Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Reluctant Refusal?

I could tell this was going to be an "interesting" day of subbing. First of all, the A/C wasn't working at 7:20A.M. and it was already 90 Degrees. I reported it to the office and a custodian came almost immediately and reset the thermostat.

It appeared that this 1st grade teacher had been absent the previous Friday of this long, holiday weekend. So there were notes from the previous sub and they weren't that good. A challenging class? Another thing I noticed was all the "systems" set up for misbehavior and how to warn, punish and report same. I'm just not into that as a sub. Fourtunately, there were only 20 on the roll sheet and one was absent. Another one left within the first hour for a doctor's apt. and never came back. This shouldn't be too work my magic and apply my "bag of tricks" right? Wrong.

First we had a very "helpful?" take-charge student who came in and started to tell me how to do all the routines and what to do if certain kids didn't cooperate. He seemed very intelligent and communicative. He wasn't mentioned in the lesson plans or notes as a leader or helper. Oh well, role with it...right? Not quite. Pretty soon I started to question his motivations.

The principal came on the intercom as usual and this time announced the wrong day. i.e. Monday instead of Tuesday. He then gave the "word of the week" for "Primaries" (K-3) as "necessary" He wanted kids to use it in a sentence and memorize its spelling. Our class, to a child, didn't know what it meant. I suggested, "It was necessary to know the day of the week. I wrote it on the board. The principal then announced the birthdays for the week and told them to come to the office for a "gift". Suddenly, my gung-ho student said his name had been called and he wanted to go off to the office. Some of the other kids disagreed but, what the heck, I let him go. When he came back we were singing a group song (listening to me sing mostly). I think he wanted us to sing to him (Happy Birthday) At the time, I didn't think it was appropriate since there was some disagreement.

The next large group assignment, and they all were, asked to do the next pages in a workbook they each had. Most were content with that and went ahead. He came up and said his booklet was complete and he had nothing to do and he wanted "free time"...this is a percocious 1st grader, indeed. I checked over his work and spotted some incomplete pages and lack of color-coding. He went back and quickly remedied that. Obviously, he was way ahead of the others.
As I was helping others, he went back, on his own and got out some shapes, puzzles and locking blocks and started to construct, with another student...without permission. I probably would've let him if he had asked. "Sorry, back to your seat, not now. It is almost time for P.E. and Recess." This is held early (9:15-9:45A.M.) because of the heat index. He was not a "happy camper" and reluctantly obeyed.

He hung back in our lesson planned P.E. activity. Obstacle Course "follow the leader" over the "Big Toy" (a gigantic piece of multiple climbing/sliding equipment) I noticed there were several who were "afraid" of sliding down the poles or climbing up the curved-pole steps. I helped them and they were encouraged, egged-on, by their peers. Most of the little girls were "little monkeys". We had some time before recess, so I introduced the "swinging contest" with the 8 swings available. They liked that, but several didn't have a clue on how to pump. Again, our "star student" was reluctant and not wanting to "take direction". I ignored him.

On our way back from recess in the heat they wanted to stop for drinks. OK, maybe less requests to leave the room later, I thought. I did my usual "drinking fountain timer rhyme":

"One, two, buckle my shoe...(you're done)
Three, four, shut the door...(you're done)
Five, six, pick up sticks...(you're done)
Seven, eight, lay them straight...(you're done)
Nine, ten, a big, fat hen...(you're done)"
(Start over)
They loved it. But the body of the class had gone ahead, lined up by the door and gotten into "trouble" from the next door teacher for excessive noise. Mr. Reluctant was involved it that.
From then on, he refused to do anything. First he had an "eye ache". I suggested he just cool down, relax, put his head down. Then it went into a "headache" and "stomach ache". More refusal to do work that had been so easy before. "Did you hurt yourself at recess?" "Yes." "How?" "I don't know." So, I had my student aide take him to the office to be checked out. They came back, asking for a "note" from me. No problem.
In 10 minutes, he was sent back, without a note. He continue to do nothing and lay around. I ignored him mostly but kept an eye on him. It wasn't long and he was asking to go home. No problem, I wrote the note and sent him alone. I peaked out the window, then door and saw him the heat. (our room is quite a contrast, almost refrigerated) "My you must not be very ill if you can run," I commented. He had forgotten his backpack. Later, when I went to the office on a break, he was still waiting there for his father to come.
Of course, I'm wondering if I couldn't have done something differently. I'm not his regular, sweet, female teacher. I'm assertive, even as a sub. I'm positive and tend to ignore potential trouble makers and tattle tales. But, I'm thinking there is more to this "reluctant refusal-er". He was acting like he "didn't fit" with the rest of the class, more advanced, verbally for sure. But also, he just didn't seem to want to try to participate once "his will" had been crossed. He wasn't wanting to deal with much "frustration"...which is also a sign of high intelligence, even at this age. (6 yrs. old) How are our schools still not working with these brilliant "little pyramids"? They've always been there. I think three out of four of my own were that way. i.e. low in frustration tolerance, demanding perfection, first time, or give up... Maybe his everyday teacher has already discovered a way to work with him, motivated him and keep him learning and growing. I hope so. RRR

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