My mad problem solving skillz (I hope)

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm having to deal with behavior that's not changing because I haven't figured out the root of the problem yet.

I have this kid in my eighth period - the Antagonizer. I wrote briefly about him a while back when he tried to start a fight two different times on his first day at school. His first freakin' day! On his third day, our school resource officer took him to a local youth detention facility. It's not precisely juvie, it's sort of part intervention and part deterrent, and he's on a contract with them now. Which theoretically SHOULD be helping. And yet.

The Antagonizer is low, academically. Very low. But he's also a cool kid, and he doesn't want his friends to know that he struggles as much as he does. So rather than admit he needs help, he plays the class clown. Sings, makes noises, talks, tells jokes, asks to go to the bathroom or to get water...does anything and everything to keep from working.

He and I have a good relationship. I know that. He's told other teachers that I'm his favorite teacher, and he called me three times after school on Friday to give me updates on time and location for a football game of his that I went to today (and had he not called, I would never have found the game, so I really appreciated that). (Interestingly, his team was playing RB's team - but now they get along, so no more obnoxious posturing, which is nice.)

And that's part of why I'm finding this so frustrating. I'm not used to having a good relationship with a kid and having them STILL undermine my class at every opportunity. My connections with kids are my greatest strength (I think), and that normally pays off. And maybe it's paying off a BIT with the Antagonizer as he's not quite as incredibly obnoxious as he was a few weeks ago, but he still will not sit down and attempt to do his work.

I've spent a looooooooot of time thinking about why over the last few days, and I have a number of theories. First, his spelling is atrocious, and he knows it, and it really stresses him out. He freezes and refuses to do anything when he doesn't know how to spell a word. He also struggles with processing and has a hard time coming up with anything to write about. In addition, he's a very athletic kid and I have him right after gym (in a class that's a bit of a disaster [we keep hearing that 7th period gym is totally out of control]), and he's all wound up when he gets to me.

So three possible roots. And now my possible solutions.

For the spelling, I've emphasized time and again that spelling isn't being graded, but I'm thinking he needs a personal Quick Word Dictionary for his common errors AND that perhaps if he circles the words he doesn't think are spelled right, then I can spend a minute or two with him after he's done some writing and can help him correct those.

For the processing, I think he's an oral processor, or at least he sure does loooooooove to talk. So I'm thinking we'll try having him talk through his ideas verbally before he tries to get them down on paper. I'll have him do it with me for his quick writes, and maybe have him choose a partner for other writing.

And for the being ridiculously hyper....that one I'm not as sure about. The school's making some changes to that gym class at trimester, which may help. I'm also thinking we'll try coming up with some sort of signal that he can use to let me know he needs a brief break and I can let him go out to the hall for a minute to work off some energy as long as he comes back in and gets right back to work.

I sat with the Antagonizer's dad at the game today and ran through my theories with him - Dad agreed on all counts, so I feel like I'm on the right track. I'm not sure if my solutions will actually solve anything, but they're worth a try, yes? Because in the end, it's on me if my class is out of control.

(Photo credit to The Truth About.....)


"I'm a dreamer but I ain't the only one Got problems but we love to have fun" -K'naan, "Dreamer"

I teach eighth grade Language Arts at an urban school. My kids kick ass and will change the world. I want everyone to know.
Copyright 2009 I'm a Dreamer All rights reserved.
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