This was an incredibly interesting read for me. Over the last two years I have a number of students who have either already been diagnosed, or (in my opinion) should have been diagnosed with ADHD, however this piece directly addressed some of what those students may be dealing with instead.
Parents and teachers are eager for students with attention and behavioral issues to be given the ADHD label, hoping that medication and possibly therapy will help to address behavior and success inside and outside of the classroom. ADHD diagnoses give some of the benefits of LD lables (longer test times, for one) but do not necessarily have the stigma of other LDs. At an older age, students and young adults have a vested interest in being diagnosed because it is “easier” to do well when taking certain ADHD medications. However, what if we all started getting the right amount of sleep? Would so many people still have symptoms of ADHD?
“Someone else’s behavior is never an excuse for your own” stays up in my classroom all year. I use it in a lesson in early September on the concept of personal responsibility. Thereafter, at any cry of “he told me to do it” or “she did it first”, I will bring the entire class to a halt so we can reread this phrase and I can reinforce the concept of “YOU are in charge of YOU”. I think it’s been very successful, and at the very least my students learn very quickly that blaming others for their actions doesn’t fly with me, and they quit trying it!
“The early college high school is lauded as a way to provide low-income students with a road map to and through college. Bard’s new school also offers an escape from Newark’s mean streets.”
I had dinner last week with one of the people who helped open (and helps run) this and its related schools (in NYC and New Orleans). It’s an amazing concept and system, and appears to really work. It makes sense based upon everything we know about bright but forgotten students: they laze when presented with easy work because they either know they will get a good grade no matter what, or they feel it’s so easy it doesn’t matter; when faced with intellectual and academic challenges, they thrive.
Paolo Freire “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” (p. 26)
Translated by: Myra Bergman Ramos
Published in: Valentine’s Foundations of Education. 2000. New York: Continuum. pp 25-67.
Today was tough but there were a few great moments. I saw students using literacy, writing and collaboration in ways I had never even discussed with them. Two of my students got together to lay out a train track while a third wrote a time table for the train!! In the art area, two students came together to make a three-part drawing of the earth, sky, and outer space (we’re currently studying outer space) with labels and everything, it was awesome!
I went into this week with the best of intentions and highest of hopes. We began a unit on outer space last week and the kids have been incredibly dedicated and engaged. However, this was the hardest, worst, most miserable week I’ve had since beginning work at 211. I don’t know how or why, but my classroom always seems to attract the kids who need the most help- much more than I can possibly hope to give (especially because I am not a special education teacher, nor do I have access to many resources for special needs students). You would think that with three full-time teachers in the room, one over-the-top out-of-control crazy kid wouldn’t have too much of a degenerative effect on the room, but he does. The situation has gotten out of control, to the point where no one, teacher or student, feels safe in the room. The obvious issue with this is that when four-year-olds don’t feel safe in their environment, they act out, and so even my best behaved kids are developing issues. I am failing them, and am incredibly frustrated because I feel that it is not my fault. I cannot protect myself (the many cuts and bruises attest to this), and therefore it is easy for all to see that I can hardly protect my other students. I began the year with another student who had similar violent tendencies, and my director worked to get her help, and get her out, very quickly. For whatever reason, it was not until this week that my director began to agree that my new-ish (he began in December) student’s behavior was a threat to the classroom and so we’ve been trying to deal with it up until now.
I am hoping to end the weekend refreshed and relieved, with a positive look towards the next week, but I am skeptical. I am exhausted, physically and mentally, and have been brow-beaten by a four-year-old who has assaulted me more times than I can count. I would like to think that I am surviving, and striving to take it to the next level in my room. However, I fear that only once this student is removed from my class will my students and I be able to thrive.
Since we still don’t have a budget, I made some of my own sensory bottles so that we would have SOMETHING in the science center. They’ve been a total hit, and were really easy to make. I am looking for ideas for making new ones, and will post each one individually soon.
My school finally got a photocopier on Thursday!
“WHAT?!” you may say. Yes, it’s true. Since school opened on October 1, until Thursday, January 10, my school had no photocopier (or printer). Now it will be much easier to do activities that require all students to have a copy of something, to have my students sign in in the mornings, to give parents messages and newsletters, and well just basically to do anything.
And I am psyched!