Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Rational Response Vol. 2

I got a new student two months ago that I'll call RB here.  RB came to us from a nearby district but it was quite some time before his file arrived.  This is worrisome with students who are in a behavior program because the behaviors can vary from "Why is she in a behavior program?" to "How is he not in residential care?"  So it's good to receive a file beforehand so we can have some idea of what is difficult for a student and know what sort of behaviors are typical.

Well, RB started without the file in hand and he did great:  completed classwork, participated in class, wasn't disruptive at all....pretty impressive.  Most students start at a new school like this so I knew it was just a matter of time before we saw what landed him in a behavior program.  Sure enough, after the first two weeks I noticed he had stopped handing in work.  Then I noticed that the reports of his excellent behavior were somewhat exaggerated- he didn't disrupt class but he also didn't really do much work.  He flew under the radar as it were.  And then I got his file.

The file noted that RB had been a runner at one of his schools.  By this I mean that when he got frustrated he would leave school and run away.  This is why it's important to have a file ahead of time -I would never have pegged RB as a runner and I hadn't planned on this possibility.  Thankfully, he hasn't run yet and says he doesn't do that anymore.  Instead - he just refuses to do work at times.  He has a hard time getting along with an educational assistant that is pretty much loved by all and has gotten himself kicked out of several classes for simply sitting there without even looking at the work he's been assigned.  RB also has some severe attentional issues.  When you're talking to him you can see his eyes glaze over after saying literally one word to him.  I'm not exaggerating here.  I've said, "RB," to him to get his attention.  He'll look at me and than before I can get the next word out he'll already have a far away look in his eye that I know now means he's not listening anymore.  

In sum, he has a history of running from and cutting school and being extremely disruptive and disrespectful.  He's currently refusing to do work (even with help from assistants, myself and his teachers and with modified work) and he's not making friends even with several students making friendly overtures.

Here's why this is rational:  his father has disappeared from his life as of a year ago, his  stepfather just left the family, his mother is completely disengaged from parenting, all three of his older brothers hit him at times, one of his brothers was removed for abusing RB and has just come back home, RB has received no counselling for what happened, the brother closest in age to RB (just one grade above him) does the parenting.  Refusing to care about learning pre-algebra or the Greeks seems really rational to me.  

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