Losing my mind... Need advice

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by yearroundteach, Oct 28, 2008.

  1. yearroundteach

    yearroundteach Companion

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    Oct 28, 2008

    I will start out by saying that I have not always had the easiest of classes in my 4 years of teaching. I have had a student who had ADHD and was also diagnosed as being bipolar. This student was on at least 5 different medications during the time I had her and not by any means "easy to handle". However, we made it out alive and she left learning something, knowing how to control herself better, and even liking me. I also had another student who was just overall a "behavior issue". He had some home issues but mostly just wanted to do what he wanted to do. I developed a behavior plan for him and he improved greatly throughout the year. There were several other students in these same 2 classes that fed off those two as well.

    I mention the above examples to prove that I'm not completely "green" in dealing with behavior issues and that I am capable of putting frustrating feelings aside and work with helping the child. I guess that's why I am so upset this year and about to pull my hair out. I swear for the first few weeks of school I had the "perfect" class. The students were all well mannered, funny, attentive students who were generally excited to be in 2nd grade and learn. Then along came my newest student. She is in no way a "bad" child. Compared to the above examples, I should feel like I'm taking a walk in the park but....

    She is slowly driving me insane. There is no one specific behavior but there are a few that happen consistently. She pays attention to NOTHING as far as I can tell. I give a direction and 5 minutes later she could not care any less that she is the only one who hasn't followed it. I have stood in close proximity to her when giving directions. I have used her paper, materials, etc. to hold up to show the class exactly what, where, and how I am talking about doing something; so she is essentially "forced" to pay attention to me. I have spoken to her privately about what she thinks the issue may be that is causing this and how we can fix it. She gives me a different reason each time (and they always seem believable). She is also a student who doesn't seem to care about consequences. Now, I'm not saying she doesn't but she certainly gives off that air about her. It doesn't matter if she's receiving a consequence or if I'm discussing with her how disappointing her behavior is... there is no reaction what so ever. Not a frown, not a cry, no anger, not an "I'm sorry", not even a "please don't tell my mom. I'll get in trouble" (though I do know her mom gives consequences for a bad report in school). This student also disrupts others around her constantly. I've tried moving her desk but there just NO way of removing her from the vicinity of everyone. My room is miniscule and the desks must be grouped.

    I am at my wits end right now. I know to some people who have more severe issues to deal with, this seems trivial but I assure you that my blood pressure doesn't think so! :unsure: Today I broke one of my own cardinal rules and basically embarrassed her in front of the class. It wasn't meant to have that effect but the result was that regardless. I was back helping a student with something and the class was cleaning up and lining up for specials. Everyone in the class was either lined up or on their way to do so. This child, however, was looking in her folder and messing with her hair. I said her name once and gave her a "look". I saw the recognition in her eyes that she knew what I meant (she is not unaware of what she's doing) yet she continued to sit there. So finally I said, "______ there is no way that you cannot see that everyone else is ready but you. I am sure they are just as tired of waiting for you to follow directions as I am." Her face turned red and I felt terrible after I said it but she had finally pushed me to my limit. There was just no way I was leaving the student who was doing the right thing and NEEDED my help to walk over to her desk, once again discuss what she needed to do, stand there for 5 minutes waiting for her to do it, and have everyone late to P.E. (which, understandably, is not taken kindly by the P.E. teacher)

    So I realize this was very long and a BIG thank you if you made it all the way through. If anyone has any tidbit of advice, no matter how small, I would be very grateful. I have to do something to benefit this child's learning and my sanity.
     
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  3. Luv2Learn

    Luv2Learn Companion

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    Oct 28, 2008

    Hi yearroundteach,

    I really don't see anything that you did wrong. As she is aware of what she is doing (or not doing, whatever the case), she has actually been doing a lot of manipulating herself. All the attention you have given to her up til this, has provided her with attention that wasn't all that negative. It was a way for her to claim a lot of your attention. I mean how much more attention can she get than having your attention 100%. This time, you were helping another student (giving that student your attention), and she knew what she was doing...she probably wanted you to walk on over to her (abandoning that other student) to discipline her...but because you did not and called attention to her behavior, it embarrassed her...but that is not your fault. She needs to realize that you are not only her teacher, but you have 20+ students as well.

