Difficult Student

Discussion in 'Second Grade' started by Lovetoteach15, Aug 16, 2013.

  1. Lovetoteach15

    Lovetoteach15 Rookie

    Aug 28, 2012
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    Aug 16, 2013

    I have a student in my classroom this year that I am having a lot of trouble dealing with and was hoping that someone here may have some advice.

    I had already been warned about this student prior to the school year based on her experience in first grade. The student has diagnosed ADHD and is on medication for it. The first four weeks of school ran smoothly without any major issues with the student. However, this week she ran out of medicine and turned into a completely different person. There were two major melt-downs this week. Both were pretty similar, but it was worse today.

    As we prepared to take a test today and the class moved quietly to their seats, the student refused to sit in her seat. A countdown began for her to move to her seat and the student still did not move, so my assistant picked up the phone and dialed her mom. The student stated she did not care if we called her mom. We were not able to reach Mom. At this point, the student stood up and then started hopping on all fours around the room making loud animal noises while the other students sat in silence, unsure of what to do. My assistant opened the door to walk her down to the office, and she bolted out the door. I continued on with the test. I was told that my assistant had to chase her down the hall until she was restrained by a teacher in the hallway and carried to the front office where she began biting, spitting and kicking the office staff.

    Many of my students expressed to me that they had witnessed similar incidents regularly last year. As I mentioned previously, the student takes meds for ADHD, which seem to be working. However, I want to prepare in advance if a similar incident happens again since I work in a low-income school where her mom may let her prescription run out again due to lack of money. I also do not have an assistant to help me in circumstances like this every day of the week.

    Occurrences like this are a huge distraction to the entire class, so I am looking for any ideas to deal with a child like this and if anyone has any previous experience working in any type of similar situation? I am not sure exactly what sorts of things set her off, but I know the past two times it has been when she did not want to take a test.
  3. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

    Jul 21, 2009
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    Aug 16, 2013

    I have worked with children like this in similar situations - children who have been on medication and then were not. I have also worked with children like this who are not on any medication.

    Like you, I've been searching for ways to help the student stay calm and keep the rest of the class learning. I've found some very helpful information in the following two books: Transforming the Difficult Child and Conscious Discipline.

    Things that have worked for me: I don't attempt to control the child's behavior unless there is a safety issue. I keep calm and give the child choices: Would you like to sit here and try the test, or over there? If they do not react positively to this, I might say: What can I do to help you get started? Or, a question that is often very effective: Why don't you just do one problem? You choose which one.

    I find that once the child completes just one, they now have momentum and continue, especially when I acknowledge what they have done: You completed one. You did it thoughtfully and neatly.

    I will "invite" the child to do things. If they decide not to do it, it's okay. I don't get upset. If they make any motion to cooperate, even a small motion, I acknowledge it: You moved towards the chair. Thank you for cooperating.

    The trick to handling a child like this, in my experience, is for me to be okay if they do not follow my directions like the rest of the class. Once I let go of my attachment to their compliance, they are free and I am free. If I feel threatened by their non-compliance (and I'm only human, so at times I do), they will then revert to their way of coping with their own fear: digging in their heels and refusing to comply.

    My principal observed me one day when I had the whole class come to the front of the room to do an activity. One boy with these kinds of issues remained seated with a sour look on his face. I said: Amaury, why don't you come up and join us?" I said it lightly, with a beckoning motion of my hand. I had no attachment to his joining us. He could just watch, and that would've been fine. He didn't right away, but a few minutes later he did. I told him I was glad he joined us.

    If I had been worried about what my principal would say, and said those words with that worry in mind, you can imagine that it would have sounded different. And I guarantee you that Amaury would have stayed in his seat. The key for me is first to understand that the decision belongs totally to Amaury, and to be okay with whatever decision Amaury makes.

    As it was, my principal told me later that she was very impressed with how I handled Amaury.

    I think of these children as being wounded. I must approach them very gently, gain their trust, understand that they are reacting out of fear and be willing to show them that I will give them lots of much needed support.
  4. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

    Jul 10, 2013
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    Aug 16, 2013

    Just wanted to thank you schoolteacher, that is some great advice. Gives me lots to think about for my own students...
  5. janis

    janis Companion

    Jul 17, 2013
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    Aug 19, 2013

    I know it's hard to find time, but try to get some one to one time with this child, in very short doses. It's not fool-proof, but developing a personal rapport with children like this has often worked for me; some children just need a strong bond with an adult, but stay firm and clear either way.

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