I just read an article that made me tear up. It made me think of my daughter last year and her struggles in school. I could relate to what the article was saying, and I felt that it reached to the core of what our situation was like last year, with K frequently having tantrums and outbursts in school, and the teacher having to spend so much of her time and energy focusing on keeping K calm and focused while we struggled to figure out WHY she was having such a hard time staying calm and focused. To be clear, the article I read was written by a teacher, and was addressed to parents, not to the parents of “THAT KID”, but to the parents who’s children come home complaining about “THAT KID”. It discussed what it’s like to have a child who may bite, kick, scream, throw things, etc. in your class, and the fact that those things can distract from the lessons, and that regardless of the fact that “THAT KID” has those issues, the teacher will do everything in “her” power to help and love that child and help the parents throughout all of the meetings to figure out what’s going on, etc. Basically, I could relate to the article, because on so many occasions last year we were called to the school for meetings about K’s behavior, because she wasn’t doing any work, had crumpled it up and thrown it, she was lying in the bookshelves during nap time, she had become frustrated and kicked the desk, shouted at someone, was showing the other students her underpants (I’m sure the other parents heard about that one, several times) and there are more I can’t even think of. While I don’t specifically think she ever hit any of the other students, there are a couple of other incidents I’d rather not mention here that were real whoppers. We had notes with at least 6 infractions at least 3 days a week last year. So yes, last year, my child was “THAT KID” in her class. While I was happy to read an article talking about how much this teacher was willing to work with these children, describing the reasons why these children might be going through these different phases (she mentions divorce, adoption, moving in with a grandparent, and that the grandparent may drink, another child may be yelled at by her father because she writes her B’s backwards, etc.) she also lists the things these children do that make them wonderful (kissing their younger sibling every morning, helping sharpen the pencils every day, one child’s aggressive incidents are dropping from several a day to several a week, one loves to be rocked because she can hear the teacher’s heartbeat, etc.) I was appalled by some of the comments that I read in response to the article. One person talked about how, “some people will just be smart and others will just be dumb.” Someone else blamed it on Common Core (honestly, Common Core has just started, and so far all of the complaints I’ve seen about it haven’t held much complaining ground. I’ll probably write more about that later) Someone mentioned that if a child can’t be in a general ed classroom without disrupting the class they should be in special ed (they referenced their child who has autism, and while I’ll admit that last year I felt that K should be moved to a special ed class because her behavior was disruptive, she is now doing amazingly well in a regular ed classroom) If we moved every student with emotional difficulties out of the regular ed classrooms, the majority of students would be in a special education classroom at some point. At some point in a child’s life, and in a persons life, depending on the surroundings that the child is in (and children are especially susceptible to this as their young brains are still developing) there is a likelihood that they will go through a phase of defiance, and depending on what other issues may be going on they may experience greater emotional turmoil than their peers. The fact that the people responding to the article responded so harshly and inconsiderately on these children’s behalf makes me think that they have never had a child who has dealt with emotional troubles of any sort. It breaks my heart every time my daughter has a tantrum (and they still happen often, although not quite as often as they used to) and knowing that all I can do is let her get that anger out and release those feelings until she feels better, until that time when she finishes yelling, “You’re the meanest Mommy in the world!” and suddenly changes to “Mommy, I love you. You’re the best Mommy ever.” And gently walks over and kisses my cheek, those are the times I gain more understanding. I only wish I could share that understanding with others. Until it’s your child, maybe you’ll never know.
Link to article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/11/14/teacher-to-parents-about-that-kid-the-one-who-hits-disrupts-and-influences-your-kid/
(K getting ready for a school event day in Kindergarten)