Friday, August 26, 2005

See Ya Later, Bye

My fith period is...well...interesting.

It is my smallest class. It is also my class with the highest number of high maintenance kids. I have three kids from the Behavior Adjustment (BA) unit in there. BA kids are kids who usually hae severe behavior and emotional problems. Many of them have been abused. Many cannot, or will not, control their anger and have problems in social settings. Many are also identified as special education because they have reading and computation problems and generally do poorly in school. These kids have emotional melt-downs on a regular basis.

And I have three.

However, Mrs. Saint, the teacher in charge of the BA unit, has graciously offered to loan me one of her aides, Miss T., who comes to class with this crew of three and works to keep them on task, calm, and somewhat in tune with what the rest of us are doing. Overall, they've been pretty good although I have to admit that Obsessive Compulsive Boy can grate on my very last nerve. (We are currently having an issue with the fact that he wants to put about 20 staples into every single thing he turns in to me - including single pieces of paper that do not need staples.)

This week Thursday, however, the melt downs began.

Angry Boy came in Angry. Big surprise. Angry boy has an attitude and a chip the size of a third world nation on his shoulder, but he can be a bright kid and actually can be very smart when he's not too busy being hateful. But Thursday was a bad day. He didn't want to sit in his seat, preferring, instead to slouch and put his feet on the chair in front of him. He didn't want to bring a book to lab. He was rude, beligerent, disrespectful, didn't want to communicate and didn't want to do anything for anybody. It didn't take a rocket scientist to see he was a few seconds away from a melt-down so Miss T slid off down the hallway and got Mrs. Saint who got Deputy Dude who came to talk with Angry Boy. (Deputy Dude is a real sherrif's deputy assigned to our building, thank the Lord.) In any case, none of the students were really aware of the drama going on in the back of the room as they were - for once - actually listening to me tell them about the lab they were about to do. Then, of course, Angry Boy had to get really riled up, knocked his desk over and was escorted out of the room.

And that was just the beginning.

Not more than five minutes later, after I put the kids in their lab groups, I had one of my regular ed students begin his melt-down. Angry Boy 2 decided that he didn't want to work with the lab group he had sat down with and proceeded to curse and kick his seat and act like a Class A Brat. Sigh. I told him to wait for me out in the hall while I got the rest of the class going. I knew that Angry Boy 2 had been having a bad day - he'd used profanity earlier in the day and my teammate, Mrs. Language had sent him to be counseled by Mr. Enforcer, the assistant principal. Angry Boy 2 would not open up, wouldn't talk, sulked, so he was counseled and warned and sent back to class. AB2 was pacing back in forth in the hall, obviously upset. I tried our new "warm fuzzy" approach with him with no luck. He would not talk. He would not tell me what was wrong. In fact, the only thing he said the entire time was "You can't make me do anything." So, I gave him his final the lab or sit at a desk in the back and he could work on study for his vocab test. He chose the later option, but as soon as he got to the desk, he threw his books on the floor, sat down and spent the entire time banging on his desk.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

The kids are ignoring him. I'm ignoring him because I am not going to give him the satisfaction of seeing me get mad. The truth of the matter was, I wasn't mad at him at all. I can tell when a kid is having some emotional distress and this kid needed a guidance counselor and needed one badly. I didn't want to make a big deal of it, so I casually walked by Mrs. Eagle's computer, and dropped a quick instant message to guidance suggesting that if an administrator was in the area, it wouldn't be a bad idea to come get AB2 and talk him somewhere to talk out his issues.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

A few minutes later Mrs. Squirrel arrives and takes AB2 away.

I can count on one hand the number of times I've had a kid removed from my room in the past three years. On Thursday, I doubled the number.

In one class period.



Yellow rose said...

As we say over here, "Bless your heart!" Since we've gone to mainstreaming, is it any wonder that we've had to up the number of aids and active (as opposed to only class scheduling) counselors in our schools. I hope when irate taxpapers start griping about school costs they keep those folks firmly in the "good and useful people" column as opposed to the "we could do without" group. And that sounds like a great use for instant messaging. "Back in the day" our teachers would have had to get on the intercom and practically yell that there was a problem in the room, thereby freezing all of the other kids with impending doom, and possibly sending the meltdown kid right out of the window.

Here's hoping that the new week brings you an air conditioned science classroom of your very own. You have no idea how much I admire successful public school teachers. I consider them walking miracle workers.

Is it bad to say that when reading your blog I'm all the happier that I'm in (theoretically) higher ed? We have our own issues, of course, but we are dealing with adults that can be treated as adults.

Yellow Rose

Mrs. Bluebird said...

Oh, I don't know. My problem when I was working in the corporate world with adults, most of them acted like 7th graders. At least my 7th graders have the excuse that they're actually children.

Instant Messaging is a teacher's Godsend. We use it all the time, and you're right, it's much better than hitting the panic button or calling the office so Everyone In Class Knows Something Is Wrong and begins to behave accordingly.

What I would like even more is a telephone in my room with an outside line so I could call a parent during class if needed. The power of that parent phone call is amazing.