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Saturday, October 20, 2012

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Oh Mary Ann.......

wow. one reason why I don't substitute any more...though I've not been in a situation this extreme, I've had my share of challenging classroom behaviors and I can imagine the frustration you feel! No wonder you want to come home to a sunset, your art journals, and maybe a martini! hang in there dear...are you sure you can't get 'combat pay?!'

I'm ignorant here, I only have a 3 year old so have yet to face the public school system, but how is this child allowed back in? I realize that we are all guaranteed a free, appropriate public education, but how is this okay to put the other children and not to mention yourself in actual physical danger?
I'm kind of shocked and concerned as a parent to a very kind, shy, and slightly absentminded 3 year old.
I would be furious if my child was subjected to this kind of peer behavior.
Thoughts?

yeah. this would put me over deep end. the day someone blasted spit on me is the day they'd find themselves in an aggressive headlock at the least. i'm very happy that i teach adult ed.... i can't even handle well-behaved children let alone this! (sorry, not that my comment makes you feel any better!...) hang in there mary ann...you're a saint! xo

This is truly a horror story. I home educated my children from beginning to end so I can't even relate to what goes on the classroom...but this is much worse than I could imagine. My hopes and prayers go out to you for a way to make a difference.

Very discouraging if this is typical grammar used by teachers today. No wonder the kids have problems.

I am sorry, but, I do not understand how this student can remain in your classroom. He is a danger to you, his classmates and himself. If he were to hurt another student, wouldn't the school district be liable? I admire your strength and courage. Your art and travel is truly a release for the stress you encounter. Positive nought a to you

This is the very reason why this is my husband's last year teaching middle school. It is all too common. And sometimes the parents are just as bad. Judy G, there is a serious shortage of subs, and, frankly, you can't be picky. They can't even get subs to come to my husband's school. We are going to be in a crisis situation in a few years when the experienced teachers have had enough, and younger teachers won't last!

Wow, girl. I've got a tall,frosty drink headed out on wings to your door. Teachers honestly deserve a whole heck of a lot more in pay than I know you get. Seriously!!! And no lie I was thinking about you today while walking Miss Fibi, it was lightly raining and we ambled on by the grade school that resides along our back yard, I found myself thinking of you and wondering what kind of day you were having. I couldn't help but see into the class rooms, the tops of little heads bent over books, given the rain, afternoon recess had been cancelled so I know that teachers were faced with an overly energetic bunch of wee ones and not so wee ones. I see these kids, hear them, every day rain or shine, winter and snow occasionally thrown in for good measure, I found myself wondering how the teachers were fairing since this is the first day it's rained since school began in September. I'm thinking they don't have a story that compares to yours, or maybe they do. I just know that no one should have to deal with someone else's child when their behavior clearly crosses the boundaries of personal safety. It's just kind of crazy. If a child cannot control his emotions, cannot follow the rules of the classroom, then that child needs to be evaluated before placement into any school classroom. My kids all attended public school, into HS. No horror stories tho a teacher was suspended for shoving a kid head first into a locker because the student; a 6th grader had called him (insert F***** expletive) that story made the local news and a great many teachers spoke up about kids who simply don't belong into the classroom; that teachers can only take so much. Since when do teachers have to be trained in self defense???? tho I know a great many are. Mary Ann, just know that there are parents who know you are an awesome teacher, kids that love and adore you, that WANT to be in your room everyday, that probably get more attention from you than they do at home but I feel sad for you, if my arms were long enough I'd wrap you up in a bear hug and put a great big gold star on your forehead, put you to bed with a good book, a cup of tea and tell ya tomorrow has to be a better day..It just has too.

