Friday, January 11, 2008

Make him pay

So there's a student of mine, the Magician, who is not going to PE right now. He's a very, very heavy young man and could really use PE. But he gets into a lot of trouble because of it because he is very embarrassed about his size, particularly when he has to change his clothes in the locker room (which we've found a way to work around, of course). So I've pulled him out of PE and given up a work period of mine so we can avoid that headache despite the fact that I think PE would be very good for him and that it's a requirement for students (though requirements can be waived in order to accommodate disabled students).

Today I got called out of a class I was working in to attend the weekly team meeting his teachers hold so they could complain to me to no end about his behavior. To be sure, they have plenty to complain about - he's a needy kid. Strangely, they were arguing for him to attend PE and I don't really get why. They say it's because he could really use it for his health. I don't buy their concern - perhaps it's loathing for his size? But one of his teachers is extremely overweight. I think they just want him to suffer a little because he's making them suffer. They'd like to see him get suspended so they'd have a break from him and they'd like to see him have to move to a new placement- which he would never qualify for because his needs are just not that extreme. Maybe I'm wrong about them and I really hope so but I can't imagine what else they're thinking.

I think that really difficult students traumatize us and we start to act like traumatized people. Just like them we use dysfunctional coping skills in order to deal with the "problem." Additionally, these students resonate and like tuning forks, when they start to resonate, so do we. It's so necessary that we interrupt this cycle because it's our job to work with all kids who come through our doors not just the ones that are easy to work with. Teachers who don't get that are going to suffer.

It's very easy for me to listen to their complaints and see how their responses are dysfunctional because he's not traumatizing me (for the most part). It's disappointing that they can't see this though. I expect we're going to be bumping heads all year. I imagine they will eventually become reconciled to the fact that even the Magician - with all of his disruptive, defiant and rude behaviors - deserves an education in a public school. How long will we have to wait though?

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