    I'm not in the position to give advice; however, I do feel that you did nothing wrong.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 29, 2008

    What do mom and dad say?

    How about her teacher from last year-- does she have any insight or any suggestions of things that worked? Or is she new to the school as well as the classroom?

    I know next to nothing about Special Education-- does she fit the profile for anything that's in that realm? Even if not, could you speak to some of the Special Ed people? Maybe some of them could observe her behavior in your class and offer some concrete suggestions.

    Is there any sort of "hook" at all that you can use? Any thing she loves or hates that you can take advantage of?

    Could you assign some writing that lets you know a bit more about her background? What she wants to be when she grows up or her interests and maybe play into that a bit?
     
  5. yearroundteach

    yearroundteach Companion

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    Oct 29, 2008

    Thank you for your input. I'm glad there are people saying that I didn't do the worst thing in the world. It makes me feel alot better. Now today she was absent so, of course, I felt guilty all day like she didn't come because I "yelled" at her. (She is the type of child in my opinion who would be able to manipulate mom into letting her stay home) Oh well, I'll just give myself the same lecture tomorrow that I did this morning (before I knew she was absent)... Today will be better. You'll handle her better and she'll try to do better. If I keep saying it, I almost believe it.:unsure:
     
  6. yearroundteach

    yearroundteach Companion

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    Oct 29, 2008

    Thank you for writing back. It makes me feel better to hear that others feel my little "outburst" may have even helped her a little. I was feeling major guilt yesterday and then more today when she didn't come to school (see my above reply).

    Your first quote kind of hits the nail on the head of how I'm feeling. Some days I swear I WANT to leave her behind. I want to just ignore her ignoring and let her fall behind and be lost. But there is something in me that won't let me. It stems from having it drilled into me in school and over my teaching experiences that you have to do everything you can to reach every child. So though at times I attempt to ignore her and let her sink or swim, I always end up caving. Now that I'm typing this, I'm thinking maybe one day of letting her flounder a little may give her the wake up call to realize that there won't always be a teacher, or a mom, or a whoever to be hovering over her and making sure she does the right thing.

    I just keep telling myself, "tomorrow will be better" and I have to believe that SOMEDAY that will have to be true as far as this student is concerned!
     
  7. yearroundteach

    yearroundteach Companion

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    Oct 29, 2008

    Thanks for getting back to me Alice. Dad isn't in the picture and mom is hit or miss. Some days she is very supportive and other days she defends the student. Regardless what kind of response mom has, one thing is consistent.... as far as I can tell, mom is convinced this is an at-school-only problem. I just have a hard time believing that a child who is SO lost and spacey in school could be perfectly responsible at home. My opinions (only based on what I've observed so far) is that, there aren't alot of expectations at home so it would be difficult to see this type of behavior when she is just allowed to do as she wishes.

    She is new not only to my classroom but to the school as well as the district. Last time I checked (last week) we still didn't have her file from her last school. When the child is from another district, it's pretty hit or miss as to whether we'll even get the file by Winter Break. But you asking that reminds me that I should go check tomorrow to see if, by a one in a million chance, it's actually there.

    As far as Sped goes, I've thought and thought about it. The only thing that I would even think she may remotely fit into is ADD. However there are days when she is incredibly focused to a point that I'm not sure a child with ADD could muster (without meds or intervention). The Sped teacher does come in my room occasionally to conference with another student; so maybe I'll ask him to stay one day and observe her.

    I'm going to continue to think about her loves and hates. Thus far there is nothing that I can grab onto and use. I could probably use a writing assignment to try to find out these things. Wouldn't hurt to have all the kids "tell" me this information through a sneaky little writing assignment :cool:
     
  8. TeacherShelly

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    Oct 29, 2008

    Oh, I feel for you. Your posts are so well written and show your feelings - and your big time caring. My suggestion is to try some humor. The situation sounds deadly serious, and being driven half crazy is certainly serious. How about some playfulness. Sing the instructions to her by name: To the tune of My Bonnie... "Sally, it's time to clean up now. Sally, let's clean up today. Sally you beautiful darling. Put your crayolas away!" See if she chuckles while putting them away.