sorry, your in a war zone and so are all the other kids. I work with disabilities and somone like this little person should not be in your classroom but I know how it goes. The other kids and you have no rights, what is wrong with our system. Think of what else you might like to do as this is not worth it but then again we all have insurance and money issues. Will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Not to be a Negative Nelly, but for having driven a school bus for a little bit now K-12 (usually three school each morning and evening) and couple yrs there a 'special need' bus. You can pick out the children that have parents that parent. Then you have truly 'special needs' kiddos...and then you have the SLIC kids (similar to what you describe above). Whew...talk about using your CPI training (non-violent way of restraining), yes? This is just my opinion and I CERTAINLY understand how those kiddos cannot be in a regular ed classroom, but we have something that is rumbling below growing into a bigger problem year by year and I do believe it's quite frankly how some parents are 'afraid to parent'....who else does a bus driver call? Usually those kids you know there name really quick-they are either hurting others or just BOUNCY off the walls. So, I hear it directly from these well-meaning parents: I don't want them to be mad at me...I don't know what to do...we changed their medications...I'm just not there I have to work....or worse- give excuses for everything their children do and be against those that are wanting the best for their children (teachers/administrators/...those will soon change into cops/parole officers). We need to get back to true parenting, boundaries, not having too much/allowing too soon..or do I dare say being careful what you ingest while you are pregnant....parents feeling empowerment and putting high honor of the fact of having a child. *sigh* I step off my soap box...hey, I've raised one and have a 16 yr old still at home..I KNOW...to parent correctly is tough work...and you can have a little fun with it. The work pays off...I think people are surprised when they find out my 16 yr. old son still likes spending time with me ...and his friends, but he certainly finds time for both ;) What you do is important and highly under appreciated!!!! That is something we need to change,too...people really don't know what you guys are up against with all this budget stuff...and I will continue to take them home so you can go home and REST!!! :)

He is a danger to other's and himself and should not be in the classroom. He would benefit from an alternative classroom as well. The parent(s) should be ashamed of themselves, and so should administration. The other children can not learn in that hostile of an environment. I pray the child gets the help he needs, but it may be too late. He will probably end up in prison. So sad!

Oh. My. God.!!!! I have to say this is the worst classroom scenario I've ever heard or read about. This can't possibly be allowed. You and the other kids are at risk having to deal with this kid.

I think I'd be putting up surveillance cameras, recording the class daily. If the school won't do anything about this, then I'd go to the media with a taping of this kind of event. I'm so saddened by the quality of life in the schools today. School was such a joy to me back in the dinosaur era when I was a student. I don't ever remember more than a fight between boys on the playground...that was about as violent as it got...to see this kind of behavior from such young kids is really disturbing. No wonder you want another way of making a living.

Hope some solutions to this problem are found for you and the rest of your class. Big hugs, a tall one, some good music, some zen moments are long over due you.

Wow. As a former classroom teacher, and having seen a lot, I'm still shocked. A big part of the reason these kids remain in the regular ed classrooms, from my experience, is that schools don't want to classify a child because they will then have to pay to provide special ed services for the child. It's far cheaper to leave the kid in the classroom and hope things will work out. There are also some parents who don't want their children classified as needing special services, and this is an additional problem. I have had violent or disruptive children in the classroom, kids whose needs and behaviors were completely distracting and dangerous to the other children in the room. Yet the parents wanted their child placed in with other children, and because families are allowed to have a "least restrictive environment" for their child's education, that means they are allowed to remain.

I'm glad my kids are grown, and I hope my grandson will be homeschooled one day.

The situation that you describe is absolutely shocking to me. If this happened on the street, that kid would be charged with assault - I can't believe it is allowed to take place in a classroom. Mary Ann, I admire you for so many reasons but even more so for having the courage to face the possibility of this sort of situation every day and for handling it when it does. Teachers certainly should be revered for doing the job they do, I know I couldn't do it under these circumstances! Bless you.

sheesh. I'm speechless. Were I a parent with a child in your class, I'd bring you daily lattes and cases of wine. I've seen a few wild kiddos over the years, but it seems like you have an unfair share. Here's hoping the parents and administration get a clue. Here's hoping that something somehow reaches these kids. Here's hoping for whatever helps you get through.

My hat's off to you for the work you do. I doubt if I would last five seconds with a student like that! How sad is it when our society comes to this point where it's okay for a child to behave like this and not be disciplined in some way.

And the letter looks as if it's been written by an uneducated person! The handwriting is terrible and the spelling is ridiculous.

mary ann, this breaks my heart for you and for Mr. T.
how can the child get the help he needs? is it a money issue? a social services issue? and all of the above?

is there any way we can help??

it's just wrong - he needs to be in the right class... he should have an IEP in place. is he diagnosed with ADHD, autism, abuse?? and you need some respite from the emotional and physical stress of it all. oy vey, indeed. i wish i could do something to help.

i was a highschool teacher in a public school. i know the joys of teaching, and the horrors as well. hence, i'm no longer in the field of 'child wrangling'...


This was written by a certified teacher? Please tell me it is not true. This person writes at a second grade level and is allowed to supervise and "teach" students. The grammar and spelling is horrifying. How does this person teach, much less manage behaviors that are complex?

