violent kids, trashed room.

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by donnaQuixote, May 5, 2017.

  1. donnaQuixote

    donnaQuixote New Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2017
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    1

    May 5, 2017

    I am a long term sub in a closed classroom for three students with Autism and developmental delay. I am their "homeroom." I am also the "homeroom" of a Kinder and First who have some time in a general ed classroom. I also have 6 other students who are in Gen Ed most of the day, but come to my room either as a resource room or for reading class. The kids are in Kindergarten, First Grade, and a Third Grader who is so low, he has nowhere else to go. The problem is the violence of two or three kids who trigger the other kids.

    My aide had to go the the nurse yesterday to get two icepacks, one for each cup in her bra. Same aide lost a tooth in a small focus room when the same child threw a wood block in her face. Also, she had to get an x-ray from a hard kick affecting her knee. A very strong 5 year old attempted to push our aide (who is 57) down a set of concrete steps (she had to bounce him back to break his full force.) She has been bit many times by another child. We both have had scissors thrown at us. We have both been slapped across the face multiple times (it is very hard not to slap back out of reflex, another subject entirely). We both have dodged punches, shoes, puzzles, toys, anything like that being thrown at us. I have been spat at, had loogies hocked in my face (that one I ducked), bit, etc. Other kids have gone home after emergencies such as getting a black eye, or one child (the one that gave the other child a black eye), he had to go home because his arm had a bite that not only bruised and broke skin, but almost took a chunk off right through the arm.

    Throwing chairs is the worst problem. These guys don't just throw a chair. They have learned this from another child. What they do is, they pick up a chair, spin around a few times and let go of the chair... it's all we can do to act fast and push kids out of the way (and we never know which direction the chair will fly). Now the other kids are doing this. But they're taking it up a notch and doing this at point blank range. I caught two chairs this week in midair at arms length from another child's head. The same day.

    We are in a small classroom with no windows except for a narrow window on our door, looking at a brick wall. It's hard to prep for their work for them to do and get out supplies when everything out becomes a game or a target. I tell new adults that come into my room "Don't put anything out you don't want thrown at you." They don't understand. Your drinks, chips, snacks, etc. are going to be thrown in anger or in a game to try to get attention.

    The kids are not allowed to eat in the cafeteria. They have to eat with me. During lunch, one of the kids thinks it is funny to spit masticated food in a 3 foot radius or stomp his food into the floor. Scissors cannot be left out, ever. If you jump up to help one kid from harm's way, you come back and your rolled velcro has been de-backed and 3 or 4 feet is wasted in under a minute. A well-meaning aide wanted to prep for the reading group's writing and when she came back, the supplies were trashed, except for the paper and pencil the child was drawing on. She had to reprep right when the reading group came to the table and by that time, of course, all but one kid wandered off to look at books or to join another group... Puzzle racks have to be hidden (my first day I did puzzles with my aide for about 1 hr solid), boom box has to be put up, chairs have to be removed... My sensory items are all getting destroyed... my bean bags were tossed for rips, trampoline is ripped, the OT balls are projectiles, the squeeze balls and Play-Doh were destroyed, and the only really good tools we have are some nice weighted blankets (We had 4--2 are missing or "borrowed"). Legs on the table are in need of being re-tightened once every quarater or so.

    I'd really like to set up a normal classroom with normal sensory spot, a lamp, rocking chair, bean bag, reading center, stations and dividers... but I am not sure I can risk that. I am doing the best I can having surfaces cleaned, seating which isn't a game to run around, enough chairs to sit on, but not too many (I have to stack and unstack chairs 3 or 4 times a day) and having a few surfaces to work at.

    I'd like to be able to use my word wall (it's ripped off the wall daily), my monthly calendar (again... ripped off daily) and my daily schedule and First/Then cards without them being ripped up or trashed. The room is very sterile and I am wondering HOW ON EARTH this is normal. Is this normal? Are these Pinterest pictures of cute functional autism classrooms fake, or do they ACTUALLY EXIST? Are your rooms trashed daily, and the pictures I see on Pinterest are the "Before" pictures in the morning before the class on a daily basis?

    I try to ask questions of my principal and student support, and from the higher level teacher across the hall. Is this normal? Why am I being told that it is normal, I'm doing a good job, this is a hard job, etc. and trying to do their best to blow off the situation and just to "do the best I can." I feel this type of pep talk isn't the truth at all, it's just just meant to give me peace of mind but I'm too smart to fall for it. I honestly think it's most likely they don't want to deal or help our team if they can get away with it. We're supposed to give time out, but we would have to hold the kids on their tummies to prevent them from beating us up in time out. I didn't sign up for a job to be a target dummy all day, and when they're working, they sometimes do very well. It's just hard to set up for their Unique Learning or work projects when I feel I'm just trying to keep them from killing each other, themselves, me, or else I am putting in a movie hoping they will just remain calm for a half hour and I "narrate" the movie" or prep a pencil and paper activity, HOPING not to have the room torn apart if I turn my back.

