Monday, November 3, 2014

I survived Halloween in the classroom.....and the teacher did too!

   If you have read my last blog, you might be wondering how Friday went. I'm happy to fill you in, kind and concerned reader.

    Friday was Halloween. Nixon's school may well be one of the last schools in the country, or at least that's the feeling I get when "talking" to friends with kids in other states/part of the country, that really celebrates Halloween in school. The flip side is, for a child like Nixon, who really needs routine and structure to thrive, this is not as awesome a thing as you'd think it might be. There was to be a parade, special snack time, lots of crafts in the classroom and (as if that wasn't enough) it was a 2-hour early dismissal day! It was like the perfect storm for a tantrum.

    I was asked to come join Nixon in the classroom for the day, to maybe help him deal with all this a little easier. Apparently, as his mom, I have a superpower. Or at least the school administrators seem to think I do.

    We arrived and Nixon, right away, was given an assignment: color by words. A bat. Nixon could see it was a bat and wanted to color it, as a bat should be colored. He get upset when his teacher instructed him (then walked away) on what the first work/color was. I helped him with the rest of the words/colors until it was complete. He sat at the teacher's desk  ("your special seat") while working on it. When it was completed he showed it to her, and they read a "this is how I need to behave in class" book together. This is just for Nixon. In theory, it sounds like a good idea. Except that the rest of the class is now playing and Nixon, who had just completed his work, wants to play too. The book was about 6 pages long and when it was done Nixon was able to play. But just as he was getting ready to play, it was time to get ready for reading time.
    *Now, right here, I was doing well. Nixon was trying to introduce me to his friends and also getting ready to enjoy the book. Nixon LOVES, motherfucking LOVES books! Need him to sit down and still for a spell? Read him a book or even hand him a new book.*
    Nixon was sitting in his spot, criss cross applesauce even, waiting patiently.Let me tell you, this momma, was SO proud!

    Then the teacher's aid entered the class and Nixon got up and ran to the computer station. What the what?!?
     The aid turned on the computer and started a Dr Seuss reading game for Nixon to do while the rest of the class did announcement time and got the class assignments (line leader, messenger (Nixon), and caboose). Nixon missed all this because he's not a part of the class at this point. When his time was up, Nixon got pissed. The game is super fun and Nixon wasn't ready for it to be over. He ran away and started screaming!
     The aid was talking to him and he ignored her. SO, I stepped in and did a hold/hug that Franny showed me. He still fought me, but in less than a minute of my calm voice and the hold, he asked to join the class and earn more computer time. The class watched a fun Magic School Bus video and Nixon did too, from the computer chair.

     Pretty soon it was the parade time. Nixon had no trouble getting dressed in his costume and was ready for the parade. He got annoyed when the other kids were still getting ready. SO he got extra computer time to keep him calm. (NOT my idea.....)
     Soon it was time to line up....and wait. Again.
Doesn't he look excited?!? He's pretty annoyed right here. Just wants everyone to move!
     We survived the parade, he loved watching all the other kids walking and telling me what costumes he saw!

     The rest of the day was much the same. Nixon had very little interaction with his teacher at all. The aid, who really is wonderful, rewarded Nixon far too quickly with computer time which resulted in more yelling when it was taken away. I used the hold/calming voice on him once more, just to get him to do 2 crafts.
    They had snack and lunch quickly, then after lunch (which Nixon is apparently removed from before the rest of the class is dismissed to give him some more computer time, if he's earned it) was pretty much a free-for-all. There was free play. I loved seeing Nixon playing with his peers. He's got such an imagination that some of the kids just can't keep up, but the ones that can just had a ball with him!
   He was playing in the "housekeeping" area. It's got a play kitchen and baby dolls. Nixon has, in the past, put a baby doll in the microwave "To make her grow up faster". This upset some of the kids so Nixon was reminded (frequently reminded, by both teacher and classmates) that the baby does not go into the microwave.
    *I don't know, I kind of like his logic of using the microwave to age the baby. I think it's an awesome pretend play!*

     There was a lot of screaming and whining and tattling, from all the kids. Nixon does screaming in the structured part of class, but I saw none during recess or free play.

     I need to say this. Teachers are not appreciated enough! I went home just WIPED OUT! The noise, the number of kids, the level of zapped me! You teachers who do this on the hat's off to you!

     My biggest issue is: Nixon didn't really seem to be given a chance to be part of the class. Even during his free play, he had a separate box of toys to choose from. These were learning tools he uses daily but he went to them first. My impression is he's around the class but not a part OF the class. The fact that he isn't even given an opportunity to sit with the class, when he's obviously willing to do so, at the beginning of the day, was bothersome. Even the other kids called his name when the aid walked into the class, because THEY know he's not going to be doing the work with them! How sad is that?!? Perhaps I'm being overly sensitive, but how is he supposed to learn how to work in the classroom with his peers if he's not actually given the chance to be a PART of the class?!
    The aid showed me all the tools they use for Nixon, learning wise. The teacher spoke to me, but not once about Nixon! I emailed her last Wednesday evening, about the hair/scissors situation...I'm still waiting for a reply.
     I spoke to her about a fight Nixon told me about. (He said he saw 3 boys fighting at recess and how he told his teacher about it. They lost 5 minutes.....5 fucking minutes!!....of recess for fighting! But Nixon loses an entire fucking day for pretend play?!?!) She says "Oh yes, they were play fighting and Nixon misread it. We broke them up, because even play fighting is not okay. Their teacher put them all in Time-Out for the remaining time of recess." I asked her how Nixon responded to that. Sh says "Oh, he seemed fine. Even went to the boys during the time out and told them fighting is wrong and they should be friends."
     Then she walked away from me to talk to her grademate teacher.

    Am I wrong for freaking the fuck out over this?!? If there hadn't been over 40 kids around us, I'm pretty sure I'd have lost my shit! How is play fighting different from playing barber?! So Nixon lost an entire day but these boys loss 5-mutherfucking-minutes of recess??

     These are things I will bring up at our next meeting with the admin. In the meantime, I did suggest to the aid, that the Dr Seuss game be a reward he can earn and not a just-because/busy work tool. I was not happy with his behavior when he could no longer play that game. He was also very strict about the caboose staying at the back of the line, even if there were slower kids, and he made it known that the "Caboose stays behind everyone!". *sigh*
Parade selfie!

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