Do you have union you can file a grievance with? That is assault and if the school adminstration does not take care of your safety you need to get the union in. I would also make a police report. Who knows what goes on at this child's home. A police report would get CPS involved. This abuse also qualifies as bullying and the school has to do something about it. You cannot teach effectively and your students cannot learn if you all are walking on eggshells wondering what will set off this child. Now that there are two similar incidents, the school administration would be absolutely negligent in allowing this child to remain in the classroom and exposing both you and the other students to the risk of harm. This child sounds capable of severly hurting someone. I feel for you. Keep us posted.

so, so sorry Mary Ann. Teachers do not get paid enough, I have always maintained. You must feel awful for the other students in your class, what a crazy environment!

So sad that this is what you have to deal with and that other children who want and needmto learn are denied this privilege because of whatever is causing and tolerating this behavior. What can we do? Any suggestions? These children and their education or lack of are our future! I so enjoy your posts, travels, journals, etc., and this one was hard to read- but glad you brought attention to a very real problem. Somehow we must take our schools back. God bless you for hanging in there and doing what you do. And as far as the sub goes, people please don't judge a book by it's cover.

I am leary of giving advice when the "child" may not be diagnosed, or when I don't know the willingness of the parents, or the stance of your principal, but you absolutely have all of my support, and if there is anything I can do I am here.

I just had a thought, but I don't know the politics of LAUSD, but what if I had one of my adult male friends come into your classroom for a general respect talk, nothing directed at any one individual, but a more watered down to lemonade level 'Scared Straight' kind of thing. No yelling, no cursing, more of a Nelson Mandela vibe. I know a few Naval Officers, several police men, some fire fighters, and my ex math teacher is the mother of Jimmy Smith, who may or may not call me friend. He was the bad _ss on Fight Quest, and now I believe he is involved with American Ninja. Just a thought.

One last thought. To the commenters that commented on the lack of professionalism of the substitute's letter. It is quite possible this poor man was a bit shaken up after the day he had. Kids can really rattled one's nerves, so please, please find the compassion, here is a man that wants to teach your children. He wants to help shape a child's future. He wants to make a difference, because even I know he's not in it for the money, so please... I know there have been numerous times when I have thrown in one too many commas, used the wrong tense, heck this comment has lousy sentence structure.... If he was your friend wouldn't offer him a shoulder? or an ear?

maybe a drink?

Wow. As a parent with 2 kids in public school (3rd and 6th), and as a school volunteer in the classroom and LMC, I can honestly say, I have never seen or heard of anything even close to that happening at our school. It wouldn't be tolerated by the administrators, and certainly not by the parents. Heaven help the parents of a child that behaved that way toward one of my kids. And I'd have the school district by the short-hairs also. As for you Mary Ann, I'd reiterate the suggestion from above to contact your union. I'd also give some thought to finding out what legal protections you have. The school district is obligated to educate those kids, but they are also obligated to ensure a safe working environment for their employees.

Oh my god, I'm speechless.

I like your word "meandered" re: the aide. It is frustrating enough to have this in the classroom but to be on your own with no support from administration is especially disheartening. In a "middle income" neighborhood , perhaps parents would complain about the disruption of their own kids' learning but unfortunately there won't be enough parents who are comfortable, confident or aware to to complain. It's good that you have a neighbor to help a little bit. Yes, what is your union saying? LAUSD is supposed to have a strong ATF presence - I thought.

When unknowing individuals outside the system offer self-righteous indignation at our schools, it adds to the feeling of being abandoned. What sucks the most is you being on your own. I'm sorry you have to go through this. I'm sorry for the other kids as well. A child like this is stealing their opportunity as well.

It is time for that LOA, darlin

Time for special Kool-Aid!

It's not that schools are "allowed" to provide a "least restrictive environment", they are REQUIRED to provide it whether it is in best interests of student. The original intent sounded good, however as less money is available special services continue to be reduced. It seems to hinge primarily on dollars.

Seriously , this note was written by a substitute teacher? My husband needs a job and has worked in mental health ....I told him to apply!

If the stress of working with difficult children causes this teacher to lose his basic grip of the English language, then he belongs in another career. A sub who functions at such a low level under ANY circumstances certainly would not be smart enough to handle difficult situations.

By the way, I am a special education teacher who works with behaviorally disturbed teens. I have 15 years in this setting.

