I have a student who has TREMENDOUS energy. He isn't really a behavior problem in the classroom. Well, what I mean is that he isn't fresh. He isn't intentionally malicious but he is A LOT to handle. (This is true in the classroom but not exactly true in other environments.) First, he is constantly on the move. He never stops. His body is in constant motion. He dances around the room and because of this he has a HUGE presence in the room. He is also fairly destructive. He ruins stuff. For example, he pulls apart erasers and even pencil top erasers. It is only October and his notebooks are already a mess. He just shoves things in his desk. As a result, some of the corners are torn off, pages are wrinkled. They actually look like March notebooks or maybe May notebooks.
This kid has a really difficult time focusing on any task. If he is to accomplish anything, I have to be in very close physical proximity to him. He works best when he is afforded the option of working one on one with an adult. This is sort of frustrating because this kid is so smart. He is capable. I wish he could focus but he can't! During one of our #classroombookaday sessions, we were reading a book about a kid who struggled. My student shared that he used to struggle to pay attention and that he used to take a medicine for that but that it is no longer needed. Hello, what? I think it might still be needed. Just saying!
Actually, I just really want this kid to be successful. The truth is, he is quite smart. I can always rely on him to make the deepest, most compelling connection to any literature we read. He has remarkable number sense. He is amazingly articulate. English is his second language. He is definitely struggling in some ways. His oral reading is a real challenge. I'm not sure if he struggles with reading fluency and accuracy because English is his second language or because attention is such a struggle. What is notable however is that despite the interruption in his fluency, his comprehension is surprisingly intact. When I can get him to actually put words on a sheet of paper, his writing isn't half bad. His spelling isn't even terrible. However, he requires so much teacher attention in order to attend to any task.
His impact on his classmates is something I'm concerned with too. While I am sometimes surprised at how little his behavior seems to distract other kids in the classroom, he is not always the kindest boy. For example, if the kids are seated on the floor and he can't see the board, he'll start ordering kids around and attempting to direct traffic. It doesn't occur to him that he could just move his own seat. Things get really ugly when there isn't adult supervision. The playground, the bus, the cafeteria, places where there is less structure and more freedom, are places where this kid becomes something like a tornado. During these less structured times, he can become downright mean. He has a way of seeking out the most vulnerable kids and putting them down. What he says to them is hurtful. He knows just how to get at kids. His words are harsh. I can't imagine being his bus driver. I can't turn my back on him for a minute. I just can't imagine driving a bus and having to have my back turned the whole time!
However, today, he was absent. It is wild when he is out. I can't believe the time that is freed up to spend with other children. I know that fair isn't every child getting the same thing. Fair is every child getting what he or she needs. But when this kid is present, he gets more than his fair share of my attention. Other children, who really need my attention are neglected. When they are neglected there isn't an impact on the whole class. When this single child isn't attended to, everyone suffers. This just isn't fair. But today, everyone got what he or she needed. At the end of the day, I hustled off to the supermarket and bought some groceries. I picked my daughter up from field hockey and went home where I made a really nice dinner for my family. I sat in my living room and did school work for a few hours. I wasn't completely wiped out like I am most days.
I wish there was something I could do to change this situation. It is terrible for the students in my class. It is not good for me. It is especially bad for this boy. I feel rather powerless. This is going to be a challenging conversation at parent-teacher conferences. I really hope his parents come.