In my recent post, “Interruption or Opportunity?” I wrote about J., a special education student that has been placed in my classroom. Our week was going well until yesterday when J. got upset with an aide who was working with him in the center room of our pod of classrooms. He doesn’t have very good reasoning skills, and when he gets upset he puts his head down on the table and refuses to budge. Well, he was in this mode when the aide needed to leave. I just told her, “I can see him from here, so he’ll be okay.” She left, and I continued teaching, leaving J. to himself. This is the first time he has gotten upset since being in my class, but I had heard about episodes like this at his previous school, and I really didn’t want it to escalate into something more.
After a while he came back into the classroom and sat down at his desk. I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking he was over it. Then recess rolled around. I had yard duty so I needed to get out on the playground. J. refused to budge. After explaining to him that I had yard duty and needed to go to the playground, he just ignored me and refused to get up. I finally grabbed his hand and said, “Come on buddy. We need to go to the yard.” I finally got him out of the classroom and to the playground.
When recess ended, he wouldn’t come back into the classroom. I wasn’t going to fight it so I said, “Okay, I’ll just call the office.” In the past the scenario would play out like this: J. would get frustrated and shut down. Eventually he would run out of the classroom and refuse to go back in. The principal would call his parent and suspend him for the rest of the day, or call the police.” I really didn’t want things to play out in the usual way because I didn’t want to reinforce that when J. doesn’t like something, he can shut down, and then he can go home.
His mom came to school and she remained with him for the rest of the day. He didn’t get to go home, and I was glad for that. He had a productive afternoon and left in a good mood.
This morning was tenuous. I didn’t know if he would work for me, be anxious about coming back into the room, or what would happen. On the way to school I prayed for him, hoping that he would have a good day. Well, his day was great today. He was cooperative, worked hard, and was all-around pleasant.
We had a math test today on place value. He struggled with the first one and was trying a second time to see if he had learned the material. Since he has such trouble with reading, I read the instructions and the problems to him, and he wrote his answers. I sat next to him and watched him write correct answer after correct answer. When all was said and done he only missed three problems. I sat there blinking back tears when I realized that he scored proficient on the standards that were being assessed. It is a great success for him, and a huge blessing to me. I called his mom after school and asked her if she was sitting down. Then I shared the story of J.’s success with her. She was blown away. What a day!