Before the school year started, Ms. Halpert and I were warned (ominously, in some cases) about a group of our students, whose second grade teachers referred to them not-so-affectionately as the "magic five." Considering I used to teach in a classroom where a "problem behavior" was throwing chairs, I was prepared for anything. I was prepared for war.
But actually? They're not that bad. Are they irritating? Yes. Are they impulsive? Yes. Are they lacking in self-control and the ability to sit still during a lesson? Yes and yes. But are they throwing chairs? No.
I expressed this to a colleague of mine, and she rolled her eyes. "Some teachers here have never taught anywhere else," she said in a low voice. "You've definitely seen worse."
Is it the neighborhood? Maybe. Is it the attitude projected by the administration? Possibly. But the impression I get is that, whatever the cause, my new school's "worst kids" don't hold a candle to the worst kids as P.S. Throwing Chairs.
Speaking of which, I received an e-mail from a colleague of mine at my former school, who now has the infamous Julio in her self-contained special education class. She wrote:
We're working on relaxation techniques and developing him into a good leader. he is so kind to the other kids, he loves helping them and me. On the second day of school, Julio said to me, "Ms. J, I really like being in the small class. I was nervous at first but now I'm not. When I used to be in a big class, I used to get frustrated." He's doing REALLY well! Thanks for caring so much about him, he tells me that some of the things I do for him are what you used to do. He won't forget you.
Not to be all full of it, but: I credit myself for finally convincing Julio's mother, after years and years of guidance counselors and teachers all telling her the same thing, that a self-contained class was where Julio would thrive. And if I can help reform that kid, I can certainly reform the magic five.