My situation was not as dire as yours, but teaching in the slums many years ago almost gave me a nervous breakdown. I had to get out and I did. Whatever you decide, Miss MAM, we're going to give you our love and support.

Wow. I don't even have words for this. I am so sorry you have to deal with this. It's absolutely insane that you have no support, nor does the child or the other children in your class. I hope you get the transfer you are applying for. I can't think of another work environment (other that prison) where a person would be expected to put up with abuse of any kind. Seems like it should be illegal to expect that of you.

Sweet M~A, I'm so sorry to read this.
Sad about all the traumatised beings involved, and the systems that no longer serve the individuals involved.

Please keep yourself as safe and well and equilibriumed as you can within it all, while you must be there, and please find your way to pass the baton and move on into easier, gentler, kinder, more systematically clued-in, pastures as soon as you can.

I can imagine there will be sadness for you, at not being able to change it all for the better - seems from so many experienced-teacher feedbacks, here and previously, that moving away really is the wisest move sometimes.

You gave, and continue to give, what you could while it made good sense. An you gave, and give, great inspiration and deep real nourishment, which will feed those young ones for a long long time, I am sure.

I send you wishes for Peace amidst it all, and the strength and patience and sharp instincts to see you through to your next chapter.
May it be one made of many good stories, one rich with respect and caring kind awareness for everyone in it.

BigWarmth to you. xxxj

Well, I wish I could be shocked, but I am not because I have been in your shoes up here in WA. For a time I worked as either a 1-on-1 or a"shadow" teacher for several emotionally challenged students, some mainstreamed part of the day, some so dangerous that they had to be in a classroom by themselves. I have been bitten, kicked, spat upon, and told "I know where you live and I am going to burn your house down when you are asleep." I had a small wiry 8 year old try, and nearly succeed to lift an overstuffed armchair to throw at me, so violent was his rage. But usually I was there temporarily while a 30-day evaluation was taking place. And always, the child was then placed where he could get more help than a general classroom could provide. My first thought was please talk to someone in your union. Dysfunctional schools in dysfunctional districts are often overwhelmed beyond the breaking point. The volcano erupting in your classroom will get little attention if the entire school is already in flames, and you know that better than we do because you live it every day. But someone needs to intervene on your behalf before serious injury happens and if your principal will not do it then your union needs to step up. I am so so sorry you have to endure this. I know how draining it is to deal with it all day.

Good Lord. Hard to know what to say about all this. What an impossible situation for you and all the rest to be in. And the poor children--both the problematic ones who need help and non-problematic ones who need help of a different sort. How in the world did society and our educational system get to this point?! Even if only in one school district (and it's obvious that it's not only one place)! What an uphill battle to turn the situation around! Sending prayers for strength and peace to deal with all of this. :(

Good Lord. Hard to know what to say about all this. What an impossible situation for you and all the rest to be in. And the poor children--both the problematic ones who need help and non-problematic ones who need help of a different sort. How in the world did society and our educational system get to this point?! Even if only in one school district (and it's obvious that it's not only one place)! What an uphill battle to turn the situation around! Sending prayers for strength and peace to deal with all of this. :(

Mr. Burg!

Until you get transferred, I am going to try to find Mr. Burg. He was amazing, and I think he might be able to help. He taught me at Tincher, and he could tame the wildest beasts Long Beach had to offer. During the last "pink slip" budget cut he got transferred, but I will try to find him. Hang in there little lady!

Mary Ann, your post couldn't have come at a better time for me. I live in Idaho and there are 3 education propositions that we are voting on in the November election. I was fairly certain that I would be voting "no" on them but after reading this...I am now certain! Idaho is in dire need of educational reform but these propositions limit a teacher's ability to find a solution for the exact situation you find yourself in. The thought of my 11 and 6 year olds subjected to the type of administration that you describe sends chills up my spine and makes me angry at the very same time (I didn't even know that was possible)!!! I'm going to pass this post along to my fellow Idahoans in the hopes that they too will vote for teachers! Thanks for being a teacher and thanks for making a difference!

Dear Mary Ann, My heart ached as I read your latest post. It ached for you, for the children in your class and for the one with all the problems. On the other hand, it certainly seems that the district and the principal, etc are incompetent and certainly in over their heads. So many people are needlessly suffering when something could and should be done to change the whole situation.

I don't know if you believe in prayer, but I do (at least most of the time) and I am going to pray for you and ask my friends to join me. We will pray for your strength and courage, your wisdom and patience, for protection for all in your classroom and for the one who has such severe problems, that he will find peace and calm.

