Year: 1998-1999
Month: November
Leader: Group A

Situation/Case Study:

I have a student whose parents are going about discipline in the wrong way. I feel he has EBD and his problems will not be fixed easily or quickly. The student had extreme behaviors in third grade including biting a man and then being dragged down to the office by two teachers. Normally, he is quietly defiant. Most of the time he doesn’t disturb the learning of others; he talks to himself under his breath. For example, “I’m not going to do this. You can’t make me.” When you hear the above, you cannot bring him back. The more you try, the worse it becomes. The quote becomes louder and louder. The fourth grade social studies teacher put him in the time-out area. She should have put him in the principal’s office. He came back to my room crawling and screaming. I gave him a warning and tried to ignore him. But the rest of the class went off - laughing at his behavior. I called the secretary and told her, “I need someone to remove a child right now.” The EBD teacher came and the child bolted out the door. I told her he can not come back until my class is on the bus. The child was up and down making all kinds of noise. The mom and boyfriend came to pick him up. No eye contact is made when he is having a spell. The mom is out of it - pneumonia, medication. Boyfriend, “We’ll take care of it. We’ll fix it.” A week later at the Halloween carnival, the student was embarrassed about his short hair; his long hair was a source of pride. The mom and boyfriend cut his hair as a punishment. He hid in the bathroom and skipped math. Teachers are working separately. Action is taken if the school calls the boyfriend. He didn’t receive EBD designation because his Mother didn’t want to sign papers. Special education department was dysfunctional. Mom believes her son is normal. Is there anyway to limit in-school movement? What about in-school suspension? Maybe a cool down pass for the library. If he refuses, he will be removed. The boyfriend probably doesn’t abuse the child, but the child is afraid of him. If he doesn’t want to take a science test, he will leave it blank. He has not been carried out. He has left willingly and come back willingly. When the incident happened after the social studies class, I told the class, “I am so sorry you had to see that. Some people make bad choices.” They didn’t know how to react. I maximized the situation, but the principal hoped that I had minimized it.

A teacher may feel frustrated because of the lack of communication or support, due to the structure of schedule for this child. How much a teacher can a teacher be responsible for the parents actions? The teacher may feel helpless and frustrated when no consequences she gives are effective for changing the child’s behavior, and parent involvement seems inappropriate. A teacher might feel very helpless because nothing seems to work to get the child back. Usually you can find something to get a child refocused. Also, there are so many involved it makes it hard to manage. The teacher must feel frustrated for the child, but also for the other children who have to witness the disrespectful behavior. A teacher in such an event might feel angry because she sees the parent not doing what is best for their child (parent in denial). I can see that the teacher must feel powerless and frustrated because nothing seems to be working. The teacher might also feel that the support staff is not dealing or working together to deal with the student/parent and behavior problem in a constructive, consistent manner which might be frustrating to child. The teacher might feel powerless. There is no unified plan for working with this child. When there are so many unanswered questions about his family it is difficult to create a plan. The teacher might feel confused because she doesn’t know how to deal with the student’s behavior and doesn’t know how he will respond to different situations. A teacher in this event might fell pressured to do something to help the child because she sees that home and school aren’t working together well. She wants the child’s behavior to improve for his sake - to like himself. A teacher may feel hopeless, powerless and hurt because of the student’s huge emotional issues that the “parents” won’t accept. The teacher is not a psychiatrist equipped to deal with the serious emotional issues of the “parents’ and child. It sounds like the teacher might feel angry that the child does not yet have a label and the parent/boyfriend aren’t being supportive. She might also be frustrated, not knowing what else to do. A teacher might feel stressed because of the unpredictability of the outbursts. A teacher might feel limited in ways to manage the behavior of the child and to deal with the behavior of the mother and boyfriend. A teacher might feel frustrated with the lack of institutional/community assistance in resolving this issue.

Theories behind practice:
What is the best practice for dealing with the seriously emotionally disturbed child? This is the important question. Theory and practice comes from my Dad: high expectations; nobody else can crawl on the floor; nobody else can get in the teacher’s face. I need to do something quickly. Because all situations are different, what is best for the child is not always possible with 26 other children? He is better for with me than anyone else. He is not an outcast. He normally lashes out at the adult. He does it for the attention. The music teacher tries to avoid it - soft talking - two warnings and asked to leave. During a calm time, tell the rules: two warnings and then, you will be asked to leave. When it happens, don’t tell, act. Any feedback for positive behavior? Most of the time, he likes to be left alone. I will use positive feedback.

Impact on others:

There is a lack of a system to get results or help. What can a school do? We have had a lot of conferences. As a classroom teacher, I do not have the tools to fix an EBD child. Mom and the boyfriend admitted the behavior is more serious. It would be great to have a flow chart for dealing with students with behavior problems.Overall, the participants seemed to express frustration with a consistent and efficient system for obtaining assistance in working with students having special needs.