Confessions of a "Nice" Teacher

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Em_Catz, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    Jun 10, 2011

    What Would You Do?

    I believe "Sam" suffers from undiagnosed autism, emotional disturbance and the effects of physical and mental abuse. His Dad is CRAZY and we had to get a restraining order and call the police to make Dad stop coming to the school because he was threatening the child (i had to call CPS on him when he smacked the child hard enough to knock him to the floor in my classroom), cursing and just acting a fool.

    Sam is not in my homeroom, but he used to come to me for reading class. He was a bit "off" and the other kids noticed and kind of alienated him because he doesn't know how to socialize. He seemed to do well in my class at first, but toward the end, I guess as stuff went from bad to worse at home, he started distancing himself from me and I had to send him out my room a couple times because he was disturbing others during whole group.

    I just found out that Sam is going to be staying back this year and his mother has requested me as his teacher. :unsure:

    His current teacher is strict and doesn't have the same kind of patience as I have for his odd behaviors (ie: he talks to his fingers, once he said he was hearing voices, he has antisocial tendancies, he stammers when he talks to adults, he cannot relate to other kids, he hates being touched, he struggles to follow directions and has a lot of trouble understanding social cues to name a few)

    I like Sam and I think I can relate to him better than most because I grew up with an autistic cousin, BUT I feel a bit leery having him in my class. I don't know if I can handle him ALL day rather than just for an hour during reading.

    He has been recommended for special education, but it's a loooooooooooooooong process and due to some other issues, he probably won't be tested and the process completed until maybe February 2012. And even if he does test into Special Ed, he'd just leave my room for about 45 minutes a day for small group with the SpEd teacher, then return.

    Any advice on how to deal with him? The other teacher mostly yells at him and complains about him to other teachers in front of him.

    At first I was disgusted and like, "Ugh, she is so mean!" but now, I'm wondering if she started out kind with good intentions like me and he wore her down over the year. :(
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2011
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jun 10, 2011

    I think you will need to wait until next year to really begin this, but go in knowing that mom is on your side and is willing to work with you.

    When you do start school, stay positive, listen to him and others, and set up a good routine (things that will really help).

    Things to keep in mind:
    Choose one behavior at a time to target and teach replacement behaviors.
    When the behaviors become distracting, have him run an errand to the office or deliver something to the nurse. Just a quick, you do something while I work with the other kids for a bit.
     
  4. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Jun 10, 2011

    My first thought with evaluation is that if a request were put in in August he'd have to be tested with 60 days - not sure how the district could get away with 6 months. Any idea on why that would be? Also, if he were diagnosed with Autism or something equally as significant, he would likely receive more than 45-minutes of pull-out, though I don't know your district.

    I tend to agree with mopar about waiting until the fall to begin actual planning, as it will be helpful to see how he responds to different things you do, and the specific dynamics of your class next year. Doesn't mean you can't continue educating yourself with books, online resources, etc., in anticipation!
     
  5. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    I think she said that the autism is undiagnosed and I bet that the parent isn't requesting the testing.
     
  6. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Jun 10, 2011

    Good points mopar - would be nice if the parent would.
     
  7. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Jun 10, 2011

    Reminds me of this book. It might encourage you or give you some ideas to keep your patience. Congrats on being seen as caring, too, that is such a compliment!
     
  8. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    Jun 10, 2011

    Sorry, I fell asleep not long after posting. It's been a looooooooooooooong day. The parent is VERY against testing. She says the boy just has a bad attitude and that he doesn't care about school.

    I am no expert, but I don't think that's the case. I grew up with an autistic cousin and I see a lot of similarities. Also, at this age, children want to please the teacher more than anything. For him to be so far out in left field with his behaviors makes me think he can't help it
     
  9. Go 4th

    Go 4th Habitué

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    Jun 10, 2011

    It's so hard when parents don't want testing done. It's hard for them to admit that something may be wrong with their baby, even if a diagnosis is a way to help them.

    I'd stay in close contact with mom right from the start. Having open, honest communication will be the key. Don't forget to start out with positives about the child and how much you enjoy having him in your class.

    Definately save work samples, including samples of other student's in your class. Allowing mom to see any differences may help open her eyes.

    Document as much as you can--both good and bad.

    Plan on lots of positive ways to reinforce his good behaviors. Have some strategies in mind so that you are ready and prepared. Read up on autism and find out if anyone in your school has had an autistic studnet before. This may give you someone to turn to in an emergency situation.

    Good luck!!! :)
     
  10. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Jun 10, 2011

    I have had to convince a lot of moms to have their child tested. 1. Build trust. Be the mom's best buddy, keep in close contact with her. Call her almost every day to talk about her son.
    2. When she softens a bit, ask her to come in for a conference.
    3. Present the testing as something very special that you can do for the child. Tell her it is a great opportunity. And, emphasize that it is free. How lucky she is!!!
    4. And, if the testing does not turn up anything, nothing is lost.
     