From such a distance that is all I can do, and even if I were next door I might not be able to do any more than that. You have many people holding good thoughts for you, beaming them your way. I hope that you feel them.

I wish your principal wasn't telling you the truth about the police but she is. The police won't consider dealing with elementary students. I have tried. I call the police anyway because at the very least there is a record that I've done something. When the kid has a meltdown next time call the PET team, a County sponsored psychological evaluation team. Your APEIS or your school Psychologist should have the number.

I feel bad for the disruptive student. I'm sure there is a sad story there. The system isn't serving them or the other students. Tragic. As is that letter written by someone allowed to teach-lack of language skills and the handwriting of a sociopath. Yikes. That explains why kids enter the workforce lacking basic skills.

Hi M.A. Whoa - like the others I am speechless, shocked and v.v. disturbed. I have no experience with teaching, or indeed children as I never had kids, but my initial reaction was yeah, this kid needs cognitive therapy to his behind, retroactive to age 2. Sorry. But this is to me an example of the breakdown of our entire society - could get on my soapbox about that but will spare you my spleen-venting. This is how the Columbine and other massacres must incubate, no? Wish I had an answer but truly believe this is a systemic crisis that runs very very deep and a massive problem - and think we'd better wake up to it. I am sure that love is the answer, but... I am worried for you now Mary Ann. I hope it is time for you to be seriously cooking up Cunning Master Plan B: Get your ultra-creative self out of teaching, sistah. You have other things to offer, mega. xxoo

Liz in Oregon

Yikes! Oh, dear MA, how unfortunate for you and for the other children in your classroom. Such a sad way to treat all the children as this disruptive child needs special help and is not getting it. And yada yada yada....you know all this already. I am sorry. You deserve kudos.

Whoa, I really don't know what to say to all this, except that I wish you the best of luck and hope there is some solution in the end. This must be so frustrating and totally wear you down, especially when there's no direct ending in sight. Sending you strength.

There is no education possible in that environment. No teacher should have to contend with that outrageous behavior, regardless if its cause. Broken educational system without a doubt and a great shame that a brave educator such as yourself can't be allowed to simply teach but instead has to battle the results of an inept school administration.

Hoping the best for you.

Thankfully, both of my children have now graduated and are in college. However, when my youngest was a junior in high school she had one of those students in one of her classes. It was a nightmare. One afternoon she actually pulled her pants down and urinated in the classroom trashcan. Yep. Daily she yelled at the teacher and students, she made threats, she refused to do work, she spoke every vile word ever invented..etc. You get the idea. She was removed from the class on a number of occasions, but always was allowed to come back.
My daughter has some learning difficulties herself, and a lot of anxiety issues, so I'm sure you can imagine the impact this child had on her learning experience in that class.
I do not understand why there is not a better system to separate, but support these children. I really wish the "flock" had better support and did not have to deal with the things that they do in public school. I would have loved to have been able to send my children to private school.
Best of luck to you!
Cerri

Mary Ann...better things are ahead for you, I just know it. Hugs.

Incredibly disturbing scenario, for you and for the other children. The response of your administration tells me you've no sane response but to get out of there, and what a loss that will be for the rest of the class and your sad dysfunctional district. So sorry! Sharron

wow- I think you have rights as a teacher too. If we are suppose to make all kids in a classroom feel comfortable and safe and then we are suppose to be comfortable and safe. I don't think your school administrators are doing their job. Maybe you should threaten to sue the district so they will hire some poor person to be a one on on aid to this student. Not that I believe in suing people, but this it totally unacceptable working conditions. I can't believe you can back into that room every day. And you're right, what about those poor kids who have to watch this and what do they learn from watching this?
Take a BIG breath every morning and then after school go have a margarita-but I know, this doesn't really fix anything.

