Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Out of desks

It is Thanksgiving and my desks runneth over. I got student #31 on Tuesday, and I am now officially out of student desks. This one has a seat, but the next one won't. I told our curriculum specialist this and she responded, "No problem, we've got more desks in room 59." Dang it, that wasn't the point!

This last new student is a doozy though. He is about to be 14 and got moved to my 7th grade class from 6th grade. Yes, you read that correctly. He was held back twice for varying reasons, and they realized this year that if he completes 6th grade this year, goes into 7th grade next year, he'd be 16 while in 8th grade, and we're not legally allowed to have 16 year olds on our PreK-8 campus. Hence (or thus, as my students would say), he'd have to go straight to 9th grade after 7th. (Can you start to hear the splintering of the system going on here?) So, the new genius plan is to put him in 7th grade for the rest of this year (effectively skipping 6th grade), and then he'll be on track. However, he's already falling far behind 6th grade standards, so how in the world is he going to survive 7th grade standards, and jumping into them in the middle, to boot!

At lunch, I mentioned that I got this student, and the 5th and 6th grade teachers all got this slack-jawed look of fear in their eyes, and said, "You got HIM??? Good luck...." Then stories came pouring out explaining how terrible this kid is for every teacher he's with. Needless to say, a feeling of dread soaked through me at that point. After day 1, he did ok, but I don't know... On an acadmic level, I don't know how it will every work. On a behavioral level, if I can keep him scared stiff of the 7th graders (which he currently is), it might work. I know, I know, that's not a good strategy. I'm mainly just hoping that his behavior issues were a function of being stuck with age-inappropriate peers. Time will tell...


John Spencer said...

I know this sounds lame and preachy of me, but sometimes "last chance" kids do the best. I used to love accepting kids who were kicked off other teams, because they typically wanted a fresh start. It just seemed to work well.

On another note, his experience is exactly why I don't believe in holding kids back. Even if a kid failed every single assignment, missed half the year, etc. keeping him back will not solve the problem.

Ross said...

I really don't like it when people tell me "how much of a problem" one of my residents or specific students on campuses are. I try not to listen to any of the stories because I don't want the opinions of others soiling my view of a student I have never seen, talked with, met, etc.

Are their experiences true? Of course, but attitudes and actions change. Students, teachers, and administrators all change from year to year, month to month, etc.

Sometimes behavioral issues can result from predetermined conditions. You know...the self-fulfilling prophecy.

You'll be the best thing to happen for your new student, on the other hand, maybe not. Only time will tell.