I am now teaching 7th and 8th grade Resource Math. This is considered part of Special Education, though none of my students have IQ's below 70. Some of them are very low, but they can function reasonably well. Their regular teacher is out on medical leave. I was asked to take the class over to prepare them for the State mandated math tests coming up in about 6 weeks.
To be enrolled in Resource Math a student must be significantly below grade level in math skills. This happens several ways.
"Emotionally Disturbed" label is given to kids who do not act appropriately in a classroom setting. Acting like a middle schooler will not get you labeled this way. The sort of behavior that it does cover includes:
1. ADD or ADHD. I had one of my kids throw this at me as an explanation for his poor performance. I told him that wasn't going to work with me. I am ADD and my family will readily vouch for it. I have to work at sticking with one task. Otherwise, I will go many different directions at the same time and never finish anything. I told him that everyone has a cross to bear and that it was his responsibility to carry his successfully. I added that I wasn't going to do his work and that I would ride his little fanny to make sure he did his on time. (Remarkably, he is now doing his work.)
2. Autistic. This is a tough one for any kid. There's no faking this. Autistic kids tend to zone out. It is very tough for them to be a part of the world that surrounds them. The one kid I am dealing with now is doing much better. I taught him for 5 weeks last semester. Most of the time he was non-functioning in the classroom. He is doing much better now. He knows me and responds to my directions. I suspect that he feels "safe" with me. Even so, he comes across as very "dull" or emotionally flat.
3. Spoiled rotten brat. This is not an official educational designation. I have some kids who are so spoiled that they have mastered what teachers call "learned helplessness." The translation: If I am helpless enough, someone else will do everything for me. I have both black and white kids with this problem. Almost all of them are fatherless, only children. Momma and Grandma have doted on them so much that they won't/can't work. Many of these kids are horribly overweight. A very common attribute of these kids is falling asleep in class. Sadly, they are so overweight that they simply sit back and doze....or at least try to. Their reaction to anything that makes them uncomfortable is sleep. I suspect that they are also clinically depressed.
4. Anti-social thug want-to-bes: Almost always male students. In fact, I can't think of any thug girls. They talk about violence, especially violence toward women. They are totally detatched from reality as to their goals. One kid is sure he will be in the NFL. They are going to get rich selling drugs, being gangstas or "players." They take up a great deal of classroom time because they are unruly.
5. Party girls: They won't work in the classroom and like to hang out with the thugs-to-be. They won't stop talking.
6. Predators: I have one boy who specializes in hooking up with illegal immigrant girls. He hangs out with....
7. Party goys: these guys don't take any of school seriously. They are are children at play all the time.
I enjoy my work. I am a taskmaster. The children complain that I am strict. The female teachers tell me that most of these kids have never had a strong positive male influence in their life and that they don't know how to control me. I work their asses off. I don't accept incomplete work. If a student is a disruption, I march his ass to the principal who assigns additional onerous punishment. The female teachers love me, and it darn sure isn't for my looks.
As an aside, I recently polled nearly 100 non special ed middle school kids on a variety of subjects. The findings:
1. Less than 1/4th have read a non-school book this year.
2. The boys read sports mags and the girls read fashion and gossip mags. Black kids read Ebony.
3. Almost all have cable tv in their rooms and internet access at home.
4. Practically zero of them read a newspaper.
5. They get their news from Channel One and CNN.
6. Less than 10 percent have chores but more than half get allowances.
7. Less than 1/3 are in any youth group outside of school. Those that are are mostly in church youth groups.
8. Homework is mostly a thing of the past.
9. Very few of them go to bed before 11 and many are up past 12 regularly.
10. Many of them are or have been sexually active.
My poll group was mostly 12-14 year olds.
My kid is 8 and in second grade and he hs 4 nights of homeowrk a week. 30 minutes of required reading everyday, but no where near enough math (I am gonna fix THAT).
There is very little incentive to give these kids homework and quite a bit of disincentive.
