Need Advice for a Working with a Difficult Student...

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Lisa Stanford, Mar 14, 2019.

  1. Lisa Stanford

    Lisa Stanford New Member

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    Mar 14, 2019

    *First off, I want to mention that I work in a private school that does not have any type of support for special needs children. The child's parents are very much in denial about there being any problem with their son. Basically, I'm out of ideas and I need help deciding how best to approach this child.

    He is an ELL student, 6.5 years old, from a very wealthy family. He has great difficulty in sitting still and about a 5 second attention span when it comes to independent work in class. He requires absolutely constant teacher supervision. At first, I thought he was just a bit hyperactive or maybe ADD, but over the past few months I have also noticed the following things:

    - He has trouble with basic addition (for a question like 2+1=, he will use his fingers and take up to 20 seconds to figure out the answer.)

    - He has trouble writing letters and numbers correctly. This is mostly mirror writing, but also transposing letters in words. This includes a tendency to misspell his own name and to repeatedly forget how to spell basic words like "the" or "at."

    - He frequently wets himself in class or during playtime and will simply allow the urine to dry on his clothes instead of asking for help. When someone notices the smell and/or wet pants, he will shrug and say he forgot to pee. This happened twice today.

    - He has very limited emotional control and will hit, kick or scratch other students for very minor reasons such as when someone sits in a reading spot he wanted. He will also cry uncontrollably over very small disappointments, like not getting to go first when playing a game.

    - He has trouble answering questions about his behavior and/or his school work. Sample exchange from yesterday... Me: "The art teacher tells me she had to give you lots of warnings today. Can you tell me more about what happened?" Him: "Can I go play now?"

    He has learned virtually nothing so far this year and is wayyyyyy below grade level in reading, writing, math, etc. etc. His behavior also disrupts the rest of the class and takes away from everyone's learning.
    If you have any idea what all this might be a symptom of and/or how I can improve the situation, please let me know! Thanks!

    *Also, I want to say that I don't think his behavior is malicious in any way. It just seems like he doesn't pick up new information no matter how often he is exposed to it. He often seems genuinely confused about why teachers and peers have problems with his behavior.
     
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  3. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Mar 14, 2019

    I think you should have a parent-teacher conference with an administrator present along with any instructional aides or teachers who have also observed these events. Also, you should bring along documentation of all of your findings so that the parents can see what it is he is doing or not doing. This is what my school does because some parents refuse to believe their child(ren) did anything wrong and it is quite damning when evidence is presented that they cannot ignore. It might help if you mention that he is developmentally below where he should be at his age and that he continually wets him and cannot read or answer basic questions. You need to have administrative, collegial, and incontrovertible evidence and support to make your findings more credible.
     
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  4. vickilyn

    vickilyn Guru

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    Mar 14, 2019

    You don't mention how proficient the student is in English. Could being an ELL be a factor? Yes. Does it account for everything you have mentioned? No. How much literacy did he have coming into the school year, either in the L1 or L2? If he is trying to "convert" requests or calculations in his L1 to the L2, you might get some of the symptoms you mentenion, but it doesn't explain forgetting to go to the bathroom. How long has he been in this country? Perhaps family acceptance of his behaviors takes away any sense of urgency to make changes. Perhaps some things we see as odd would not be seen as that odd in his native country. Lots of things to consider.

    Some boys do not have the urgency to urinate much before they actually do urinate, and that could be age related, coupled with immaturity. If he isn't planning ahead on his own, he may well need help making sure that the bathroom becomes a stop before recess, etc. That said, some children will say they don't have to go, when they do, because they really don't want to miss any recess time.
     
  5. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Mar 15, 2019

    Agreed. You need a conference with multiple people present.

    Do you have hard evidence of his struggles? Do your students take any type of test where you can show that he is inarguably way below grade level?

    And, are you sending him to the office and is someone calling home to get him fresh clothes every single time he has an accident?

    If parents don't want to consider a need for special ed, a good first step is convincing them he needs tutoring. Separately, you'd probably want to recommend parents ask a doctor about the bathroom issues.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
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  6. Lisa Stanford

    Lisa Stanford New Member

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    Mar 19, 2019

    Thanks for your relies. The parents and the school are well aware that this child is struggling... they just don't plan to do anything about it. I'm looking for ways to work with him more effectively in the classroom because reminding him to focus a thousand times a day and hovering near his desk is not helping.
    His English skills are intermediate, but he has been in school here since he was about 2 years old so he's had lots of exposure and also has never received any type of instruction in his native language. I don't think his ELL status has any impact on his math skills.
    I don't know what is causing the bathroom issues. Maybe he does it for fun? or attention? It happens more often during class than playtime and he is totally comfortable and unembarrassed when it happens.
     
  7. Unetheladyteacher

    Unetheladyteacher Rookie

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    Mar 19, 2019

    The student is ELL, so there may be some misunderstandings arising because English is not the student's first language. If you have another student with a similar background (ELL, similar age, but not at risk due to troubling behaviors), I would keep samples of this person's work to get a baseline that you can compare his work with. This is just to see how someone who can quickly meet expectations does work versus someone who needs more intensive support.

    It is key that you keep track of exactly what goes on when he completes his work. What supports is he being given in class? What interventions are being tried? How much of this is ELL versus a possible concern for special needs? I would start with visual aids and manipulatives for teaching numbers and possibly a number line or hundreds chart for your student to use with math problems. I would also use cubes or dots or something to provide him with a visual representation of each number. If he has an easier time adding dots, it could be he doesn't recognize the numbers as quickly as the dots and he needs practice with number fluency (understanding and using numbers). I would also see how high he can count and what names he gives certain numbers.

    For students who struggle with reading, I usually do guided reading groups or some other intervention support. I teach phonics, sight words, I pre-teach vocabulary, and I use sentence starters, sentence frames, and I explicitly teach language structures. If I am having a student read a book about how animals move, I might ask them the following question: "How do animals move?" I then might accompany it with the following sentence frame: Animals _________. Students can then fill in the blank with their answer to the question. This can also be used to help students produce writing. I make sure to vary the questions asked and the sentence frames used over time to prevent a student's writing from becoming robotic.
     

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