Thursday, November 20, 2008

a flurry of activity.

I'm not a fan of Christmas music before the holiday season. (And when I say "before," I mean playing Christmas music the day after Halloween.) But it was flurrying when I drove home today, so I switched on one of the two (!?) radio stations in the city that are playing nothing but "holiday music" (read: "Christmas music"... since I've yet to hear a Kwanzaa or Hanukkah song). And I sang at the top of my lungs to "Feliz Navidad" (the Jose Feliciano version, of course, not the subpar Celine Dion rendition) while the snowflakes fell around me. Okay, in all fairness, it was as much rain as it was snow... but still. It was enough to make me want to load my mp3 player with winter songs, along the lines of "Let it Snow," and "Winter Wonderland" and "Baby, it's Cold Outside." Still too early for the hymns and carols, though.

Anyway. I've been busy, as always. I took a personal day on Monday to go to a screening interview for a Very Distinguished School District. I had applied for a teaching position there back in August, and they contacted me in October to invite me to this interview. There were about twenty other people there (not applying for any specific position... just trying to get into the district), and the whole thing lasted about two hours. First, an overview of the district and an explanation of their hiring process. Then we each had an individual interview with a district principal (the guy who interviewed me was AWESOME and happened to grow up in the same neighborhood as me, so we had a nice conversation about that). And finally, we headed to the computer lab, where we had 30 minutes to complete a writing sample. There was nothing personalized about any of it. The interview questions were the same for all of us, as was the writing prompt ("What are the qualities of an ideal teacher?"). If they like me, I'll be placed on a district list... and then I have to wait to see if a principal in the district is interested in interviewing me for an actual teaching position. It's all very complicated... but there's a reason they're such a good district. They're extremely particular about who gets in. Fingers crossed.

Last Thursday was the long-awaited meeting for my ADHD boy. His parents did show up, which made me very happy. But it was all downhill from there. The school psychologist led the discussion using the results from his evaluation. He told the parents that the boy should go to an ADHD clinic, where they will most likely recommend a combination of meds and behavior modification. He gave the parents a huge list of things to do, including: make another appointment with his pediatrician, make an appointment with the ADHD clinic at a local hospital, buy and read a parent's guide to ADHD, establish clear and consistent rewards and consequences for the boy at home.

The parents listened, but didn't say much, and I got the impression that they weren't going to follow through on everything he said. Our counselor asked about getting a wrap-around for him in school, since he needs such frequent monitoring, but that would also be the parents' responsibility. The counselor also pointed out that there's a 6 month waiting list for an appointment at the ADHD clinic. She asked, "What is Miss M supposed to do in the meantime? She has him for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week... and right now, he isn't learning." (Not to mention that I have a very difficult time teaching. And the other kids in my room are disrupted every few minutes by his noise, tapping, calling out, throwing things, etc...) The psychologist's suggestion? I should make a personalized behavior chart for the boy, broken into small time periods, and reward him when he stays on task. Great. He already has a chart like that, which I started at the beginning of October. The parents initial it every night. It hasn't changed anything.

The counselor offered to meet with the parents once a week to follow up on the appointments and see if they need any help. She scheduled the first meeting for this past Tuesday, which both parents agreed to. They didn't come. And when she called the house, the father said they "forgot" about the meeting. He also said he wasn't sure if his wife had tried to make any of the phone calls to set up doctor's appointments.

The boy was absent yesterday, and the class was SO calm. I got a ridiculous amount of teaching done. One of my kids even said, "Everyone's being so GOOD today! No one had to sign the behavior book!" I think they all felt the difference.

I'm not hopeful that anything will be done to resolve this issue. I think I'm going to spend the rest of the year trying to find ways to keep him focused and on-task so that he actually learns something. And honestly, I'm not sure it's something I can accomplish on my own. I've got a lot of teaching experience and I'm special ed certified, but there's only so much I can do with the limited resources we have in our school. His needs are definitely not being met. If I had him in a smaller classroom, or if he had a wrap-around... then maybe. But that's not the case. Sometimes this job is so frustrating.

1 comment:

Keeper35 said...

The fact that this kids parents are not doing everything that they should to help sounds like it would be frustrating. I like the fact that you are trying to stay positive and find a way to teach this kid something. I was a challenging student and most of my teachers just didn't know what to do with me. My younger self is asking you not to give up on him. Keep trying to find ways to reach him.