i just got home from probably the worst day i’ve had so far as a teach for america teacher, which is weird, because the first half of the day was AWESOME (we know P! we love the P song! we can say /p/ and no one mixes it up! we love our literacy alphabet song! we love our new iPad! we love literacy! we’re learning to read!) but the second half was just atrocious. and it was all because of one little friend who just couldn’t keep it together.
i’ve mentioned him before on this blog. little z, bless his heart. he’s actually had a pretty good week. yesterday and the day before i got to tell his mom, for the first time, that he had great behavior, got to go to centers (and even got to pick first and go to computer one day). today, i’m not sure what was going on, but it was the worst behavior i’ve ever seen in my LIFE, at least from a child under my own watch. stomping, kicking/punching the walls, refusing to sit in time out, throwing rocks, throwing backpacks and jackets, turning over chairs, climbing a fence and almost falling, biting me while i tried to hold him in my lap and calm him down and actually HITTING ME IN THE FACE, and so on and so forth until i just about had a melt down myself. the really weird part was that he wasn’t even in trouble. usually, his behavior gets out of control only after he’s been disciplined for some inappropriate behavior. but today, we were all kind in trouble for misbehaving at lunch and failing to create and execute an adequate line in the hallway. including z, we were all putting our heads down for 3 minutes of recess for wasting my para’s time in the hallway right outside the office. not really a big deal, and when i take minutes away at the beginning of recess i usually add them at the end, which they don’t notice/care about, just to make sure they’ve gotten good psychomotor and gross motor for the day. anyway, z wasn’t in any particular trouble but something really set him off. usually, once he’s had his tantrum, we can usually come back from it together (with him doing his time out, explaining to me why he was in time out, apologizing for his behavior, us hugging, and him being permitted to go to whatever activity he’s missing) but today we would go through his process, he’d apologize, and then go back to whatever horrible thing he was doing, or something worse.
but it got really out of control after school, which was when his physical abuse of me started. this is new from him. i haven’t had a child do this yet, and while it doesn’t really “hurt” since he’s 4 (except the biting. that does hurt.) it’s pretty psychologically traumatizing. i tried everything i could think of with him today. ignoring him, positive behavior narration of other students, showing him something on my ipad/distracting him, asking him what was wrong, taking him on a walk, sending him to a buddy teacher, telling him he was hurting my feelings… eventually, i yelled in his face. no, i screamed in his face. like, a REAL scream. this is when he started “crying” (fake, but loud) hysterically. i screamed, “I’M GLAD YOU’RE CRYING! I WOULD BE CRYING TOO! ALL DAY YOU’VE BEEN LIKE THIS!” should i be ashamed of myself? i don’t know. i guess i should be. that’s prob not “transformative teaching” but i’d pay money to see the people from the behavior management cycle videos we watched at institute come deal with this child. every adult within hearing distance tried to help restrain him–the K teachers, paras, the other pre-k teacher, a couple of parents, the office staff, etc. i almost went to go get one of the police officer, but then i remembered how horrified i was when i heard a parent threaten to call the police on her 4-year-0ld student.
his mother was 45 minutes late picking him and his (K) sister up today, and i stayed with him the whole time so i could give her a report on his behavior. i am an honest person, and i told her the truth. unlike usual, i didn’t sugarcoat it by telling her how smart and brilliant and good at listening he is (he is, which is probably the saddest part of this child’s situation). i just told her it was the worst behavior i had ever seen, that i spent my entire day focusing on him at the detriment of his classmates, that it wasn’t normal behavior and that i was sorry to say it to her but that he was out of control and that every adult who crossed his path today would attest to it. i also told her he was no longer welcome on the field trip to the pumpkin patch that’s coming up unless she could come with him because his tantrums are so extreme. i had tears in my eyes while i talked to her and she looked just as sad and frustrated as i am. it’s so sad, because for the past two days when he’s been so good, i’ve complimented his behavior and he’s asked, “will you tell my mommy i’m being good?” i know he cares. at least, on some days, he cares. but today… wow. just, wow.
i am reluctant using this blog as a place to vent, but i know other teachers who have children similar to Z will understand. as i said to the K teacher (also a CM and my friend) after school, when he finally left, this is not the meaningful career i’d envisioned for myself. restraining one child from physically attacking me and being subject to his vitriol and, excuse me, bull shit, all day long, is not my idea of a productive way to spend my time.