Monday, May 26, 2008

Holy Hell.

I got this via Squid. A special needs boy is voted out of his kindergarten class by his peers...initiated by the teacher.

Oh my God...this is horrifying. I can't conceive of the kind of person who would do this to ANYONE, let alone a child... (I don't watch Survivor or any of those reality shows for this reason.) I make it my goal all the time in my class to ensure everyone is included. To deliberately segregate a child (NOT GROUNDS FOR EMOTIONAL ABUSE??????) via his classmates? Unbelievable. This woman should lose her teaching license. That is not ok.

I would like to meet the two children who voted against voting him out of the classroom. I'd like to think that I was that kind of kid. My mom told me once that I'd picked a very unpopular, seriously learning disabled, probably austistic/otherwise special needs boy to ride in our car for a field trip. When I was asked why by my mom, I apparently replied, "Because I knew no one else would pick him."

ETA: I am so sad and angry right now, for Alex Barton, his family and the rest of the kids in that class. I've been reading some other blog posts and news stories about this, and what strikes me is how so many people remember being horrible to another child, as children, and how they still bear emotional scars from that.


Beethoven said...

Ok, I just read the story, and yes, this is sick. BUT. Asperger's or no, how do you handle a young, energetic student with disciplinary issues? I don't get the feeling this was only a popularity contest but also collective action (poorly channeled) by kids and a teacher fed up with his behaviour. I fully support the mother pursuing legal action, and I don't think criminal charges are warranted. The teacher who sparked this, however, needs a serious paddlin'.

The Teacher said...

There's lots of different ways to work with students who have extra need for attention (will use "him" for ease of communication). I'm not sure what the teacher did before this incident, what worked, what didn't etc., or what Alex's behaviours look like, but here are some ideas.

-allow the student to work at his own pace
-give him his own a private "office" area.
-loads of positive reinforcement.
-ignoring the behaviour.
-charts and stickers.
-make him the helper to get him to move around if needed.

Yeah, it's tough, yeah it's frustrating, but the way this was handled was just terrible. I've gotta say though...sometimes the sheer frustration can get to people and cause them/us to say or do things that are later regretted. There but by the grace, man. It makes me wonder if I could do something like this sometime, or hurt a kid emotionally by doing something thoughtless. :(

Beethoven said...

Hey, I feel for you and all the teachers who have to put up with varying degrees of difficulty from rugrats today - I mean, Kobayashi Maru! It's hard to make a good judgment call when you're in that kind of pickle. Considering I want to ship the kid upstairs to Siberia (uninsulated ceiling means we hear his stupid, incessant fire truck siren all $#@%@ day) I can definitely agree with there but for the grace. So, other than the private lawsuit, which should be a quick settlement, what should happen to the teacher here? Are learning disabilities/difficulties really so common? Should teachers be expected to be special needs experts so that Adam Asperger can be socialised normally, or do we need to return to special needs segregation? What takes supremacy, a stable learning environment for the other kids or an enriched, specially adjusted learning/social environment for one or two kids?

(Hey, someone's gotta cause a stir.)


The Teacher said...

I had to take classes on special needs. Part of being a teacher is dealing with balancing the special environment, with allowing the other children to learn.

I'm not saying she's not allowed to be frustrated. I'm saying that her way of dealing with the situation was totally innappropriate and will likely have long-lasting consequences for the kids in her class, in addition to Alex. Plus, the future teachers of this student will have more trouble helping him because now he's scared of school.

I think she should lose her license. It wasn't a question of losing the temper for a second and saying something terrible, or even losing the temper and (gods forbid) hitting him (I'm not saying that those things aren't bad...because they are.). This was a deliberate attack, which she had time to think about at several points, but CHOSE to continue. That's where I see the difference.

The Teacher said...

Also, yes, they are that common. We're going to have 4 grade 4/5 splits next year to separate all the behaviour/LD kids. There's laws saying that only a certain number of diagnoses are allowed per classroom.