Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Knee Deep in Chaos

I suppose I must be seeing other children. I am certainly turning up to the classes. I think I'm teaching some of them. My brain however, is totally on...let's call him Slugger! I'm sorry but you have to laugh, otherwise you'd cry...

The day of the observation by 'The Funding Authority' saw Slugger giving a sensational performance. He shouted at everyone, ran up and down the corridor, crash tackled the teacher and eventually had to be taken home by his mother. We got the funding.

The following day he doesn't usually come in so we had a reprieve. The next day he had a headache and so it wasn't until Friday that we got him back. I sauntered down to the classroom mid morning to see how it was going and found his Minder sitting on a chair near the door. He seemed to be sitting in the midst of an up-turned box of toys.
"So, how's it going Minder?" I enquired cheerfully. He turned a long suffering face towards me and replied," He's in the corridor behind you...."

In one of those scenes from a movie, I withdrew my head from the classroom and looked up and down the corridor.
"Errrrrrrrrrrrrr, no, I'm afraid he's not...."

Therein ensued a mild panic until Minder located him, downstairs, playing nicely in the sandpit.

I stood upstairs watching out of a window as he busily dug and built sandcastles. His Minder stood under the shade of the verandah nearby and nothing seemed to intrude on his little world.

What do you do with that?

What do you do with a 5 year old who has his own agenda and will give no quarter in its following. He was as happy as a sandboy (pardon the pun) in that sandpit.

I watched him for a while and noticed that he began to look around. Finding his Minder unresponsive (we have agreed not to make the 'out of the classroom' time too much 'fun') and seeing a year 12 student studying in the sunshine nearby, he started digging in a more and more aggressive manner, turfing the spadefuls of sand over his shoulder in a spectacular arc. I watched to see if it was a one off and whether he would stop but the arcs kept coming and their dimensions were growing. Finding my Flaming Sword suddenly in my hand (I think it is related to the Sword of Gryffindor ie it appears when it is needed) I marched downstairs and silently but purposefully took the spade and bucket away from him.
"HEY!" he bellowed, in his gravelly little voice," GIVE ME THAT BACK."
I stood my ground and eyeballed him.
"No, I'm not giving it back to you, because you weren't playing with it properly. You don't throw the sand out of the sandpit like that." As I strode away I heard him start to wail and felt the handfuls of sand he was pitching at me, brush the back of my shirt. I made my way over to his Minder under the verandah and consulted with him.
"I'm not putting up with that," I said, "that was quite deliberate."
His Minder looked uncertain. The howls of anger echoed around the playground as Slugger lay prostrate in the sandpit drumming his feet and hands.

We continued to talk quietly about our next move, all the while watching him out of the corner of our eyes. He quieted. He sat up and looked across at me accusingly. I glanced back.
"STOP LOOKING AT ME!" he bellowed.
"Stop looking at ME." I retorted, somewhat peevishly.
He sat for a little longer and then got up and walked to the box of sand toys, giving the Minder and I a large berth as he did so. He helped himself to another bucket and spade and made his way back to the sandpit, watching all the time to see how we would react.
"Let's just see what he does," I suggested.
He climbed into the sand pit and began digging again. Sensibly. Occasionally he looked up and glowered at me. I flicked him the thumb up sign.

After awhile I wandered over, ostensibly to speak to the Year 12 studying nearby. He glanced up at me again and I smiled at him.
"Well, done, you're playing really nicely now."
A brief shadow passed over his face and then....he smiled at me.

The Minder and I decided that after his 'very bad day' with the observer from the Funding Authority, we would let him have a chill out day where he could do a few calming things and get himself back on an even keel. The danger of course was that he would think this was the norm and this has proved to be a real fear. On Monday he spent most of the day taking his Minder on walks around the school. He fronted up in my room more than once and nagged the Minder into playing football with him on the tennis courts. No work was done.

On Tuesday, it was more of the same, culminating in an outburst where he thumped another child quite soundly and had to be sent home. Tonight I am writing 'social stories' about the consequences of thumping someone and ways in which we can resolve conflict without punching someone.

Wish us luck....


Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to you.I well remember dealing with one particular "difficult boy"rising five with no behavioural lable, who,on arrival, could turn the whole nursery environment into a shambles by running down the entire area sending everything on tables onto the floor, as well as kicking floor constructions apart as he went!.The resulting chaos reverberated with children crying children crying "Look what he`s done!"Staff would call for me to remove him. After trying, and eventually succeeding to,as well as distracting and calming him I felt like a wet rag!! This child however was simply wanting attention and eventually learned to fit in,unlike children with serious disorders.My heart goes out to the teachers and carers of those children. They need such a great deal of patience, skill,knowledge,understanding and expertise in helping them .Well done to you and your team.

Stacy said...

That sounds very hard. I wish you luck and patience in finding a way to get him to start learning.