Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dangerous minds indeed

Ohhhhh boy.

William's behavior has escalated to the brink of complete insanity. Just to give you a small tasting of what our days are like, here are my notes on him from last week:
  • Jumping over kids on rug
  • Does handstands and somersaults on rug
  • Flips over backwards on rug
  • Squashes Samantha against the wall with his body at the water fountain
  • Goes into Julio’s backpack
  • Physically pulls a boy away from the closet
  • Says “Shut up” to other kids
  • Calls Jane a “dum dum”
  • Says “Suck my dick” repeatedly to Jonathan
  • Throws eraser at me
  • Makes post-its into paper airplanes and throws them
  • Pushes Jose with his body
  • Smacks his fist into his palm in someone else’s direction (as a threat)
  • Takes cards out of Mark’s desk
  • Throws ball around the room
  • Tries to block Julio from walking around him, then trips him on purpose
  • Runs in hall during fire drill, knocking Julio to ground
  • Throwing paper airplanes
  • Kicks over Jose’s schoolbag on purpose
  • Calls other kids “babies” and “liars”
  • Throws pencils and writing folder across the room
  • Keeps going into the closet, closing the door, banging the doors from the inside and screaming out loud chicken noises
  • Says “Big far liar” and “Liar” to other kids repeatedly
  • Says he wants to play with blocks and toys
  • Takes Jose’s hat and wears it around the room
  • Throws his own hat across the room at the garbage
  • Jumps on top of a desk and bounces backwards onto the floor
  • Goes into the closet and balances on top of books in closet
  • Says he hates the class and all the kids are “ugly”
  • Shoves Jose so that he falls to the floor
  • Shoves Julio into the closet
And these are only the incidents I've witnessed with my own eyes. Two parents came up to me at Meet the Teacher and told me their kids complain about William. Multiple students wrote notes to the tattle turtle about him. Meanwhile, my AP has plenty to say on the subject of what she expects to see during an observation, but remains totally mute on the subject of the total freaking insanity in my classroom. "Just document everything," she tells me. (Oh, the restraint it takes not to flip her the middle finger, shout, "Document this!" and leave the school forever.)

At one point, in desperation, I sent two kids to fetch the guidance counselor. What do I do, I asked her, when William is grabbing things out of other kids' hands, or jabbing pencils in the direction of their faces, or doing backflips on the carpet, or yelling out so loudly that I can't make myself heard? What do I do with the other 26 kids in my class?

She stared at me like I was speaking Chinese. Then she asked me if I had established any consequences for his behavior.

"Ooooh, consequences!" I felt like saying. "What a fantastic idea! I hadn't thought of establishing consequences for kids who beat up on other kids all day long!"

Then she told me to send home a behavior chart every day that his mother would have to sign, and set up a meeting with her every week if I had to. So...still no ideas on how this is fair to the other 26 kids in my class.

I told her that William frequently throws things around the room, and obviously he won't give them up when he's told to. Her advice for that? "When he's not looking, take away anything he's throwing and put it up high so he can't reach it."

OK. First of all, this is a kid who stands on tables, and who at nine and a half years old is about two feet taller than the rest of my second graders. Second of all, anything he's throwing? Is pretty much anything in the classroom that's not nailed down (and sometimes he even goes for the brass ring and tries for those things, like all the time he spends banging away at the broken pencil sharpener). We have these stupid old tennis balls on the bottoms of our chairs (to prevent them from scraping against the floor, because all the rubber tips fell off), and he takes them off the chairs and hurls them against the wall and the ceiling. He shoots free throws at the trash can with paper towels from halfway across the room (because naturally he visits the bathroom whenever he wants and spends time at the sink whenever he wants).

Oh, but what's worse than William's behavior? The fact that he's taking Julio right along with him. Last week, Julio managed to fit in outbursts of the F word and the "sh" word amidst his busy schedule of (a) playing Tic-Tac-Toe with William during my writing lesson, (b) eating chips in class, (c) emptying his pencil sharpener onto the floor and (d) teaming up with William for a loud and raucous duet of "I Kissed a Girl" (yes, really).

Am I the world's worst teacher, or what? Based on the fact that two of my 27 students are hysterically and completely out of control in my classroom, I'm tempted to say yes. And yet my students managed to learn how to use counterweights to balance objects in science, how to decide when to use the "ck" digraph spelling pattern, how to plan out a small moment story in writing and how to tell time to the nearest half-hour on a clock. And this past Friday, when it was inching towards dismissal and William and Julio were literally bouncing off the walls and all of our nerves were frayed, I plopped down in front of the rest of my 25 kids on the carpet and said to them, perhaps unwisely, "Can you believe how some kids act in our classroom?!" and they collapsed into shocked agreement, all on my side. "Can't we get through one day without giving you a sore throat?" one of them said plaintively -- and that came from a kid who -- if I didn't have William and Jose tearing up the class -- would be one of my behavior challenges.

Ohhhhhh boy.


Nacho Lover said...

God. I really feel your pain, as I have one of those in my class too. Is it perverse to say that I am a bit relieved that I'm not the only one dealing with sh*t like this? But of course I'm sorry that you are. (I've gotten really lucky about my That Kid though...)

You deserve big props for not only dealing with him, but helping the rest of your kids learn!

hope you're having a restful weekend. :)

Ms. Peace said...

I had a student like this in my classroom my first year of teaching and it was a nightmare. It was during that year that I learned a painful and important lesson about dealing with these situations. NOBODY CARES!!! Not your principal, not your AP, not the guidance counselors, and not the school psychologist. You are on your own until the evaluation finally goes through. In my case, it took six months for the particular child. I would keep documenting everything as you have and be meticulous about documenting consequences, rewards, everything you have tried to help this child be successful. The administration will want to see serious documentation if anything comes up (i.e. he has injured another students, assaulted you, or parents have complained) If other parents complain to you, I would gently imply that they speak to the administration (parents will get the ears of your administration). Good luck!

Sarah said...

Wow, you sure have your hands full! You are NOT a bad teacher because of this student! He needs help and you know that. The only suggestions I have off the top of my head aren't legal in a classroom, lol! Good luck to you!

Second Grade Teacher said...

I totally feel your pain. I dealt with my own "William" last year and shockingly my guidance counselor had the same advice. It must be in the "How To Be a NYC Guidance Counselor Handbook". My best advice is to keep complaining. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Does your school have a S.A.V.E room? You can fill out a student removal form. Disrupting your class and all the other behaviors you mentioned are grounds for removal. All you need to submit are anecdotal of his behavior and the form. After three removals, it becomes an out of school suspension. Goodluck!

Anonymous said...

That kid needs help & it can't come from you. Have you run this debacle by your union rep?

Anonymous said...

I spent 14 years in first grade with one or two of these students each year. This year, I have 5th grade. 34 students, half of which don't care about school work, tests, consequences, anything. They throw paper airplanes, hit, steal, tell me "Shut up B!" and as you are well aware keep documenting because it's all about their rights not the rights of the other half who want to learn. But then maybe this is an important lesson, don't criminals have more rights in the legal system than victims. Unfortunately we have to try to stay sane dealing with it everyday. Good luck! Glad to know I'm not alone.