Thursday, September 28, 2006

What a long, strange trip it's been....

I have a student in my lowest-tracked freshmen class. Her IEP is thicker than some of the dictionaries in my room...and I'm talking real Webster's dictionaries. She is bipolar, ADHD and has defiant disorder (and these are just the highlights of her IEP).

When we started out the year, her case manager and I wondered if she'd even make it past the first week. We were petitioning to send her to a facility better equipped to handle her. I had to remove her from class at least three times a week. She was rude and disruptive. She was hateful and said very nasty things in such a nasty tone. I was at my wits end.

Her case manager and I tried several different ways to get her to behave. We simply had no idea what to do because no one had ever really tried before. They simply said, "Oh, that's ED." CM and I decided we would/could not put up with that behavior.

I'm not sure what finally changed her behavior, whether she realized she wouldn't get away with it or what, but she's a new student. To walk into my classroom, you'd never know that she was kicked out on a regular basis at the beginning of the year. She's even helping me plan a unit for next semester.

I've recieved several compliments from teachers who knew this girl over at the middle school. They've said she's changed completely, and they're convinced a lot of it has to do with me. I'm not saying I haven't gone above and beyond what was asked of me with this girl because I know I have. I go down on my prep to visit her (because half her day is spent in a contained classroom with CM). We sit and just talk. I've convinced her to join the Speech team, as I'm an assistant coach. I eat lunch with her occasionally and such. But I can't take credit for her behavior. She's learning to make better choices.

Anyways, the point of this post is, she wrote me a letter the other day...left it on my desk for me to find. (She likes to leave notes on my desk for me for whatever reason). It's not so much what the note says, as who it's from. But it's something I plan to treasure. I was shocked to recieve it and even more shocked to note who it was from. I had tears in my eyes when I read her signature in the bottom because I simply cannot believe how far she's come. I could not possibly be more proud of this girl.


Ms. H said...

HOLY COW!!!! I can't believe you're going to tell that INCREDIBLE story, and NOT tell me what the note said!! That's just mean! ;)
You know...if you're not feeling comfortable with posting it, you could always send excerpts to your "peeps" via email. (hint. hint.)
Seriously though, you should be proud of what your efforts have helped to bring about. I truly believe that sometimes 'bad' behavior is nothing more than a kid saying "I need someone to challenge me." It's up to us to set limits and expectations that they can work toward. (And we can't forget the relationship/rapport piece, which makes it allllll possible.)
Good show, AT!

Bex said...

aww, that's wonderful! congrats on truly making a difference :)

Anonymous said...

Super! That is why we teach. You are making a difference. Do ya wanna come work some miracles with a couple of my kids, that I am not getting through to?

Seriously that is great and those moments are the moments we live for in this business

Anonymous said...

Way to be! That would make me feel great. I should remember this post when I have the Applied grade 9s next term--sit and talk with them.

Dennis Fermoyle said...

AT, I have always believed that the student himself or herself deserves most of the credit or blame for his or her own success or failure. The teacher can only provide the student with opportunities. That's my theory! I think you have just demonstrated that sometimes you've got to take those theories and throw them right out the window. Congratulations!

M said...

I think you did something for that student that noone else has bothered to do. You cared. She needed it.

Brookelina said...

I love that story. To have a kid like that write a I teach first grade, and I always say - couch the discipline with love - and you get results. Well done.

I'm so blogrolling you. I love teacher stories!

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

That is a wonderful story. Keeps ya getting up in the morning, no?