Worst. Day. of. School. Imaginable. / by Alan Strathman

I wrote the part below Friday afternoon, after I dismissed the children and was staying behind because one boy was misbehaving and would not complete the work.

Friday the 18th: Ugh! Worst day imaginable at school.  Worst. Day. Imaginable.  I just don't know what to do when a child knows there is just nothing you can do to them when they misbehave.  This one boy today would not stop hitting, misbehaving, disrupting.  He didn't even make an effort to do work for even one minute.  And it is a terrible influence on the rest of the class.

At this moment, he and I are the only ones left in the room now that the rest of the boys have gone for the day.  To go home he just has to do the same work all the other boys did.  And I even made it easier for him to encourage him to do it.  Nope.   I hate that I have let the situation become so adversarial.

The behavior thermometer, which I wrote about earlier, works for the majority of the children, but some children are just not able to manage their behavior.  I have had many conversations with friends and colleagues about how much of what some children do is not within their control.  And yet, this boy has to do the assigned work.

 In part, he behaves better with other teachers because he knows they will hit him if he acts up.  Since I am unwilling to hit any of the kids, I'm stuck.

OK he made an effort at the work.  But his effort gives me a better understanding of his behavior. He wrote mostly gibberish.  Before she left for a meeting Miss A wrote some numbers on one side of the board (e.g., 21, 36) and then some numbers written out in words (e.g., twelve, forty-five), and students had to translate the first half into words and the second half into numbers. This students' responses showed me that this work was far too hard for him.  From the beginning he knew he would not be able to do the work successfully so he just never tried and instead acted out.

Follow-up on Sunday the 20th: There are, in fact, six (which, btw, is 6) of the 16 (sixteen) students in this class who could not do the work.  During my training, and in the classroom observations before I left, I learned about the value of differentiated instruction.  Even before this incident on Friday I had told my teacher that I thought we needed to stop doing whole-class lessons and group children according to their ability and give them different instruction.  And Friday was the last straw. We will have differentiated instruction as often as necessary from now on.  In all likelihood it will be Miss A. instructing the 10 more able students and me instructing the 6 struggling students.   Six is a somewhat large group for a pull-out lesson but I think we have no choice.

And Miss A. and I need to build much more structure into the day. With more structure and routine, and differentiated instruction, I think we can help the students make more progress.