Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Day That Things Went Wrong

Was it a bad omen that as I read Ramona the Pest during Quiet Story Time, the chapter that I stopped at was called The Day That Things Went Wrong?

Let's start from the beginning.

The day actually started really nicely. Today was the day that the cafeteria was serving a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Parents are invited to come and eat with their kiddos and the cafeteria is decorated as festively as a school cafeteria can be.

My kids did not make the traditional pilgrim hats that you typically see little ones making at this time of year. Normally we would have had the girls make the white bonnets and the boys wear black hats with a bright yellow buckle. Instead, following the guidance of an excellent teacher across the hall, we made historically accurate brown "felt" hats. My brilliant I.A. came up with the idea of squishing paper around each kid's head and then wrapping masking tape around and around. She then cut off the excess paper, the kids painted them brown and VOILA! (See the picture above).

Before our luncheon, we also took a brief trip outside for a leaf hunt and then came in to describe the differences between our leaves and to do some ol' fashioned leaf rubbings.

Doesn't this sound like a lovely day?

Well yes, it was, except for one nagging issue that was like a toothache. I have one kiddo who resents being told what to do. You tell her to sit down, she stands up. You ask her to put her work away, she takes out more work to do. I feel like this child gives me the bird with her eyes everyday. I have tried many methods of behavior management and they have all failed, and today, they failed HARD.

So throughout our Fall-O-Rama, this child sat out of activities glaring at me. I did my best to ignore it.

Then we got to the tipping point. After being reminded 3 times what her job was I asked her to sit out of an activity. She preceded to cry out loud (that "pay attention to me" cry) for 20 minutes. As she was crying she would inch her way out off the chair and on to the floor and then inch her way across the floor.

I was done.

I gave her two choices. Choice A - take a deep breath and settle down and sit in the chair as she was asked to or Choice B - go to the office.

Of course she didn't pick Choice A. We then entered into a dangerous dance of a frustrated teacher trying to physically move a child while the child has turned boneless (thanks Mo Willems) and screaming hysterically.

My I.A. was very smart and saw that this was going nowhere good and stepped in to diffuse the situation. Then I walked the kid down to the office, fuming. Mom says she does this at home all the time.... sigh.

So I am currently working on a behavior management plan that will hopefully make a difference but I am having a hard time shaking this resentment towards this kid. Who does she think she is ruining such a wonderful day? I'll shake this feeling off before I see her tomorrow, but right now I'm still fuming.


Snippety Gibbet said...

Your IA is such a wonderful teacher. Honest to goodness, I was thinking earlier today that I needed to hang a sign in the room....a reminder....that says, "What Would Mrs. C Do?" I have never seen that woman lose her cool with a child.

Anonymous said...

I grinned at the Mo Willems "boneless" reference. None of my kids got it when we read it, but that's because none of them have gone all floppy on me.

That girl sounds like quite a challenge. It's really frustrating when they get under your skin like that!

Ms. Julie's Place said...

There is a new book called The Motivation Breakthrough by Richard Lavoie.
The main audience it is geared toward is parents and teachers of LD kids, but the principles apply across the board. It sounds like this kid is motivated by power, and there is nothing like challenging authority to give one a sense of power. The trick here is to find a way to give her her own power without relegating yours.
Suggestions in the book include offering more choices(more meaning more often), giving responsibility, and allowing yourself to lose some of the less important power struggles. Though I cannot possibly give you all the info this book has to say on the subject, I can highly recommend it. Even in an art class these challenging students can exist, and some of these techniques have worked really well for me.