Mary Ann...I am so sorry you have to deal with this. I'm also sorry for the child--but of course he should be in a special needs classroom. I think I would INSIST that you have someone sit in your classroom and monitor the situation. Or videotape (you would probably need the parents' permission to do so) the class so you can show the parents the evidence. Then appeal to their better nature (?) to transfer the child to a school where he can get the help he needs. I have no idea if this is feasible.
Eventually the parents of the other students my rise up and protest--

Sharon

Wow dude... That is heavy. It's a general known fact I think that teachers get too much crap these days. When I read stories like the one above, I wonder. I ask myself if kids have changed that much or whether the world has changed. I strongly believe that rules, boundaries and limitations towards kids have gone down the drain, and that partly might have as end result kids who are not ready to go into the world. Kids like the above with that kind of behaviour do indeed not fit in mainstream schools.
I wonder if the amount of troubled kids will grow and where it will all end. The big question is of course if teachers in mainstream schools do need to tackle such out of wack behaviour.
It's of course hard to see whether that kid has mental problems (which would be my first guess) or whether he gets messages at home that such behaviour is allowed. Does the kid have a stabile home environment where he or she is taught respect for others. If he or she lives in an environment where abuse is daily stuff, it's rather easy to see the link with behaviour in school and other places.
I am not saying that problem kids are the parents "fault" - but I have serious questions when I see some of the parents these days.
It seems to become more and more obvious that people are in a funk, with mental issues rising in a very scary manner. And in some cases lead to children getting a label of mental while they are in fact not taught manners at home, and essential basic communication rules. I wonder if we should not change the teaching plans, and instead of teaching our kids history and geography we should not teach them to be respectful for the other. How can we teach our kids if we are not able to contain them and make them sit still...
I feel sad for you Maryann, your job description probably does not hold treat kids with severe problems. It's a very real and complex problem, and I feel for all those teachers who are more often then not at the short end of the stick. I can see why teachers are drained to the core. It's hard... Teachers seem to become more and more the punch ball, and that is not right. It's so sad that schools have become places where you feel unsafe...

And on second reading of the letter of your sub teacher, I am going nuts. That person can not write decent english (I am flemish and dare say that my english is better then that)... He/she makes serious mistakes (their-there) and is not at all ready to teach... Scary, scary... Who will follow up on the good teachers we are having now... Something is wrong in our world... And how to change it?????

Wow...Iam in shock. My daughter is currently student teaching. I am now afraid for her safety if this is in her future. She comes home with stories ever night...she even has a hisser...but nothing so disturbing. Please tell me this is the extreme. My biggest concern is for the other children in you class who are following normal decorum. Prayers for you Miss M!

This was really hard to read. Not necessarily because there are children with these types of behavioral disorders, although that is sad in and of itself, but because you and the other children in this classroom are not being PROTECTED. SUPPORTED. Speak nothing of the fact that the child with "severe emotional problems" is not receiving the proper help he/she needs. I am a former teacher with a dbl major in SpecEd/ElemEd and left the profession long ago. My decision to leave had little to do with the children but everything to do with the crazies of the adults who ran the places. Your story is a classic example of the crazies of the adults in charge. Beyond the emotional toll it takes on the classroom teacher, it also deprives the rest of the children of their rights. One disruptive child in a classroom can severely impact the quality of education the rest of the children receive. In a perfect world, the parents of the rest of the flock should be up in arms DEMANDING that this child, and any other disruptive children be removed and properly placed within the system. Your story illustrates why many great teachers have chosen to leave the profession. I just pray that it doesn't take something awful to happen before the administration acts properly on behalf of you and the other children. I'm so sorry that you are having to live in this madness.

Wowza!!! Where are the parents (or adults responsible for this child) in this situation? Guess the days of teaching your children discipline, proper behavior, and respect for adults are over. I feel so bad that the children who know how to behave and want to learn are subjected to this situation. If I were a parent of those children, I would be furious and demanding to see the principal. And of course, I can't believe you are just supposed to sit there and take this horrible nonsense. Sending good vibes your way and will keep you and the children in your class (including the problems) in my prayers.

In the years I spent teaching in the LA area(as a substitute and a full time teacher) this was the order of the day most of the time. And we're talking almost 40 years ago. I loved most of the kids, they were great and as a music teacher it was wonderful to see them have such joy learning to play their instruments. But the problems children and the administration's inability to offer any kind of help worn me down. I finally quit, moved up here to SLO county and other than some private music instruction I never taught again. I was lucky 20 years ago and found my job at the library - we deal with problem people now and then and I have had my life threatened, but we do have the ability (after a paper trail) to get people banned. At Open Studios and gallery shows I often have people ask me if I teach classes. I always tell them that working 40 hours a week I wouldn't have time to do my art if I taught as well. But in my heart I wonder if just the thought of "teaching" in any form brings back the nightmare experience I went through. You have all my empathy and long distance support. Hang in there.
Erin in Morro Bay

I must reiterate what one of your other readers said - I wish you strength and patience and SHARP INSTINCTS. Keep your wits about you, Ms. Moss.
Sending all good thoughts your way.

