Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I almost pressed the button and called in a nuclear strike.
Then at the last minute, saner minds prevailed and things got settled.
My mind wasn't one of them.
The sane ones I mean.
You never know what's going to touch off a major incident, it's not something we plan for though maybe now we should.
Nuclear meltdown in the classroom, unplanned border crossings and such.
We have been making progress with our students, but it often comes at a price, usually something negative must happen in order for something positive to be learned.
It's easy for me to forget that these, uh, students I have, are not of the norm, not of the moderate, not even of the severe.
They are at times, beyond description and my comprehension.
Now I am of the thick skinned sort, you don't go through art school being overly sensitive or susceptible to negative criticism.
I suppose being the type of students they are, being thick skinned is a necessity though the method in which they acquired such armor is different from my own.
Being thick skinned does not make us alike.
They it seems, still have much to learn about personal relationships and the dangers of over stepping certain personal boundaries.
Today, they crossed the line.
Okay, it's not as dramatic as it seems, for this isn't the first time they have gone over to the dark side, and I am sure it won't be the last.
I think the mission here is to make them aware of their actions, self assess the motivations behind the actions, then have them make a logical decision based upon their own conclusions.
Sort of like talking to cyclists about running stop signs; either they get it or they don't.
The cyclists will continue to run the lights and signs, until something catastrophic happens to change their minds.
These kids are the same way.
Something really really bad has to occur before the above self reflection takes place. Talking and explaining does not seem to work, they are compelled to touch the fire before acknowledging the burn.
As dealing with this type of student is not in my area of expertise, I have my problems, my own version of the China Syndrome, and today was one of them.
Fortunately, going ballistic is no longer in my repertoire, a cool head prevails, and any show of anger is mostly an act.
At times I believe a show of anger is necessary, especially with this bunch, or perhaps it is my way of explaining my own crossing of the line, my own border excursion.
Like in international relations, going to a higher state of readiness is interpreted as a show of force thus creating a showdown or standoff.
A necessary evil?
A calculated risk?
I will know in a few days.
I also face the reality that there is no DEFCON 1, there is no aggressive option, there is no cocking of the pistol so to speak.
There can only be compromise.
Not only students can learn things in the classroom.
Boy, I had a rough day.
Thankfully my dog was happy to see me.


indigo_ink said...

I think it is important to show students at times when we are angry or disappointed in their actions (the hardest thing, I think, is that we have to be disciplined and make sure we don't let our display of anger become an everyday occurrence!) I think students who are not able to reflect and assess themselves independently look to the adults for information on how they are doing.
Classrooms can be exciting, but lately in my room the excitement of learning has been outweighed by the sinking realization -- "uh oh, did that student really do that??!??" So I sympathize.

limom said...

Really, it's appreciated.
I don't like to think of it this way, but in reality, this classroom has been a test bed of sorts, of all the things I learned about classroom management.
Try this, try that, this works, this doesn't.
I liken it to bringing law to a lawless town.
That's not an exaggeration, but a pretty close proximation of what goes on everyday.
These kids all have IEPs and BSPs we try to follow, but in the end, well, we can only try.
It's madness!
Okay, not really.
Things have gotten better, I think.
On the other hand, I've crossed a line into a rather large grey area and at this point feel like there is no return.
My responsiblities as an EA certainly have become a bit blurred.
I knew the job was dangerous when I took it!
I have a meeting today so hopefully some things will be straightened out.
Stay tuned.