Friday, August 20, 2010


This has been a crazy, confusing, exhausting, emotionally draining....year so far. We are piloting a new program in 5th grade. There are six of us and we each teach reading and one other subject.

I teach Social Studies, M teaches Science, T teaches Language Arts, and the other three, B, S and R, all teach math. We are hoping it will help the kids get ready for middle school. Most of the kids are thriving and really enjoying it. They feel so grown-up.

Overall, I am really enjoying it too, but...sometimes, one troublesome child can feel like 10! And this year I have three (x 10=30), in my homeroom, that are making me miserable!!!! (NOTE: If my days are this crazy when I'm present, can you imagine what it will be like when I have to have a sub!?!?!?!?)

After 4 weeks we have worked out a lot of the kinks. I like that we (the teachers) all get along, plan well together, support each other and only have to plan for 2 subjects. The hard part is that over the course of the week, I see all 140 students and this is a very immature group.

In 21 years of teaching, this is the first time that (after the kids had gone home for the day) I sat down at my desk and cried!

Of the 24 in my homeroom, I will introduce you to the 3 that are DRIVING ME NUTS!!!!

1. KITTY-CAT...has major do I count the ways...we are doing her a major disservice because she needs a self contained behavioral disorder classroom, but mom is in denial and anytime you mention the problems you are seeing, mom cries! KITTY-CAT is gifted, is an exceptionally high reader and a great artist, but she has the maturity level of a 5 year old. On top of that she is starting to act out in dangerous ways (stabbing kids with pencils, writing threatening notes etc..etc...), and will never admit she did anything wrong, even if you see her do it. She growls at kids she is mad at, stomps her feet, cries at the drop of a hat, has no writing skills (doesn't put spaces between letters or words), and can only handle one SIMPLE direction at a time. Her IEP allows her to have her work reduced by 60%, and to do the rest on a typewriter. She is confused a lot of the time and doesn't have friends. She needs someone to teach her one-on-one and instead she's in a class of 24. She will drown in middle school!

2. WHAT-BOY...has to be watched like a hawk. I've told him three days in a row, to stay in line as we walk to lunch and all three days, as soon as my back is turned, he's taken off (running) down a different hallway, and when you ask him what he's doing, he says, "What?" he has no clue why I should be upset with him. BELIEVE ME, AFTER TODAY, THAT BOY IS MY NEW BEST FRIEND, WHEN WE WALK TO LUNCH! Another time he clunked heads together of the two boys walking in front of him.....his response..."What?" When asked why he's pushing others, "What? They pushed me first." It's NEVER his fault!

Daily he will fall out of his chair, because the other kids laugh and he gets attention. I finally told the kids that he is falling out of his chair on purpose and was acting like a first grader to make them pay attention to him. If they stopped laughing and giving him attention for it, maybe he would stop. Later on in the day he fell out of his chair again and the kids didn't react (Thank God!), but I could see him looking around. When he realized he wasn't getting attention or laughs, his antics then ended. Hopefully, if I keep reminding the other kids not to pay attention to him, then he will stop this at least.

He will also poke people, tear things off the wall, push people and just generally annoy others, because he knows he can get a rise out of them. He also LOVES to taunt KITTY-CAT, which just makes her lose it even more! We are going through the referral process with him now, but it will be at least January before anything is finalized on him.

My other frustration is when I call home to talk to mom....Right away she tells me she is a single mother and she HAS NO TIME FOR A CONFERENCE.

OPENING A GIANT CAN OF NEGATIVE COMMENTS.....I know A LOT of single mothers that are amazing women and are working miracles all by themselves. I am not talking to you single mom's who are doing a great job, but I am talking to you single mom's who are using this as an excuse.....

I am sorry....but it is neither my fault, nor your child's that you are a single mom. I understand that you need to work overtime to pay your bills, but I can't do this on my own. While you have 1 or more children I have 24. I can't make ALL 24 do their homework. I need your help!!!! AND I AM SO SICK AND TIRED OF HEARING..."I asked him if he had homework and he said, no. I told him I knew this wasn't true. We've played this game the last few years. I don't know why he keeps it up." Here's your answer.....BECAUSE YOU DON'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT AND YOU LET HIM GET AWAY WITH IT! Here's another tip...when given the choice of getting homework done OR denying the very existence of the homework....the child will 99.9 % of the time....choose the latter.

I think we will be transferring him to a different homeroom....SOON! At least it should change the dynamics a little.

3. Finally, there is BABY-BOY.....Yes, he has an IEP. We have cut his assignments and follow all of the accommodations that we are suppose to! My problem is that he is so BABIED that he isn't being held accountable for his bad behavior...which is escalating, and the IEP has become a crutch and an excuse..."But you know he has an IEP, right?"

Here are SOME of the behaviors I deal with on a daily basis:

* kicking open the stall door in the boys room, while another boy was using it
* running off down the hall, repeatedly, with WHAT-BOY
* refusing to even pick up his pencil or open a book
* taunting KITTY-CAT, just to get a rise out of her
* wandering around the room, when asked repeatedly to take his seat
* stealing pencils
* destroying others work
* leaving the room without permission
* hiding in the bathrooms and not returning to class

OPENING ANOTHER GIANT CAN OF NEGATIVE COMMENTS: I LOVE BEING A TEACHER! I REALLY DO, but....I think that making everything "fair" for these "special" children has made it EXTREMELY unfair for the rest of the children. When am I suppose to teach, if AT LEAST half of my day is spent dealing with problems that arise because of these "special" children.

I remember hearing once....if you can't take what's happening to you at your job....RETHINK, RELOCATE OR RETIRE! This is the VERY FIRST year that I am considering the last two options!!!!


Headless Mom said...

I'm looking forward to reading your school posts this year since my boy#1 is in 5th grade.

I'm so sorry that you're off to a bad start with the kids. At least you have a good team, right? Anyhow, I think you're spot on with your comments about keeping kids accountable, the disservice to the other kids in the class, all of it. Mainstreaming is great for the kids that can handle it, but for those that can't? They are getting screwed too. My kids are 'normal' (whatever that means,) and have difficulty when the IEP kids act out even when they are friends with them.

I'll stop hijacking your comments now, but you'll always get agreement from me!

Confessions From A Working Mom said...

Interesting post! My mom worked with special needs elementary school students for 12 years before retiring this summer.... she would echo a LOT of your comments!

About guest posting-- your Google PR on this blog is a 3, so hooray! Email me ASAP and we'll throw around some topic ideas. Make sure you have a Paypal account so I can pay you!


Kris said...

So sad. I'm all for mainstreaming, to a point. I think one of the biggest problem today in the classroom is the home life. The parents are simply not taking an active role in raising their children. I would venture to guess that when these individuals are arrested when they are in the teens because they poor impulse control (much of it due to lack of parenting), I guess they still will not hold themselves responsible to be a parent.

Just this past week when I was teaching, I had a student who's a mom of a "special" (her word) son. She works VERY hard with him, managing his behavior, teaching him behavior control, teaching him what he can't pick up in the classroom, etc. I wish more parents would react that way!

So sorry it's been a rough start to the year. Hopefully some changes can be made to ease it up a bit.

Kim said...

I don't know what the ins and outs of SPED are in your state, but here in CA and IEP doesn't automatically excuse bad behavior. If the behavior is not proven to be a "manifestation of the disability", the child is subject to the discipline code additionally, children on IEPs with behavior issues often have Behavior Support Plans (BSP) in place that act as a guide for progressive discipline when behavior is not manageable with normal classroom means.

Do you have any help like this in your state/school district?

I'm sorry you have such tough kiddos. I know what that's like - hang in there!