This student needs a special ed aide who will help to deal with his behavior and assist you in the classroom.

Mary Ann, right now today, at this moment i pray that God will fill your classroom with the power of His Holy Spirit and that He will bring peace and rest to your soul and to ALL of your children. i pray that peace will descend like a blanket and everyone will physically feel the power of God. that fear will disappear so quickly it will leave you breathless, like a strong wind blowing through your room and out the window.
when no one else cares, He always does and is there for you. He is there with you every moment, in this very moment. in the midst of the terror, silently in your heart, ask for His guidance.
no one is stronger then the person who asks God for help.
what you think/feel/believe about God doesn't matter. do not let anything (in your mind or in the physical) get in your way of getting the help you need right now.
i wanted to pray that God would send someone to help you, a person who had the power to change things but when i started praying, i knew that God had more immediate plans to help you. the kind of right now, this very moment help. it is yours. just reach out and take it. xoxoox julie

The situation you depict is very troubling. Unfortunately, I've heard many stories from parents, teachers and sports coaches. Administrative policies, parenting practices, changing societal standards and attitudes, powder-keg individuals ready to blow (for whatever physical, mental or situational reasons) and on and on - all can be part of the complex mix. We're often pulled between knowing that "hurting people hurt" and trying to imagine what any of us can do. I feel sad for you and your students, including the ones who are out on the end of a limb that's very likely to break one day. But I'm always encouraged by your bright and creative spirit!

...a nightmare, for sure. I am so very sorry you have to deal with this. You are a beacon of light for so many people who look forward to sharing your travels and creative life. It breaks my heart you have to deal with this. Hang in there.

I am blown away here with so much commentary as I imagine you are Mary Ann. But I just have to put my two cents in. First of all I cannot understand the criticisms placed on your sub as this was a personal note to you, probably written while under great stress and not intended as a great literary masterpiece! Besides NOT anything to do with the story you are telling us! And this story should be heard! Send the whole blog to your Attorney General and state reps! To the White House and State Teachers Unions, PTA's and City Councils. I will share on FB with a message for others to share if ok with you! By the way we have an election coming up that WILL make a difference for teachers everywhere! xo
PS - my apologies in advance if I did not use proper grammer!

once upon a long time ago i was a social worker with abandoned and neglected children many exhibited this behavior in school. Contact with their parents immediately revealed the source of their problems. Good luck.

Oh. My. Mary Ann, I wish I could whisk you away from that horrible situation and give you a flock of sweet little creative types, who would get their work done, quickly and correctly, so they could earn extra time to work on their art journals...........

"unfortunately public schools seem to go overboard in protecting the rights of the (problematic) individual instead of tending to the greater FLOCK. the protection goes towards the one who is violating the rights of all others. so the flock is not really & truly entitled to a safe environment to work and play and learn."

Having experienced this, myself, as a parent, I will say that "unfortunate" is the understatement of the decade........

Where have we gotten ourselves to, that we can't identify someone who is completely disrupting life for a whole classroom of people, and move them out?

My daughter's experience of first grade wasn't as extreme as you describe, but there were multiple kids who disrupted the class, incessantly, all day long. The group were widely regarded in our school district as "the first grade from hell."

When that group of kids went on to second grade, the number of kids had dropped by half. Five kids tested to be skipped ahead a grade (and were all granted permission to do so). Families moved so that their kids would attend other schools, and at least one family moved right out of town.

The school district did not address the issues, so the parents had to do it. "Broken" is a very mild description, in my humble.................

The worst of the kids with behavior issues were from situations where the putative adults could barely manage to function, I think. No way engaging those individuals was going to help. One of my friends, a social worker, commented that only a "life-ectomy" would be enough to help those kids. As long as they stayed in their outside-of-school environment, no intervention at school was going to "fix" their issues......

I agree with everyone who recommends filing a police report (or two -- one for you and one for the sub!). The police may not do anything, but at least it will be documented for the future when the law is actually willing to step in and DO something about this individual.

Protecting the rights/privileges of individuals is important, but when the rights/privileges of one individual impact those of another........ And when those of one individual impact those of a whole bunch of others, it's time for the system to step in and say "No, you will not be allowed to behave that way."

Easy to say, hard to make happen.

