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Classroom Observations, 9/16

Posted Nov 21 2008 4:47pm
I stuck around to attend Kindergarten in the afternoon after the meeting on Friday. The Kid behaved pretty darn well in my presence. He took just a little redirection but mostly sat quietly, participated in class and completed his assignments.

What struck me in the classroom is that The Kid is definitely NOT the only spirited child in the classroom. With The Kid on good behavior in the presence of his mommy, I watched the other kids pretty closely. There is a Sir-talks-a-lot, L'il Wanderer (gets up and wanders about the room, looking at stuff, books, basically not paying attention to anything going on that he's supposed to be doing), The Scott Fargas (looks, exactly, like the bully from The Christmas Story and appears to be just as mean).

Then there is Chief. I am conflicted with this nickname, as Chief really is native american, but it's quietly been the nickname I've had for him for a long time. Chief went to The Preschool with The Kid, so we've known him for a year. Additionally, Chief's father looks a lot like Chief from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and is just as silent (further conflicting me on the nickname). Like his father, Chief is extremely tall (easily over four feet already), and is by all accounts a beautiful child (in the to-look-at way as well as the inner beauty that you can tell a child has by looking at him). Chief is very sensitive. He's prone to bawling and acting out as well. His mom and I have talked about Chief, and he's in behavior therapy. The Kid truly LOVES Chief. Chief is truly a very quiet, sweet kid. Except when he gets upset. Then all hell breaks loose.

Basically, The Teacher has her hands full. The paraprofessional seems not to do much to help. I couldn't help but dive in and work with the class. I was helping the kids stay on task during centers and during storytime. I redirected The Kid and Chief (because I knew them, I left the Scott Fargas kid to The Teacher, because he's kind of well, scary). It seems like a little positive redirection could go a long way in this class and I didn't see a whole lot of that going on. Perhaps the para can't do that? Maybe The Teacher has asked her not to? I don't know.

On the playground, the good day headed south. The kids were playing very nicely until it was time to line up. There are two kindergarten classes out at the same time. Teeny Tiny is in the other class, and I had to help him get in line because he was really mad about something. Perhaps the Karate Chops for breakfast had worn off. I got Teeny Tiny in line if not totally composed, and that precise moment, some random evil child ran up to Chief, hit him, and said, "You're a big fat baby!"

Chief was instantly inconsolable, stoking the fire of the random evil child, who continued to yell, "cry baby! cry baby!" over and over until I looked him in the eye and told him to get in line. Chief was crying so hard, Teeny Tiny started up again, and The Kid was getting into Chief's face to tell him that he was SO NOT a cry baby. The whole time, the para just kept walking them into the building. I thought hitting was totally against the rules! This is how bullies get away with their crap! They pick on the kids that already are the focus of the teachers, like, "oh, there he goes again..."

I had Teeny Tiny cracking up by the time he had to go to his classroom, but Chief was still crying, hard. I put my hands on his shoulders and asked him, Seriously, Chief, are you a baby? You're nearly as tall as me! He said No, between sobs. The Kid gave Chief a huge hug and said, "You're my best friend and I'm not friends with babies, you're a nice boy." This cheered Chief up enough to get over the cry-fest, and he went in to sit for "meeting."

The whole thing, I think, went completely unnoticed by The Teacher and The Para, until The Kid and Chief were back in the room, and The Kid was saying the stuff that got Chief to finally stop crying. Then, it was more of the same ol' "darn special needs kids aren't going straight to the carpet being compliant." It was slightly frustrating. Teachers can't catch everything, but they have to perceive that this is happening. Haven't they?
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