An eighth grader, who does nothing in/out of class but is very bright, pulled "Anarchy" stuff off the Internet. Dad's not concerned about it; just wants teachers to do more to let him know about homework. (The Dad is already being faxed the student's homework weekly, is phoned weekly etc.) The Internet information was about how to make bombs "that will set your school into turmoil." The boy is very intelligent, is passing tests from his general knowledge. The boy is in the custody of the father, spent a week with mother two summers ago and has never been with her since. The teacher feels there's a more complex problem than just one of not doing any work in school. The child seems depressed and withdrawn, a social isolate, he talks to no one. Has a pale appearance, is lethargic. The father discounts any comments referring to the emotional well being of the son. The father is demanding the school figure out how to get his son to do the homework and that is all he is concerned about! It is the school's job to fix his son. Dad does a snow job on principal and then turns on teachers with angry demands. Child is never absent or sick. Will it take a big crisis to get the father's attention or help for the boy?
I want to shake the dad until he gets a clue about his son. I am concerned about what this student will do to others or himself. The teacher must feel frustrated having tried so many things; what else can you do? Student should be hooked up with a mentor of some kind who has been through some rough times. Find some positive channels. Student needs clear boundaries and expectations (contract). Teacher needs information on anarchy, Hitler, as well as positive models. [?] I would feel nervous for the student because what if he is actually asking for attention and help and is being overlooked by the father. I would feel helpless and stuck because I see the homework issue as insignificant and the father disagrees. The situation is frustrating because of a lack of student motivation and parent cooperation. The situation is confusing, How do we help this student work through emotional issues to be able to be successful in some way. It is scary; this student is at-risk. How do we intervene before the child is lost? You may be feeling helpless and frustrated with the father not regarding the issue from the Internet as an issue. You might worry about the student's depression and withdrawal from everyone. You might feel tired of faxing all those sheets
Theories behind practice:
Impact on others:
Document interventions; map patterns of isolation and depression. Ask questions, check background for major changes. Ask student about his feelings regarding the divorce, his mother. Tell Dad it is his job to call teacher from now on, give time and day you will be available. Call the student into a Family meeting with all four teachers asking, "What do you need?" or "How else can we help you?"
Closure to the two hours was made by each participant sharing what they valued from this meeting. The common value: the camaraderie, having the opportunity to share and hear the support of other members who are struggling with the same concerns and problems.