    Another time, try writing her a note. "Dear Sally, you are cordially invited to Specials today. Please find your place in line, right now. Yes, now. Go." You could drop this on her desk at the right moment.

    Just some ideas. Levity might help ease the tension just enough that you two can connect and make some real plans to address the problem.

    Hats off to you for trying so hard. I can tell you're going to crack this one.
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 30, 2008

    I think those are probably the way to go at the moment. Get someone else's input on the same behavior you're seeing. Since Sped teacher is there on occasion anyway, the girl will probably be herself, as opposed to putting on an act for another observer.

    And I think that the writing assignment is a great tool-- I wish something like that lent itself readily to my math classes. How about one on "your greatest strength" or "Your favorite things to do"-- anything that will get you that hook you need to get her to act the way she should.
     
  10. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Oct 30, 2008

    I'd be tempted to change my seating arrangement and put her in the back of the class so she doesn't visually disrupt the other students - even if it means changing your entire desk arrangement. You can surround her in the back row with students who don't have a problem concentrating. Perhaps if no one can see her "acting cool" then it won't have the same reward. My growing concern would be (as is yours) that the rest of the class was suffering because of one child's disruption.
     
  11. Luv2Learn

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    Oct 30, 2008

    I don't know if this would carry in a 2nd grade, but I was curious of how her classmates feel when this student acts as she does. Maybe if it is bothering some of them (have any come to speak with you?), had an intervention where they epressed their feelings about her behavior and it's effect on them. For example, if they are late to specials and the specials teacher shows that she/he is upset at the whole class, I'm sure it has got to bother a few of them.

    Again, I'm not sure how appropriate it would be at that age, and you may need to be a moderator so that it doesn't get to harsh. But maybe if she sees that her behavior is not effecting just yourself, but also effecting her classmates, it may temper her a bit.

    Did she show up in class today?

    Kris
     
  12. yearroundteach

    yearroundteach Companion

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    Nov 1, 2008

    It's hard to see in the moment that the situation could be funny. In certain times of the day, I could certainly try some of the methods you have mentioned above. My only fear is that she would expect this all the time and still not listen during the times when I can't catch her attention with humor. But, what has been happening isn't working; so I must try something new and this could be one facet of it. Thank you for your kind words and ideas. I certainly hope I can crack this one before she cracks me! :)
     
  13. yearroundteach

    yearroundteach Companion

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    It is funny that you mentioned this because on Thursday, before I left for the much needed long weekend, I moved her desk to the back of the group by 2 of my least distractable students. I say least distractable because all 2nd graders are distracted to some extent but these 2 should be able to handle it the best. When Monday comes we shall see if it helps. I don't know how much it will help her (at least in the short term) but I hope it will at least help some of the other students concentrate.
     
  14. yearroundteach

    yearroundteach Companion

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    This may be a direction I need to go eventually. In 2nd grade it would take some work because they just don't have the skills yet to be diplomatic. It is hard for them to express anger, disappointment, etc. without being mean. I think with some practice though a few could get it. None have specifically come to me to express their annoyance but I have seen signs. There have been eye rolls, heads down on desks in exasperation, etc.; but again those aren't the most productive responses (though they are what I feel like doing to her sometimes) and would require some work to help them understand how to express their feelings to her.

    I should mention, however, that she is one of the more popular girls in class with the other students. Even the ones who are rolling their eyes at her while waiting for her to get in line; are the ones waiting outside to play with her. Our world would be a much better place if we all had the forgiving capacity of 7 year olds. I need to tap that resource also. Maybe I could have students write an essay of someone in class they like/respect/admire and why. A few of the girls are sure to pick her and maybe it could help me gain some insight into some of her positives and strengths and use those to my advantage.

    Yes she did show up on Thursday. We had kind of a special day, however, with lessons outside the classroom and a few assemblies; so I wasn't really able to observe her behavior. One of the other teacher's whose classroom she went to at some point did mention her flippant attitude and lack of participation. No surprise to me but disappointing none-the-less. And mom sent no note as to why she was absent so who knows....
     
  15. Special-t

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    Nov 2, 2008

    I'm so curious to see if this helps. Let us know how it goes.
     

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