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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I like a challange.

I had an almost perfect moment today at school and I have to remember that moment because there were other things that weren't quite so great.

But my almost perfect moment had my students acting out a repetitive fable while I narrated and the kids were so into it, both those playing the roles of actors and those in the audience, and we went through the whole story, and yeah, I had to glare at some kids to get them to continue paying attention, and I had to remind the kids more than once not to get too wild. But overall, really, it was neat. I was reading, and the kids were goofy acting, and when we finished the entire group burst into applause, so much so that I had to make a rule that after a performance we clap for 10 seconds and then stop. They asked to do it again right away, and I said "no" and I'm glad I did because twice in a row would have been too much. Later in the day though, right before we went home, I let them act the story out again, this time with the other half of the class playing as actors, and it was neat too. Not quite as magical as the first time, but it worked out quite decently.

However, at the same time, I have a student who I can't figure out, and the only way that the above was able to happen at all is because I esentially ignored the student for most of the day, allowing the student to do whatever s/he wanted. And this was HORRIBLE of me, but this student played literacy games on the computer for about 2/3 of the day and it was horrible, horrible presidence to set and I'm going to hate myself for allowing it later. But today, if I don't think about that fact, I feel happy that I was finally able to get through a lesson, a few lessons, actually. Without having to stop every minute or two, to try to unsuccessfully reorient this student, the rest of the class was able to really got into what we were doing. They were able to consume an entire 15 minute lesson in 15 minutes, instead of in 3 minute chunks as they had up until now, as I would switch between teaching and trying to get this other student to attend, in any small tiny way, to the lesson.

Since the first day of school I have been talking with other teachers and administrators at my school, trying to figure out how to successfully work with this child. It would seem that I am not in this alone, although I kind of am. People can give me as much advice as they want, but when it comes down to it, I'm the one in the classroom with the students for 6 hours a day. It's up to me to find something that works, something that allow this student to learn, but doesn't take away from the learning of the 20 other kids in the room. Talking to a teacher at my grade level, this other teacher said s/he had asked the administration what they were thinking when they placed this student in the classroom of a Brand New Teacher. The response was, apparently, that the other alternatives (meaning other teachers at the grade level) were worse options. The teacher who I was talking to could not take this child for other reasons, though I think this student would respond really well to that teacher if they could be together.

I will continue trying, and so will the student, and together we will figure out something that works for us and the rest of the class.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Admin does strange things for strange reasons... and in this case, I'll be bitter and say that the reason the other teachers (the ones who are not Brand New Teacher: they've been at the school and knew about the kid) didn't get this kid is because they specifically requested not to get him. Or, perhaps admin chose to give him/her to the "new kid," since over half of new teachers quit in the first 3-5 years anyway... they don't know how long you'll stick around, so might as well give you the "problems" and keep their veterans happy (um, can we say "self-fulfilling prophecy? And, yes, I'm quite bitter. Sorry.)

Now, I'm sure you don't need one more person telling you what to do with a kid I don't know and I don't have to deal with, but...

Is this kid malicious, or is he/she just active/easily distracted? I know you don't want to "reward" bad behavior, but maybe giving this kid a "job" (as your helper, something to do in the room) would keep his/her attention enough to give you a break and let you teach the rest of the class.

Can the student work independently (such as at the literacy center)? Can you give this student his/her own "special" assignments, so he/she can work independently while you teach the rest of the class? (I'm thinking of a Montessori-style thing for him/her.)

I had a third grader who was GT and ADHD. He had many problems with his 1st and 2nd grade teacher (same lady both grades - not good for him) and was always in the office. My classroom style was more "relaxed" than the other teacher's (I let my kids run amuck more), so I didn't have a problem with this kid immediately, but he was a discipline problem. One day, when he was drawing attention to himself yet again by talking about something slightly off-topic, I asked him to prepare a presentation for the class on the topic. I gave him until the end of the week to get it done, but the next day he came in with a 20-minute presentation, with a folder full of photos and graphs he'd gotten online. In one evening.

His situation was pretty unique because he was a really smart kid so I could let him work on his own; also, he was a third-grader, which is quite a bit more mature than a first-grader... but maybe something like that would help? (Maria Montesorri worked with 3-year-olds, and they were able to work independently at that young age.)

Don't beat yourself up over today. One thing about little kids: they have short memories. "Forgive" yourself (not that you need to - you didn'y do anything "bad") and move on. The fact that you are concerned about this child shows that you're the right teacher for him/her. You'll find a way to juggle it all.

8:47 PM  
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5:30 PM  
Anonymous Not Quite Grown Up said...

I'd like to not be quite so cynical yet. I really do like my administration a lot and they have been very supportive. I was thinking more that the other teachers were not given this student because the administration doesn't think these other (older) teachers would support the student as much as a new teacher might. Though chances are, it could be a combination of the two.

That is a good idea to give the student other separate things to work on during whole-group activities. When I talked to others they suggested something similar - giving the student something to do that occupied him/her, but still allowed him/her to listen to the group activities.

Once I got myself together enough, I really would like to do that. Again, the problem is that I'm new and am holding on by a thread figuring out how to run my day, and that doesn't leave time to plan a whole separate set of activities for this one student to do, though ideally I will get to a point where I can do that soon.

This student is probably very gifted and also probably has pretty severe ADHD. (And lives with adults who do not want to test the child for ADHD or even think about the possibility of medication.) Thinking about it more, giving this student extra assignments seems like a very good idea. I'll try to get on that as soon as I can manage to do so.

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Overmedication is a huge problem in our society, and one of the reasons why is because when a student DOES need to be tested and COULD benefit from medication, some parents, who have seen what overmedication can do, don't even want to consider the option.

If you get along well with the parents, maybe you can suggest something like martial arts lessons. They teach self-discipline, self-control and all the other things ADHD kids need to control their hyperactive impulses. (Of course, these practices might take a while to "sink in" with the kid, so I don't know how much they'll help solve your problem... :)

9:42 PM  

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