Croatia. She regularly speaks at international academic and teaching conferences and regularly contributes articles in well-known teacher-training publications.