    Also, if another teacher comes in, they aren't doing work or watching a movie and our ESL teacher is concerned that her child isn't getting services and she's right. He needs a one on one, he doesn't have one, he's in diapers and nonverbal, and he runs around the room all day getting no attention while we put out fires.

    Am I not doing a good job, why can't my room be like the autism rooms on the blogs, and what can I do about the violence in the classrooms? We can't send the kids to the office, we can't send them home (which makes me feel like we are a paid-by-the-hour babysitting service), our sensory tools are ehhh, and I don't know if me being a sub (again, an easy target for being BS'ed) is at all a part of not being able to defend myself against the hazardous behaviors. Is this normal? I'm a sub, been at this job for 6 months so far, and I have no clue what is right and what is bullcrap.
     
    AmyMyNamey likes this.
  2.  
  3. Lisabobisa

    Lisabobisa Companion

    Joined:
    May 6, 2011
    Messages:
    239
    Likes Received:
    70

    May 5, 2017

    My room looks nothing like the rooms on Pinterest. My classroom decor includes desk/seat for each student, a white board, a calendar, classroom rules, and a word wall. That's it. And my students are distracted enough as it is by just that! (Keep in mind I do teach high school and do not have much experience with the little ones)

    Are you trained in any crisis prevention techniques (Safety-Care, CPI, PCM, etc.)?

    Gymnastic mats may be helpful.
    upload_2017-5-5_8-12-47.jpeg
    You can use them to block the chairs/hits/etc, or use them to partition your classroom.

    Can you remove the chairs altogether for the time being?
    Maybe incorporate something like this instead?
    upload_2017-5-5_8-11-42.jpeg

    or even this?
    upload_2017-5-5_8-13-24.jpeg

    Also, your decorations can be moved up out of their reach.

    The problem with an autism classroom in a general education school is that no one really knows what it should look like. It's a lot of guess and check. It makes it hard when the administration doesn't really have experience with autism, because they don't really know what to do either. I work now in a school specifically for autism, and I still get chairs thrown at me every now and then.

    You are doing fine! It's not an easy job for sure, but you are making a difference. Small gains are still gains.
     
    AmyMyNamey and otterpop like this.
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,491
    Likes Received:
    2,517

    May 5, 2017

    What does "bounce him back" mean?
     
  5. justwanttoteach

    justwanttoteach Cohort

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2013
    Messages:
    569
    Likes Received:
    75

    May 5, 2017

    STAY OFF PINTREST! You didn't become a teacher for the neatly decorated classroom! You became one to help kids. Right? Worry less about the decor of the room and more about how you are helping students and keeping them safe. Is this normal? Normal is a relative term. No Sped class is exactly the same when compared to other classrooms of similar make up. I think you are doing a disservice to yourself and students be focusing on is this normal. For right now, this is their normal or their reality. They still have to be taught coping skills and replacement behaviors. I am shocked that they have a long term sub in such a high liability situation. Special Ed kids and departments are often seen as the red headed step child of education. Your dealing with people who look at people and only see someones DISabilities and are unable to focus on the kids actual abilities and talents. Special Education teachers do much more than teach the kids. They educate the parents and the staff who work with them about the kids unique abilities and needs. This goes for every staff member on campus INCLUDING the principal. To often sped teachers are seen as the AUTISM Guru...and because they are the ones who deal with these kids all day are considered the experts. Teachers and staff who dont work with these kiddos done know their needs and often are afraid to do something that might set a student off or interrupt the structured routines the sped teachers have worked out for that child. HANG IN THERE...
     
  6. donnaQuixote

    donnaQuixote New Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2017
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    1

    May 5, 2017

    Thanks guys. Lisabobisa, Caesar753 and Justwanttoteach.

    I feel better knowing that baby steps have occurred throughout the last six months. I have mats. I can get those chairs. I now have some ideas about separating spaces so the children are more spread out and not bouncing off each other.

    Caesar, my aide pushed back the child and he bounced off her and fell backwards. If she pushed him at all, it was just to save her from a broken leg! Ouch. That poor woman.

    I am a long term sub because the real teacher is on admin leave. I'll leave the reason for that to your imagination but believe me, it's shocking but... unproven. If the allegations are untrue, I lose my position. We have a low pop district, not a lot of educated people, low pay and about 8 SpEd positions open, let alone the most dangerous 3 kids in the district! We have behaviorists coming in once a week and people seem to appreciate me.
     
  7. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
    Messages:
    3,973
    Likes Received:
    1,571

    May 5, 2017

    Are you able to paint walls? Maybe get permission to paint some key things on walls, if things keep getting ripped off. You could do a sight word wall, or even some pictures that kids could point to if they were nonverbal and needed that. It seems like you have a very good handle on what's going on, although it does sound terribly frustrating.

    I don't teach SpEd, but I have learned that routine is maybe the single most important step for classroom management. Do these kids have a very easily predictable routine for their day? Do you have a visual schedule so they can see what's coming up next?