  11. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Jun 11, 2011

    The biggest thing I can recommend is to go in with a positive attitude. I had something slightly similar happen to me this year.

    Last year I had a student with global developmental delays when I taught grade one. This year I moved up to grade two, and while I felt like I had a good year with this student in grade one, I was ready to hand him off. I ended up having him again, and dreaded it over the summer. I convinced myself to have a good attitude with him, and it worked out really well. Having said that, I can't say that I'm super pleased with his academic progress this year, but I feel like he has met most, if not all, of his individualized goals for the year, and I feel that is much more important.
     
  12. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jun 11, 2011

    Blue---I love the advice about working towards testing with a parent!
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jun 11, 2011

    Not tested until Feb of next year? Does that seem to be in violation of SPED law?
     
  14. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Jun 11, 2011

    Build that relationship with Mom! This year I have a special little guy, not to that extreme: he's ADHD, I'm almost wondering if it's also ODD. Preschool thought autism. The office knows that when I ask for help with him that I really need it. (that's usually because he's shut down.) I'm so thankful that Mom is very supportive.

    I had another child one year that his 2nd grade teacher wanted tested & Mom & Dad refused. I built that relationship and I eventually got them to agree. I think he qualified for services.

    I tell parents that I know how hard it is to have your child qualify for services. I will tell that that with my Daughter, we knew that she needed additional help, but because of the system it took 2 years to get her to qualify. Even though I knew it was in her best interests I still cried when I signed the forms.
     
  15. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Jun 11, 2011

    If the parent writes a letter requesting the testing for special ed. The school legally has only a certain amount of time to get it done in, I think 60 days. If the school is doing it through their steps it might take 6 months or more depending on their RIT plan.
     
  16. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    Jun 11, 2011

    First it is important for you to realize that Sam is being placed into the best possible place he can be.

    You are the one who can help him most.

    You already have an intuitive sense of how best to work with him. You have patience and can relate to him. These are all wonderful things that Sam is desperately in need of.

    I have two students who are similar to Sam in my room this year. It is a great challenge for me. I find that it is very important to view each day as a fresh start, to celebrate small successes, to work on role playing social skills, to build them up with as many positive supports as I can.

    It's not easy - but it's very rewarding.
     
  17. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    At our school if a child has a high number of absences, they cannot be tested for emotional disturbance/SpEd. The rationale is the school wants to rule EVERYTHING out before testing because testing is an expensive, lengthy procedure. So they say, "A child's attendance may be why they are having issues"

    It's VERY stupid (sorry to be blunt but it really is!). You can have a child throwing stuff and attacking teachers, but if they have a certain number of absences, they won't test them unless their attendance gets better.
     
  18. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Wow! Don't they realize that many students with emotional disturbances miss school because they don't want to come (temper tantrums at home)?

    I could see this as a reason not to test a student with a suspected learning disability, but wow!
     
  19. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    Exactly. Plus, I sometimes wonder if his parents keep him home because he may have an identifying mark on him that would be proof of physical abuse. He often stays home or 2 - 3 days at a time. OR he'll arrive super late to school. Like 3 hours late.

    I understand we are in a budget crisis, but I think exceptions should be made for certain situations.

    Sidebar: I talked to Sam earlier this week and he told me that no one in class wants to play with him or be his friend. :(
     
  20. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    That is definitely something you will have to work on. Usually in the beginning of a new year, finding a friend is not a big deal. But as the year progresses, it gets harder and harder because of the choices that the student makes.

    *Well, unless you're in my room. For some reason this year, my two most inappropriately behaved students were like movie stars to the other students. They all wanted to act like them no matter the consequences (well....the few our administration allows us to have).
     
  21. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    Jun 12, 2011

    I spoke to Sam's teacher from this year. She told me in the beginning, she used to try and make other children play with Sam and they'd do it because they were told, but they wouldn't pursue him on their own.

    *I had that happen last year with an extremely, misbehaving child. He was mean spirited and used to steal from other kids, make fun of them, curse at me, etc, but the other kids thought he was the greatest. They used to choose him first for games, try to sit with him at recess, etc.

    I think it's because he was very charismatic*. Yes, he engaged in antisocial, disturbing behavior, but he was very likable. It's kind of a manipulation I think.

    I remember once he spent 20 minutes talking to himself about wanting to kill me and other people in the classroom. Then, he turns around and starts being all friendly and charming. :eek:

    Sam isn't like that. He doesn't know how to make people like him.

    EDIT: In some ways I think it's better to have a Sam than the other child only because students are effected by their peers. If their negative behavior makes their peers like them more, they'll do it more. If their negative behavior alienates them from the other kids, they'll do it less. That's what I saw anyway with another child in my class.
     
  22. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Your edit is so true!
     
  23. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Jun 12, 2011

    Lots of the issues you mention (playing with Sam, etc) are specifically discussed in the awesome book, "Sammy and His Behavior Problems." (I feel like a broken record or a nag, but I really think it will help you :)

    [​IMG]
     

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