This caped teacher does not know the strength of her powers. Earlier this week I said this:
“Our kids this year are not your typical punk kids. We have many fewer gun-totin’, teacher-hitting, drug-using turkey-butts than in the past. This year our kids border on sweet (key word–border), just don’t fit in, and just… need.”
I should not have taunted karma in this way.
Yesterday, one of those bordering-on-sweet-needy kids lost it. She lit out on another student, shoving a staff person on her way, and repeatedly kicked and punched him (the kid, not the staff person). She wouldn’t stop. Screaming, swearing, dodging furniture as he tried to get away (and the teacher tried to help him get away). He got up and ran down the hall to the office and she followed him. In the end, she had injured four other staff members and was in the back of a police car kicking and screaming.
Oh. My. Goodness. She just… lost it. All we know is this…
- The child she went after had been almost hit by another student the day prior for being… irritating.
- The child she went after can, indeed, be irritating.
- She has had similar issues in the past. It appears this happens when she hasn’t taken her medication. There is no way to determine this though. The parent does not share this information.
What I can guess is…
- The teacher was out of the room for a minute, and the two other staff in charge are more quiet-voiced and less assertive when it started. This may have allowed the other child to be more irritating, but that is just a guess.
- She has trouble moderating her moods (statement of the obvious, I know) and her social skills are still at the chasing-boys-at-recess level. That day she had some big emotions (fear and relief) related to a classroom project she was working on, and that may have put her off-kilter.
- The other student has a remarkable propensity to bother other people. We had been working almost constantly with him to curb that. Even with a staff member right next to him all day he was poking, kicking chairs, stealing pencils, etc. I had to stop and count to five several times working with him. He could test the patience of a stone statue.
So. The lessons today? Do not tempt fate by making sweeping statements about the sweetness of your little poodle-heads. Apparently karma has a wicked sense of humor.
Next lesson, while it is true that physically restraining kids only leads to escalating the behavior, there are times when the behavior has reached a point that there is no other choice. This is a mental battle for me. I fully embrace the idea of not restraining kids. I see it escalate them and know it is not helpful. In situations like this though, there really is no other choice. By the time they attempted to restrain her, it took four adults and at least two of those adults were injured. Debriefing the event, the only thing that could have been done differently was back at the beginning. When she first got upset, whatever happened right before that–that’s the key. I don’t know what that was. It was not my classroom. I still feel like I should have done something to stop it, but I know I couldn’t have.
Lastly, do not underestimate the power of middle school mood swings. They can really mess you up!
Peace out my caped friends. It’s time to place my thoughts elsewhere and recoup my strength for next week.