Saturday, May 28, 2011

Deciding To Homeschool part 6 "The Public School Years" 4th Grade

A TALE OF THREE TEACHERS
AND A BULLY. 

Wow! Part 6?..Really!?!..Who knew it was going to be this long of a saga!?!

Alright..here we go..if you've been reading my story, you know the drill by now..we went to orientation..warned the teachers..yadda...yadda..yadda. Only this time we told them about the evaluation, and that if they felt a need, we were more than willing to pursue getting Padawan diagnosed/labeled further...

Padawan's 4th Grade teacher, (I’ll call her Mrs Wonderful) was VERY organized. She had a system all worked out that I really loved. It seemed to work great for Padawan too- for the most part.

She had the students fill out job applications during the first week of school, and then she hired them to do jobs such as Lighting Technician, Line Leader, Door Holder, Clean Up Crew, and gave them fancy titles. Each job came with a paycheck of “play money” at the end of the week, and the students would pay for the “rent” of their desk and could buy things from her store. She also used a fine system for behavior.

Padawan reluctanly filled out his application for Lighting Technician..the simplest and least attention getting job. He was good at it too! As good as any child could be turning the lights and the television off and on at the appropriate times.

And she didn’t....

assign....

duhn...duhn...duhn...

HOMEWORK!!!

The best part about Mrs. Wonderful was that she had a teenage daughter who was very stubborn too, and she knew how to choose her battles. She made a distinction between Padawan’s behavior and his work habits. She always assured us that Padawan’s behavior was good, but his work habits were horrible. I was beginning to wonder if she was teaching the same immature student that the other teachers had so many behavior issues with.

Something about her method was really working with Padawan. She let us know all the time that she and Padawan had a good working relationship. Not only that, she sent home graded papers every Friday stapled together with a slip of paper on top listing any missing work or comments for the parents! This was awesome! I was taking mental notes, and even incorporating some of her methods at home. Things were looking up!

Or were they?...

Every story has to have a villain....

Or two...

Right?

So, needless to say, the co-teacher (I’ll call her Mrs. Too Strict), who was there 3 days a week, was another story. She was a dictator type, and she had a higher degree than Mrs. Wonderful. This didn’t sit well with Padawan that Mrs. Too Strict let it be known that she had a higher degree than Mrs. Wonderful.

Mrs. Too Strict didn’t choose her battles, so everything became a battle- not only with Padawan but with many of the other students too. This caused Padawan to not really pay attention to the subjects that she was trying to teach him. Mrs. Wonderful could even see where the problem was between Mrs.Too Strict and Padawan, but she explained that it would have been unprofessional for her to say anything to the other teacher about her methods. I agreed.

As the year progressed I was still getting a few emails here and there because of behavior, but not like some of the previous years. I was beginning to think that maybe this school thing might not be so hard after all.

Until....

One day, I got a phone call from the PE teacher. She had had the privilege of teaching Padawan since Kindergarten 2-3 days a week. I had received a few phone calls from her in the past and discussed Padawan’s stubbornness and personality traits with her. In the earlier years, she seemed like a really nice lady who cared about Padawan, but as the years progressed I began to realize that was just a front- she could no longer hide how she REALLY felt about Padawan.

Well, on this occasion, she had called to let me know that Padawan had refused to do his sit-ups with his partner and that this was NOT the first time he had refused to cooperate in PE.

Ummm...

At this point I’m thinking... 

Didn't I already know this last part?.. 

I was also thinking that I had told her more than once to let me know as soon as there was a problem rather than letting it go on and on...and I had also told her to do what she felt necessary and I would back her up.

What more can a mother do!?!?!

I had not talked with the PE teacher since I discovered that a lot of Padawan’s quirks etc, were typical of children on the Autism Spectrum. So, I took this opportunity to explain all this to her and I let her know that we were trying to find out the best way to go about getting him evaluated if it became necessary.

I told her I would ask Padawan when he got home from school what the deal was, but if I had to guess, it was because something had overwhelmed him or it could be due to the fact that Padawan does not really like to be touched by other people. She said (in her scary PE teacher tone of voice) that she would fix that! She would just have Padawan do his sit-ups alone from then on.

When Padawan got home I ask him about the email and why he didn’t do his sit-ups. He told me that Jabba (a giant of a boy- who was also the class bully) was holding his feet down with his knees instead of his hands and pressing really hard. He said that he asked Jabba to quit, over and over, but Jabba did not.

Happy that I got to the root of the problem, and that my suspicions were mostly right, I promptly emailed the PE teacher to let her know what was what was going on. She rudely replied that the problem was taken care of and she was just going to let him do his exercises alone like she said.

(Ok, maybe she didn’t really rudely reply- but that’s how I took the tone of her typing)

Jabba was always doing things to annoy and bully Padawan and the other kids in the class and even other adults- including my husband when he went to the school to have lunch with Padawan.

One day, Jabba sprayed spit on Padawan as they were walking back to class from the lunchroom! I found this out when Padawan came home from school and immediately ran for the shower. I was not happy!

I emailed Mrs. Wonderful to tell her about this and the incidence in PE. I asked her to please make sure that Jabba and Padawan stayed away from each other since I only knew half the story.

(I always made sure I let the teachers know that I knew my child wasn't perfect and there are two sides to every story anytime there was an incident. I didn't want to be one of THOSE parents)

Mrs. Wonderful let me know that she could not do much about it when they were out of her sight in the lunchroom. That was handled by the monitors, and as far as PE went,I would have to talk to the PE teachers. YAY ME.


I did get to meet Jabba at field day. This 4th grader was well over 5 feet tall and as big as a linebacker! He also looked to be bi-racial, and I’m not so sure if he was supposed to be a grade or two ahead. (I just thought I should mention that Mrs. Wonderful was all of 5 feet tall – if that much.) It was a funny sight to see the two of them next to each other.


The thing that surprised me the most when I saw Jabba during Field Day was,that I did not see him as the bully that I had heard so much about from my husband and Padawan. I saw him as a misunderstood child...so different from the other kids.. I don’t think he knew how to fit in. So, the Mom in me felt a little sorry for Jabba.

That day I also watched Padawan as he interacted with the other kids during the Field Day Activities
With my new eyes...

Filled with all that I had learned...

About Autism Spectrum Disorders...

And he too, appeared to be different than most of them...
in a different way than Jabba

And like he wanted to fit in...

And interact with them...

But just couldn't get it quite right...

My memory is fading on the other parts of the school year. It must have been pretty uneventful. Padawan exceeded standards on all the Standardized Tests, and his grades were all over the place as usual.  He still had his best friend from Kindergarten that he talked about everything Lego with, and he had made a couple of new sort of friends.

And Padawan had learned all kinds of ways to say curse words with out really saying the word.

At home Padawan had taught was trying to teach me all about Lego Star Wars and how to tell the difference between Rare, Common, and Vintage Lego Minifigures on Ebay. But in this case, I just couldn't get it quite right.

SUMMER was here once again! In June, Hubby found a JOB!! And life was looking UP!

Things were getting back to the way they should be.. RIGHT?

Don’t kid yourself!


Stay tuned for the dramatic conclusion of this saga... 5th GRADE!


To be continued...

Part 1- Accidental Homeschoolers
Part 2 - PreK and K 
Part 3- 1st & 2nd Grade
Part 4- 3rd Grade
Part 5
Part 6- 4th Grade

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