We're all thinking about you, Mary Ann, as you navigate an impossible set of expectations.........

Yes, please file a report with the teacher's union and the police. This kind of atmosphere in a classroom is toxic for everyone. What I have always found if you don't get the help at the first level of authority, keep going up the chain of command. Yes, document it all but don't take no for an answer. If you can video these incidents, so much the better (probably against the school rules I'm sure). Nothing like a video to show the total terror of two teachers trying to restrain this child. I will pray for all to be healed in this situation.
Aloha, Kate

I was so shocked by your post!!! I don't have kids and don't know anything about public schools. Unbelievable, shocking!
God bless you & keep you safe Mary Ann!! You are in my thoughts & prayers. Hope you find a safer place to work soon!!

In the school district I live in you even threaten to hit a teacher you get suspended, if you hit the teacher they call the police, your parents, and start the process to expel you from school. Any type of violence from a student, parent, or in some cases teachers is in no way acceptable; I hope the teacher's union can help you get this situation taken care of for your own safety and that of the students in your class.

This is really too bad. I have to wonder about that child's home life. Is it so bad that your prize drawing is all he ever has to look forward to? And then, perhaps when it didn't materialize, he couldn't handle the disappointment. Since he won't be removed from the class, maybe it would help to single him out to help you with little things around the classroom; make him feel like he's worthwhile to someone and perhaps reward him for his help, even if it's just verbal praise. Clearly he needs extra attention, but it doesn't sound like it's going to happen outside your classroom anytime soon. It's very likely that he never or almost never gets positive feedback from anyone, given his behavior; there's no way anyone would want to befriend him and imagine what his life must be like if his parents only criticize or never offer kind words.

I hope things get better for you. Do you need any references for your application to another school? I imagine there are probably at least a couple hundred of us who would be happy to provide one! :)

Mary Ann: Thanks for giving voice to your frustration - sadly, I know this is the experience of many teachers. I send you, your class of cute little monkies, and these problems students love, light and healing.

Mary Ann I wish that I could say or do something to help in this challenging situation. I can only send you a big fat hug from NZ and hope that my message and all the other words of support from around the world bolster you to keep you safe/ Sometimes life gives us too many bl**dy lemons!! xx Michelle

Sending hugs from Canada! (where kids with this type of behavior are not allowed in the classrooms! Thankfully!)

Such a disheartening situation! I know you will keep on doing everything in your power to cope, including finding a better situation.

omg, I wondered why you had been quiet for a day or so...My heart goes out to you Mary Ann. Everyone else has said more than I could but I think of the unexpected consequences of the 'inclusion' legislation. I had a special needs child but NOTHING on this level, and worked as hard as I could to get her the right educational placement. My ex never wanted her classed as special needs...lest she want a security clearance some day! The fact that she is still alive at 39 is a miracle.

I hope your new school placement happens sooner rather than later, and doesn't take a major incident to start the transition. A life ahead on disability is not worth any job.

My goodness, Mary Ann, I'm so sorry. I don't know if you're allowed to do this, or if you'd want to do this, but my older brother (who has ADD) was very disruptive- never violent, though- and my Mom recalls how she used to go and sit next to him ALL DAY long to get him to behave. It was embarrassing enough for him to have his Mommy accompany him at school that he changed his behavior for good. I know an ADD child is not the same as what you described. But maybe inviting his Mom or Dad to sit with him for a couple days would help. Good luck. I long for the day that our government will reprioritize and pay teachers what you truly deserve.

You are such a wonderful caring teacher and I'm so happy that you are going on your trip, allowing us to go along and have time to change your environment. I think of you as a friend although we will probably never meet. I'm so sorry for you and every teacher in every classroom that has such responsibility, joy and heartache. Go forth and create my friend!

Having been in the classroom for 37 years, I totally understand your total frustration. In my school system, this child would not still be in your classroom. The union would definitely help me in this type of situation as our contract states that we cannot be subject to battery, etc. by a student. I really don't understand your school and its' "rules"! I hope something changes for the better. You should not be in this type of situation where anyday, this student can go off on you. Let him hurt another student and then what happens??? I really do hope you can transfer out next year. Good luck.

What a terrible situation for everyone. The child sounds as though he/she has a brain injury and a refusal to honestly examine that possibility probably means that the child will suffer and cause suffering to others until he/she commits a crime. What a terrible waste. I'm hoping your transfer comes through and that some decision maker will realize that this child needs medical attention.

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