I started teaching this week. 22 years. Forty-six little faces (ok, teenage faces) staring back at me.
It took 3 days for my principal to decide that Clarence should go back to the alternative school, aptly titled, LIFE.
3 days. 1, 2, 3.
I realize there are occasions where this is necessary. Students who fit the bill for alternative settings. I have taught this group of young adults for half of my career. I was shocked at this one though. Got a group email asking that I see him, the principal, about Clarence. … wanted to fill me in on his situation. I had no idea there was a problem. I knew he had a “baby mama”. Eh, it happens. But, he was working for me. Obviously distracted. Lacks the basics in math, but he’s a freshman… and has a baby mama. I figured I had some time with him. Wasn’t a problem other wise. I’d had him for 3 days.
So, good ole Mr. Wood informed me that when Clarence was 4 he watched as 3 men “busted” down the front door of his house. One grabbed him and he watched as the other two filled his father full of bullets. Mr. Wood didn’t bother taking me into his office to inform me of this news. Didn’t even bother to really look around to see if anyone else was listening. In all fairness, he did sound (and I know he was genuinely) sad for Clarence. But, um… I can’t say I was entirely prepared for the news. I’m one who feels nearly everything she thinks. And so for a bit… I was there in that house with Clarence – I’m sorry, I just do that. I believe it’s the PTSD in me. I don’t know……
After I got my poop back in a group…. and took a deep breathe that I didn’t even have to begin with, I stood there and wondered about it for minute. Really wondered what I was going to do. Then I went into teacher mode – which is helpful since I am suppose to be a teacher. It just never gets old for me. I never get use to it. Then I got angry about it because I suddenly remembered that the head principal wants to send him to LIFE… What the hell for? You all ready for this? Because he got upset in class when a teacher told him to sit in his assigned seat in the front of the room. First day of school. He refused. There was an argument. He lost the argument (which, had I not known anything about the kid either – he probably would have lost with me). He ended up in the office… and I’m sure shit when down after that! So, he should go to alternative school for that because of his background. Suddenly I was sickened by the thought that I bet the boy has an IEP (Individual Education Plan) and a BP (Behavior Plan) plan and I haven’t seen either yet. New kid to the school. BP’s were just uploaded for us to view. I don’t know anything about the kid and NO ONE ELSE DOES EITHER. And, because he comes from (excuse the reference) the other side of the tracks, no one probably came into the school to let us know to look out for him…
Then I find out that he came from the middle school LIFE program – which is attached to our LIFE program but no one bothered – no professional educator – bothered to say…. Hey, Clarence has some quirks. We’d like to see him succeed in a regular high school setting because WE are professional educators and that is what we are all about so……. here he is…. please be aware.
NO ONE CARED.
Day 3. He’s on his way out because he’s too anxious to sit in the front of a classroom and can’t handle a confrontation perfectly. Which SOMEONE could have informed us about. Someone other than a 14 year old traumatized kid could have given us a heads. If anyone says no about that I think I will vomit. It is our job, people. Come on.
So I say, “Mr Wood. Has anyone sent Clarence to the social worker yet?”
Seems like a perfectly rational idea to me? It’s not like the social worker’s cup is overflowing with issues at the moment. I talked to the social worker. He told me no one from administration had spoken to him about Clarence, but he’d seen him in the detention room earlier in the week. Clarence has a ‘fro that stands out a bit. Can’t really miss. But he honestly rocks it! So, when I showed the SW a pic of him he knew who I was talking about.
Day 5, Clarence is still at the school. I asked if he’d seen the social worker. He said he hadn’t but would meet him. So, I sent him. I talked to the SW and he told me that they had a good chat. Clarence was wide open about things. He told him he’d really like to touch base with him if it was ok and Clarence said he was fine with that. Hmmm.
There’s a fine line in teaching. When to get involved and when not to… And, at any time I think as educators we can use that card. The “it’s not my job” card. I understand that. There are times when I have so much on my plate that I have to use it. I also understand that being bipolar makes me, at times, overly emotional and I am forced to draw lines – which I’m not all that good at. However, I feel that when a student is making a transition from middle school to high school there aren’t any lines to draw. No balls to drop. Especially when we know that there is very little, if any parent, support. Right now, I am sick about the situation. Admittedly, I have issues with letting things go. I have done what I can for the support he needs. I have washed my hands of that and now I am concentrating on how to get him to produce in my classroom. That’s the next entry, I am sure.
It’s just so frustrating.
Over and out people. Have a beautiful day!