    Keep searching for non-destroyable teaching methods. There's still room for error here, but you could use whiteboard markers on a table to eliminate the need for paper. Self-adhesive velcro can be stuck to table tops to provide sensory input. I wouldn't put out anything that was able to be thrown.
     
    Lisabobisa likes this.
  8. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2010
    Messages:
    471
    Likes Received:
    318

    May 6, 2017

    On Pinterest you will see fake scenes and deliberate set-ups teachers will use as artifacts and self-promotion. Yes, teachers can be entirely duplicitous. I have known teachers in my own building who will wax eternally over what talented, gifted, and dedicated teachers they are, when in fact they are miserable, hateful, cruel trolls who despise and abuse the children in their class. Bear in mind: Many teachers use Pinterest for advertising and self-promotion.

    That said, you are being taken advantage of. Your administrators know this. It is deliberate. They are telling you how wonderful things are because they don't want you to leave.

    You are understaffed. You are untrained. You are in the most hostile work environment I can imagine, and your administration does not seem to have a care for your personal safety. But they don't want you to leave, because it is probably very difficult to get anyone into that position. I wonder why....

    I don't know these students of yours. I don't know the extent of their handicaps. Their behavior could be learned, it could be what they are accustomed to getting away with. It could be that they are inherently and unavoidably this violent.

    Personally, I would set up the room for safety first. I would plan lessons with personal safety in mind. I would not give the children more opportunities to hurt someone than absolutely necessary because of some misguided sense of obligation. If they are not normal children, and you are giving them access to scissors and other devices they will use as weapons, responsibility for their actions ultimately falls upon you. If a child seriously injures another and your administrators are put against a wall, they will turn on you in short order.

    Again, I don't know these kids. I don't know if these behaviors can be mitigated. I do know that you are in way over your head right now. No one should be in such personal danger on a daily basis at work, not without the training and resources to protect themselves and others. And a decent paycheck. Administrators should be supporting you, not placating you.

    Don't take your cues from Pinterest. Seek out other special needs teachers and get their help directly. And stay safe.
     
    anon55, Lisabobisa and otterpop like this.
  9. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    Messages:
    3,061
    Likes Received:
    538

    May 6, 2017

    You have received a lot of fantastic advice from some very qualified teachers. My two cents is that in my province, the work place health and safety department has a slogan: "Work shouldn't hurt". If you worked in our division, I would be encouraging you to file a work place health and safety report and then calling a union staff officer.
     
    AmyMyNamey likes this.
  10. ktmiller222

    ktmiller222 Cohort

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    Messages:
    518
    Likes Received:
    14

    May 11, 2017

    Have you tried turning the lights down if you are able to or put some covering to block some light? Also, have you played some soft instrumental music throughout the day. You def. have a tough classroom. I think it's more sensory than anything. Can you contact the special ed director/pupil services director for help?
     
  11. lovemymonsters

    lovemymonsters Rookie

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2017
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    1

    Nov 11, 2017

    Wow - that sounds exactly like my classroom! Last year, we had 3 violent, aggressive students who required 2 on one support in ONE classroom!!! This year is better, as it is basically just one (the other rarely comes to school). He is quite a terror, though, and it sets the rest of the room off when he is having a rough day. AmyMyNamey is absolutely right - your admin must address these issues with you, and provide you with the proper supports necessary to keep EVERYONE safe! Forget about pretty classrooms and cute little workstations. I don't know the profiles of your learners, but I would take a look at their sensory needs and communication challenges to try and address the behaviours. Im also a firm believer that positivity and consistency is the way to build rapport with students. Display boards can be repaired - relationships are more important. Maybe ask for another aide?In my area, the best way to get more help is when kids start hurting staff members or attempting to bolt.
     
  12. ca_sped

    ca_sped Rookie

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2013
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    6

    Nov 12, 2017

    I agree with the others. Don't focus on the was the classroom looks. Mine is minimally decorated, and I always tell my staff I can replace/repair anything, but I can't replace or repair people. We need to save ourselves and the other students first. I currently have two students like yours, and it's not fun to evacuate the classroom while the students tear it up, but that's what has to be done to keep everyone safe while we try and teach the replacement behaviors.

    If you can, can you try focusing on changing the behaviors? Reward every positive behavior you see, even if it's sitting in a chair for .03 seconds properly, throwing something in the trashcan, or doing anything that you would like other student to replicate. Behaviors like these are learned and serve a purpose for the student, the challenge is to figure out what that function is and to teach them a better way to serve the purpose. It's not easy, and it can take months, but sometimes, that's the actual purpose of our jobs. My paras know that behavior management is our first job, any academics we get in are secondary (and we do get in a lot of academics, but it's a process).
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. CDOR79,
  2. decoweb,
  3. MrsC,
  4. Daniroze
Total: 474 (members: 5, guests: 452, robots: 17)
test