Year: 1997-1998
Month: April
Leader: Group J

Situation/Case Study:

Two boys won't do any work the teacher assigns. They are always late for class, (25-35 times) to date. They love being sent to Structured Study; nothing is ever giving to the boys as consequences. There is no observable change in their dysfunctional behaviors. Neither the parents nor the principal of the building give the teacher any support. The teacher shared the situation because she is beginning to wonder if she wants to continue to work against such odds. She is not able to see herself making a difference in this setting...and wonders if her energies would be more profitable in another career. Behind the scene an alternative situation is being applied for one of the boys. However, there is a waiting list and so it appears as though nothing is being addressed. Parents are withdrawing their consent for an alternative because of the delay. The time crunch of trying to make transitions for the end of the year. "I am out of energy, I feel sucked-out. The student dying of brain cancer is closer to death and I as a teacher involved with the student have no resources to handle the grief.

The staff is struggling with the student dying of brain cancer. How do we deal with it as an adult hurting? How can they reach out to the student's family? There has been no effort from the school to acknowledge the grief of everyone aware of the student's impending death. Parents initially did not want anyone to know. Now kids know the critical nature of the student. At the farewell party kids were asking, "Is he really going to die?" What do you say? Do parents know why kids are asking questions or being very quiet? What is the message being given to the student body about their worth when nothing is made of a student's death? What life skills are not being taught at the teachable moment? Do parents need help working with grief and death? The staff is also grieving because of all the changes there will be because of The Move.

Theories behind practice:

Impact on others:


The group ended this session being very grateful to each other for the opportunity to talk about grief...their issues with the student dying and the other issues of lost, frustrations etc. They were very sensitive to each other’s place with the particular story they shared around what they were grieving about. There was really no end to this meeting. My experience with this group of teachers was most interesting. The first two meetings started slow but the group really got into discussing the issues that were barriers to serving students with “best practices”. I was again humbled by the sincerity of each member in regards to their dedication to helping students learn. They generally spoke with an openness of trying to get help meeting their shared frustrations. They did not succumb to negativism. They spilled their hurts and feelings of being disrespected as professionals. They felt total exasperation in trying to help kids when they stood so alone, without the support of parents or administration and when students’ problems are obviously beyond or bigger than what a single teacher can address effectively. I respect this group of teachers. I worry about each and everyone. It would be a loss to the profession to lose anyone of them. I particularly am concerned about the first year teachers who seem overwhelmed and drained after just one year of experience.