Saturday, February 17, 2007

Keeping the Real World At Bay

As usual we received a number of new students after the holidays. One of these students was Ponytail Girl. Ponytail Girl was very quiet, and she apparently attended our school for a period of time last year so she fit in rather easily for someone who appeared to be so shy. It didn't take me long to figure out that this kid had some real problems when it came to reading, study skills, and basic comprehension. It also didn't help that she was absent a lot and never made up her work. In a month, even with modified tests and assignments, she'd made a 43% in science; her grades in other classes were just as bad. Miss Reading suspected she was reading at about a 2nd or 3rd grade level.

I added her to our latest support team list and presented her case at our meeting on Monday. We didn't have a whole lot to go on with this kid - no state test results, no grades from last year, no previous indications of special education testing, nothing. What I did find out was that her mother yanked both her and a sister out last year around the same time to home school them as they were "learning too much from the other students". Interesting. We decided to make some more modifications, such as having tests read to her, and review her case again after a month.

Interestingly enough I intercepted a note being written between her and another girl in my class the next day. They weren't being very smart about it as they sit at a table right smack in front, so I casually did my stroll around the room as they were labeling their flower picture and picked it up. Ponytail Girl had a death grip on the note, but released it as soon as I gave her That Look. I tucked it into my pocket and didn't have time to read it until classes changed.

Oh my.

Let's just say that it had to do with boyfriends, grown up activities, and protection. Things 12-year olds probably shouldn't be writing about, let alone doing.

I hightailed that note over to guidance where the Guidance Mom took one look at it and blinked several times. "Good gracious, this is exactly the kind of stuff her mom pulled her out of school for last year!"

Guidance Mom really had no choice but to call these girls in and call their families. The next day Ponytail Girl came around with a withdrawal form. Her mom was pulling her out - again - and sending her to a church-based home school group in the area (apparently the same one she went to before) which did not thrill Ponytail Girl. She told me she really enjoyed having teachers teach her things no one had taught her before - she specifically mentioned Mr. Social Studies and his PowerPoint on Egypt. She was not, she said, looking forward to doing nothing but workbooks.

I worry about this girl on a number of levels. One, the fact that she may have a learning disability is definitely not being addressed. There are a lot of good church-based schools, private schools, and home school groups in our area, but the one this child will be going to does not have a good reputation, compared to the others, some of which are excellent. Two, I think her mom
is a bit naive in thinking that she can protect her daughter from the real world. From all appearances the genie is already out of the bottle. In addition, how many stories have we all heard about kids with parents who protect them so extensively that they become wild when they finally get a little freedom? Perhaps instead of hiding her from the real world, she should be giving her lessons on how to deal with it.

But hey, it's not my kid. I just hope it doesn't end up being a tragic story.


Mrs. T said...

Sounds like Ponytail Girl may end up having to go by her initials (P.G.) if her mom doesn't get real. How sad- especially the part about her missing being taught things, like about Egypt! She's obviously thirsty for some knowledge. Think what she could become if she were given the proper modifications and interventions.

Mrs. T said...

I tagged you for a Thinking Blogger Award on my site- check it out!

Darren said...

During my first year of teaching I did the old "read the notes aloud" to my 8th graders; that kept the note-passing to a minimum.

My second year, I got in a new student. She passed a note the contents of which could have made Xaviera Hollander bluch. (I have no idea who that is, of course.)

I no longer read notes aloud. Then again, I teach high school now, and that makes life much easier in that realm.