More about Space Cadet.
On Friday, I had to come in about an hour late, so my class started their day with a sub and had computer class two hours earlier than usual. I've found that those small events are often enough to set off my behaviorally challenged kids. Despite the schedule changes, my kids went through the day with no problems. And then, in the last ten minutes of the day, disaster struck in the form of Space Cadet.
I had just let the kids clean out their desks and cubbies (as per our usual Friday afternoon routine), and I had put on some music to calm them down before dismissal. A few children got out of their seats to dance, and I asked them to sit down. They all sat, except for Space Cadet. Knowing that he had an audience, he took his show on the road, and danced around in my reading corner, spinning around and almost knocking over a basket of books.
The following conversation ensued...
Me: Space Cadet! I asked everyone to sit down.
SC: (Laughs, stops spinning, but does not sit down)
Me: Go turn your card.
(Note - my behavior plan consists of a pocket chart with 4 different colored apples for each student: green, yellow, red, blue. Every child starts on green each day, and if the behavior is a problem, they are asked to "turn their card." Yellow is a warning, red and blue have more serious consequences.)
SC: What?! I have to turn my card? What did I do??
Me: I asked you twice to sit down and you're still out of your seat. Please go turn it.
SC: (Stomps over to pocket chart) How did I get in trouble? I was just dancing! You can't get in trouble for dancing! (at this point, his voice is raised, and his tone is challenging)
Me: You're not in trouble for dancing. But you were out of your seat after you were asked to sit down.
SC: Man! (he punctuates this with a heavy sigh as he slumps into his chair)
Me: SC, I need your homework copybook.
SC: You have to write my mom a note?!
Me: Just give me your book, please.
SC: (opens school bag, glances inside) It's not there.
Me: It should be.
SC: Well, it's not. (again, his tone is extremely hostile and defiant)
Me: Then check your desk.
SC: (opens desk, glances inside) It's not here.
Me: Then I want you to take every book out of your desk until you find it.
SC: Man! (he proceeds to throw every book onto the floor, grumbling under his breath)
Me: What did you say?
SC: Nothing. (finishes emptying desk, and turns to me) It's not in here, and I'm not looking for it anymore!
Silence in the classroom. Every eye is on the showdown between me and Space Cadet, including the school secretary who had just walked in to deliver a message.
Me: (making supreme attempt to stay calm and not stoop to his level... which has become increasingly difficult) Hand me your school bag.
SC: Here. (thrusts school bag at me)
Me: (open bag, look inside, see homework book) I found it.
SC: (crying) FINE! Write a note! My mom and dad won't care if I get in trouble! I was just dancing! I'm not gonna get in trouble for dancing! That's corny!
I chose not to respond. Instead, I opened his book and filled out the behavior chart that I keep with his parents, as a result of a meeting we had several months ago. When I put it back in his school bag, he yelled, "I always get in trouble! You're always mad at me!" I explained that I was not mad at him, just disappointed in the choices he made today, but there was clearly no reasoning with him.
I think my main problem with Space Cadet is that he constantly challenges me. He's not afraid to talk back, yell at me, defy my authority. He wasn't like this at the beginning of the year. He was hyper, difficult to focus, easily distracted. Then the behavior began to change. If he got in trouble, he'd have major crying tantrums, sometimes pounding his desk. Now he's downright disrespectful. Like I said before, it takes absolutely every bit of my energy not to stoop to his level and fight back.
One good thing is that I have excellent communication with his parents. Mom is aware of his behavior problems and is willing to work with him at home. She comes for meetings, responds to notes, and returns phone calls. Space Cadet also sees a counselor once a week outside of school. Unfortunately, none of it seems to be helping. I've asked Mom for another meeting, as soon as possible. Hopefully we can come up with a plan that will work.