Thursday, November 11, 2010

10 Days before a vacation

First block started off with a fight. One of my SPED girls who has been spiraling down into angry despair, flew into World History where I collab with a nice guy who is never in class at the start, found her seat, raced across the room and proceeded to beat the pulp out of another kid. Honestly, for the first time in my career, I just stood there and watched.

Last Friday, the girl's aunt showed up for a conference with us and to announced that I had become the girl's "monster." The aunt has taken over guardianship of the child after a horrible transition that began last March when the family home burned. Since then the kid has been spiralling further and further out of control. I'm the "monster" of course because I'm trying to hold her in place and insist that she follow the rules and do the classroom assignments. The aunt believes the child should be allowed to make her own decisions -- regardless of the consequences. At the end of the meeting, we agreed that she could, in fact, make those decisions until they affected the learning of other students.

Yesterday, instead of agreeing to sit our advisory class, the child elected to sit across the hall in an empty room. Today, however, I allowed her to make the decision to beat up another girl which will, of course, force an entirely new series of events.

A behavior plan will now go into effect through her IEP (which has the almighty power of federal law behind it) and this child will no longer be allowed to make her own decisions. This will occur after a blessed 10 day suspension in which we all get to cool off. Then our little miss can decide to either work with me or go to the behavior discipline room where two huge guys hold sway and allow the kids out of the room only under supervision (no breaks, no lunchroom, no attending class -- all work is done in the smallest classroom possible). You get to pee only with a guard at your side.

Bet I won't seem like such a "monster" after two weeks of this treatment!

And if you detect a note of glee in my words, you'd be right.

Next block a whole stream of staff (teachers, administrators, and I don't know who all) paraded through our junior English collab to see what a real collaboration should look like. We didn't know anyone was coming until 7:30 this morning when my collab partner was called by the vice-principal to announce the impending visitation. We had, of course, planned a parallel teaching lesson -- not the best for seeing how well we actually do collaborate. But we decided to do our initial bell work unit, do a brief discussion of MLA standards in which we actually did a team-unit, and then go our separate ways. The students are writing a term paper -- and we didn't divide the class by SPED vs general ed students -- we divided it along the lines of the topics each group was writing about. Some SPED were with me -- some with the English teacher. Generally my group wanted more hands-on help -- but I also had the five brightest kids in the room with me. We have 35 in the gen ed room -- so this division means we can work with more quiet and in a more one-on-one approach without falling all over each other. We wowed our observers (of course -- we really are a great team) by using both approaches in a 25 minute span.

We spend third block standing in a long line waiting to have our sophomore students hearing and vision checked by a staff of student nurses from the local university. Because no one had planned well, all third floor teachers showed up at once and the university staff yelled at the teachers that we didn't have control of our students and everyone was too noisy. They actually got in our faces and yelled! Meanwhile the kids stood around in long, long lines for 45 to 60 minutes waiting for the tests. Clearly ivory towers have little contact with inner city public schools.

With my world history collab partner we ended the day by planning to give a demonstration tomorrow of how true communism works -- facilitated by a huge pile of really realistic paper money. The kids will love it. But we will be noisy. Money calls for noise for some odd reason.


Margaret said...

Yep, I'm sure you won't be such a "monster" after this--but I feel angry that you had to put up with being called one!! Ivory towers, they don't know much about anything real world, do they? Hang in there! You're doing great and important work, my friend.

Donna said...

It amazes me that anybody still wants to teach, with conditions like this. Good grief.