Monday, April 03, 2006

All in a Day?

Today, the classroom was a madhouse. My students were behaved, but there were surprising changes throughout the day. First, a teacher at my school has a habit of being absent. This is the third Monday in a row that he has called in. Instead of getting a substitute, they split his class. So I had two of his students in my class. They are there so often that they are already well-versed on my behavior management system and my routines, but they are not up-to-date on lessons and get frustrated by the lack of consistency. As do I.

The reason this teacher's class is split up when he is absent is because they are "too out of control for a sub." Technically, the entire school is out of control. More students are being lead out in handcuffs, more teachers are being injured on the job, and the teachers' suggestions to the administration are rarely carried out. Intimidation has obviously not worked, and actually seems to feed the behavior problems. It seems we are teaching our students that intimidation equals power. If they spend long enough at my school, they become pros at intimidation. So, to combat the rising problems in violence, the administration hired on another person to assist the Crisis Intervention Teacher. We now have two intimidating people walking the halls and threatening the students with time in the crisis room if they act up. One day soon, I'm sure they will both be absent for some reason, and the students will act terribly. The administration will blame the teachers for not having control, when instead they should look at how the students are learning to only listen to these muscle-bound, hulking figures.

Next, a student I previously wrote about was removed from her foster home on Wednesday. Another was removed from her foster home on Tuesday. Though I knew about both of these removals, it did not make it any easier to deal with their actual absences and the student responses. I don't know where either one of them are, I did not get to discuss with them the change about to take place in their lives, and I will probably never hear about them again.

After that, around 10:30, there was yet another removal. I have a 10 year old student living in a horrible group home for teenage boys. We have been trying to get him placed in a good foster home since September. Today, a representative from the group home showed up and said he was leaving right then to go to a foster home. We all said good bye. There was much confusion and many tears. I had a conversation with my remaining students about change and how we can best deal with it. At about 1:00, the student was returned by the representative from the foster home, who said he had made a mistake. My student is moving tomorrow. So my very confused, frustrated student sat for the rest of the day, cursing to himself, and so withdrawn that no one was able to reach through the wall he had put up.

Amidst all of this, I also welcomed a new student to my class today. He is my first student who speaks English as a second language. His parents speak no English. Our school is not equipped for this. Of course, over the past year and a half, I have learned that my school is equipped for very little. I wonder what my student thought of this first day.

The worst part might be how good I have become at separating myself from it all, accepting the status quo and just doing what I can to get through the day. I'm a little angry, but a day like this used to exhaust me physically and spiritually. My school is already aware that I am applying to other schools in the city. I have found schools in similar neighborhoods that are somehow doing an amazing job in education. It is on these days that I am dying to know how they do it, so that I can be a part of some real change, instead of just getting by.


yomister said...

Just curious. How has your administration reacted to knowing that you're seeking out other schools for next year? I'm a little bit concerned that I'll face my administrators' wrath if they find out.

Oh. And good luck with the ELL student. I'm having a bit of a rough go with mine.

writingsam said...

At first, the administration seemed sadly defeated. They hear this news frequently. Then they tried a guilt trip, but overall it's been easier than I anticipated.

I was advised by some to not say anthing until I had been offered a position at another school. I chose not to because I wanted recommendations, and because I didn't foresee any big problems. I guess it's a judgment call based on who your administrators are and what your relationship is with them.