Year: 1996-1997
Month: December
Leader: Group C

Situation/Case Study:
SYSTEMIC POLICY ISSUE

Description:
A seventh grade science student complains to administration that she is being picked on by other students. The girl wants all of her classes changed so that she doesn't have to sit by the same people. In one section (not science) this was accomplished. She doesn't put effort into any of her assignments. Instead, she wants her grades to be modified and her assignments altered to be easier. When the teacher would not agree, the girl wanted to switch to another section of science. When she is sent to Structured, she acts inappropriately-- flirts with the boys. Typically, she spends about half the period in each class. The teacher thinks that the girl feels that if she continues to do poorly, she will be sent away to coop which is her desire. There are many sources of tension in the girl's life. She is the middle child in a family of eight children. This is her first year in the school district. Recently, her sister was moved to a shelter (reason unclear). The girl's grandmother is dying from cancer.

Hypotheses:
A teacher in this situation might... 1.feel angry, frustrated, impatient. 2. feel a lack of control because the student seems to be running the show. 3. view the child as seeking to gain control over her situation. 4. feel manipulated, angry, frustrated because the student knows how to work the system to her needs met. 5. feel manipulated, taken advantage of, and unsupported. 6. manipulated by the system, this child, the staff, because so many people are trying to work so many angles of this child-- academic, social, emotional, family dynamics.

Theories behind practice:
Belonging. Self fulfilling prophecy. Power and control.

Impact on others:
1. Conflict between dealing with psychological problems and addressing academic issues. 2. Feelings of confusion on the part of the teacher.

Solutions:
1. Learning/behavior contract may be effective. 2. Limit time and opportunities for the girl to go to the counselor. 3. Establish some pre-referral activities. 4. Keep clear anecdotal records.

Comments:
Once again the weather was very severe today. As a result , the group decided to do an expedited version of the process. That is why the responses seem a little skimpy. One very positive outcome of today's session is that one of the very quiet first year teachers agreed to have her episode discussed. She seemed very happy to have the help. She also seemed very comfortable with the process and the group. I think the RPG is creating a very safe place for teachers to get and receive frank feedback about classroom issues. I am continually struck by the sensitivity and caring with which the teachers respond to each other, their students, and the episodes being discussed.