So, I have been talking to my mother for the past couple of weeks about what I like to call a "Kiddie Crisis." I have been monitoring a child in my class for off-task behaviors since the beginning of the year. He had made some progress and could stay on-task for about 10 minutes at a time before the holiday break, but when he came back the behaviors had intensified . As the behaviors intensified, I realized that I was saying his name about every 5 seconds, trying to get him on-task. It got to the point that I was so frustrated that I felt like I was failing the child as well as failing as a teacher. I felt this way because the behaviors got to the point where they were not only distracting him but also the rest of the class. The students were coming up to me every two to three minutes to tattle on the child for something. I could not make it through a single lesson or a small group without being interrupted at least 5 times by multiple students who were dying to tell me about the behaviors of the child - that I could clearly see. I was super frustrated, so I decide to turn to Dr. Dayle - my mentor and friend, my mother.
I called her at my wits end. I was ready to give up. I vented for at least an hour and she just listened. After I had vented out, she gave me a five minute explanation that has really helped me tremendously. When I get frustrated I start to think that no one is on my side and nobody believes what I am saying. I tend to blame everyone around me because they are not helping. The truth is, there are teachers like my mother who have been there and dealt with a child just like the one I'm talking about! When I finally stopped feeling sorry for myself and got off the defensive and listened, I thought that maybe her idea wouldn't be so bad idea. Of course, I was very skeptical. However, it couldn't get any worse. She warned me that the child's behaviors would get worse before it got better.
I started by setting up a sticker chart for students who ignored the inappropriate behaviors from the child. I explained to the children that they really needed to help the child and that they could help the most by doing the right thing and by not paying any attention when he was making bad choices. My mother explained to me that the child was looking for attention and he was okay if it was negative attention! I worried that the child would find out the chart is about him. I was sure that someone would tell him and they did! Sure enough a student in my class who doesn't particularly like the child decided that he would tell him all about it when he came back into the classroom. However, the rest of the class all played dumb. They acted like they had no idea what he was talking about and the child went right back to thinking that it was a good deeds chart and any time you helped someone, you got a sticker.
Step one complete. Step 2 was instituting a "tattle box." Students were encouraged to write down any tattles that they had and place them into a box. that way they felt like they could do something, but it didn't take my attention. I read the tattles later and resolved any issues that needed attention. Oh, and if you didn't already guess, every tattle in there was about the disobedient child. Literally!!
I can happily say that the plan is working slowly, but the feedback has been great. I have found that the students are removing themselves from situations where they are usually distracted by the child. They are actually ignoring his behaviors, and no longer tattling to me - other than a couple of times a day. I have also found that I am able to get through whole group and small group lessons which has been the greatest benefit of it all because I no longer feel that I am failing my students.
That's not to say that I still don't have concern for the child. His behaviors have gotten progressively worse which was expected. I was warned about this, but who would have thought that they could get so bad. It has progressed to the point where he pretty much does nothing all day other than try to get me or the students to pay attention to him. He has started rolling around on the floor, eating things off the floor and out of the trash can, and other really strange and inappropriate behaviors. As the days continue I am hoping that the behaviors will lessen. As always I will keep you updated.... until then...