1. There is very little consequence to not doing homework. Most of these kids don't care about grades and Lunch Dentention simply puts them in a room with their friends.
2. Teachers are under great pressure to prepare their kids for the state tests. Given a choice between constant drilling for the tests and being homework cop, the teacher is going to choose classroom repetition. State test scores trump all other measurements.
3. For most of these kids there is little if any parental support. Again, very few have strong father figures in their lives.
I neglected to give you some demographics. 80 percent of my kids are poor black or hispanic. The white kids are lower middle class at best.
This country is in deep shit.
The youth take over folks.
The poll results are true and shocking.
Can't blame the kids, its the shitty parenting.
I blame MTV/ rap music for #4
Hip hop culture is a cancer.
Charles Barkely has a couple good points in his new book
about Katrina victims.
This criteria describes one of my neighbor's kids perfectly, especially the 'Spoiled brat' part. This kid was raised by two seemingly normal parents who have done and given him everything.
As a child his parents made excuses for his misbehavior, by saying he is ADHD, he may very well be but the fact that they spoil him rotten and enforce NO discipine what so ever is probably more the reason for his behavior.
I could write a book on the exploits of this little scumbag, but my main purpose in posting is to thank you for the work you do, I would never have the patients to do this job. I also aplaud the fact that you don't let them make excuses for their bullshit. Hopefully you will be able to help one or two along the way, unfortunately I suspect many if not most will get out of life exactly what they have put into it, which as you know is absolutely nothing........
Thank you for the kind words.
One of my students is a 16-year-old 8th grader. She told me that she had a child that she gave up for adoption. She is a slightly built white girl....a sort of goatroper girl. How she was able to produce a child out of that tiny frame is beyond me. I don't doubt her.
Drugs is a real problem with these kids, as is alcohol abuse. Right now, we are having quite a problem with weed among the 7th graders. The drug sniffing dog is in the building nearly every week.
Fortunately, there is little loyalty with these people. One of my girls brought grass to school in her purse. Two other girls ratted her out to me. She will be at the alternative campus for the rest of the year.
I have also taught at the Alternative School. When I took over the class, I had several girls come up to me and ask me if I remembered them from there. I told them that I did and that I wanted them to stay out of trouble so I could see them in the regular classrooms.
Like I said, I enjoy my work. I have never had so much fun being a man in my life. As a white-haired 50-year-old, suit-wearing authoritarian, I tell me kids what is real and what isn't real and that it is entirely up to them to have a good life.
I tell them that every morning I promise God that I will teach my kids to the best of my ability and that I won't let any individual student stand in my way. I am often asked if I am a preacher, a lawyer, a judge for a former principal.
I do not get informal with my kids. I keep up a wall of adulthood. I do not want to be their friends, but I would lay my life down for them.
I live in a small town of about 35K. The teachers I work with are highly dedicated and love their kids. They find the educational bureaucracy to be crushing and most of the time silly. You can't imagine the reports. But we do our job.
A band director was fired this week. He went profane in a moment of anger. The kids possibly deserved it, but once they know they can set you off, you're done for. I wish him luck. I hate to think what would happen if I had to control 75 kids at a time.
Good work. You're a friend to Gen. Ed. teachers like myself who have inclusion students in the room. It's nice that you have a supportive administrator. Let's hope he/she doesn't come to you with that "Let's talk about all these office referrals" chat.
You are incredibly lucky to have a principal who supports his or her teachers. Having been in a school where kids sent to the AP's or principal's office were returned to class fortified with candy and bearing my disruptive behavior discipline referral that states my request for detention or ISS is denied, I found southern Bagdad to be less stressful than where I was teaching.
My hat is off to you for what you are doing, and my hat is off to your principal for what he or she is doing. Given the right support, it's amazing what both students and teachers can accomplish.
At least yours would talk to you. Mine wrote "punishment denied...call parents again" on the referral, and let the student bring it back to me. Ain't that some shit.