show me, teach me, blog me

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 14 2007

One of my students is off his medication for ADHD.  In the past there have been days where he hasn’t taken it and on those days I have literally had to throw myself in between him and other students in order to get him to not hit another child.  When he is on his medication he is a sweet, helpful child who does great things.  When he is off his meds he becomes violent, disrespectful, and the biggest obstacle to teaching. 

He’s been off his medication for the past three weeks.  Challenging is an understatement.

However, I was not prepared for Monday.  The morning did not go smoothly, he began the day defiant, glaring at me, threatening other students and clenching his fists.  By the afternoon he shut down completely.  Knowing that he was off his medication, I was walking on eggshells and told him that he had to do work if he was going to be in my classroom.  I couldn’t allow him to sleep on his desk.  He FLIPPED out.  Screaming in my face, running around the room, throwing things around, kicking chairs and then he said “I’m going HOME!” and ran toward the door.  I sprinted and pressed my body against the door.  When this child said that he was going home I believed that he would walk right out the door and out the school. 

He screamed, “MOVE!”  He shrieked.  He cried.  He sobbed.  He kicked the door.  He kicked me.  He pushed me.  He said “I’m calling my MOM!” then walked toward the phone.  I ran toward the phone to unplug it.  He ran toward the door.  I ran faster and stopped him.  He kicked the garbage can over.  I called out to another student to call 0 and ask for security.  The office told the students to tell me to “send him down here.”  I shouted, “He won’t make it there!”  No help.  So I started teaching math…from my position barricading the door.  “Class, let’s not let this little distraction keep us from learning.  There is so much that we need to get to do today.  Please open your journals to page 207….”

Eventually I stopped another teacher and asked for help in getting him to the office.  He took a time out and then was sent back to my class.  I refused to allow him back in.  So he got to go to the library and help the librarian all day. 

Tuesday was not as bad.  He was defiant, but I never pushed him and he didn’t do any work, but didn’t cause a huge scene. 

On Wednesday it was the day of our big benchmark test.  He flipped out, but this time we were in the computer lab.  There were two doors.  There were big round tables and chairs.  My students were supposed to be taking a test on the computer and I was supposed to be proctoring the exam.  Instead I chased this child around the computer lab, he crawled under tables and laughed in my face when I tried to stop him.  When I restrained him from running out the door by holding his arms against his body he shouted “I’m telling [the principal] that YOU HIT ME!”  Gah!  I call security…no answer.  Thankfully the special ed teacher walked in and helped me out, so I was able to find the assistant principal to take him away.  He was taken to the office where he took his benchmark tests.  I stopped in on my planning time to talk to him to see if he would apologize and he refused to look at me or talk to me.  I spoke to the assistant principal who said “He said that he wants to go to the library but I won’t let him get his way.   He’ll probably be returning to your classroom.”  Wonderful. 

Thankfully he was sent to my lead teacher’s room for the remainder of the day.  My lead teacher was told that if he caused any trouble he was to write the student up.  And guess what…he caused trouble.  He refused to go to gym class.  Just wouldn’t move. 

So now justice is served and D.C. is suspended for 10 days. 

I’m not happy about the suspension, but relieved that the school is sending a big message to his family that he needs to be ready to learn when he comes to school.  I will be sending a big package of homework for him.  I’m hopeful that we will never see this side of D.C. again.  I want the sweet helpful child back. 

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    An Elementary School Teacher in the Show Me State

    St. Louis
    Elementary School
    Elementary Education

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