As first weeks go, it was a pretty good week. The air conditioning was installed in my office and Minerva’s work area, tick; the acting Principal whom we all love, has been offered the role permanently and he has accepted, tick; and it turns out it is a nine week term, not a ten week term as I though, tick!
I have four learning support students in my ICT class, one boy has a behaviour file about three inches thick from his primary schooling and was suspended last term for using the “f word” towards me in the playground, but he actually worked really well in the first class. He was absent for the second class, which from his class mates comments is fairly regular. The other boy has ASD and school refusal, but last week he came to school every day until 1pm so that was pretty encouraging for his support team. He is very bright, but can’t always distinguish from his fantasy world and reality. The only spark of excitement I garnered from his was when we played a “what if” in the last few minutes of the class and my question was “What if you had a time machine, what would you do? What would you take with you?” His reply was a rather disturbing reply that included violence and guns.
I have noticed this as a tendency in many of the Learning support males, a fascination with violence and guns. Perhaps those of you with more experience in this area can provide why our brains take us on this tangent sometimes when we are ASD. The fact that he doesn’t always distinguish reality and imagination must be a real concern for his parents as he grows older.
Another student wanted to go back in time and stop his parents marrying, or failing that, having sex. Deep issues there also. It is amazing how brutally honest these children can be in the classroom.
Thursday wasn’t the greatest day, in fact it sucked all around. I came home and drank a glass of scotch. We are a private school and we have a uniform. Until this year, the idea of actually wearing the complete uniform appeared to be a notional option. The previous administration was more of the opinion that “well, at least they are at school.” The new administration is more “respect for your uniform is respect for your self, and setting the right mindset to learn” which I follow also. I know it is the old catholic girl school in me! Though to be honest I went to a government high school and our uniform was policed very severely.
So, students and parents were given lots of warning of need correct uniform, no crazy hair colours, no facial piercings, no jewellery. They were asked to see admin if uniform was an issue and the school would actually supply missing items if there was financial hardship, as we have always done. SO back to school and the fun started. Those not adhering to the policy was segregated to a large room at the back of the library for the day, unless their parents came with the correct uniform or collected them. They were not allowed out at the same break times as the rest of the school, total separation. The first day was about fifty students.
The second day, there were eight and that is where suddenly it became my job to supervise them. So I spent the day in the glass room with the students venting at me. They knew it was not my rule but that I certainly supported it, but that didn’t stop them from arguing with me, or trying to present their side as victim. One girl was angry she had to take out her new nose piercings, that “give me confidence” – piercings that she had fully aware that she was not allowed to wear them any more. More than one became very concerned that they were missing out on lessons and class works… never happened before we these students, believe me. Well, enough said, none as blind as those who will not see or listen, but by the end of the day I was emotionally exhausted. Hence the need for a drink.
I spoke next day with one of the teachers who has student welfare as a large slice of his job and he said he often goes home and drinks a bottle of wine. My day was small stuff to his normal day, but he does such a fantastic job. He and his wife are off to Ireland next year for a life change, he is just thirty and already burnt out by teaching, and the school will miss him dreadfully. I will miss him.
One week down, another 8 to go!