Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Summer Recap

So the first month of school is in the books so I figure it's about time to recap the summer school experience. After all, why wait until the last minute? :-) First, this year summer school was much smoother than before. We really had only two students who were considered disruptive and only one more students who caused any real trouble after that. So over all, it was quiet. But here is what I learned.

Students who are in trouble with the law and receive positive reinforcement from their peers, often seek additional altercations with law enforcement. I don't think you have to be a PhD in Child Psychology to know that, but it was clearly evident at summer school. One of the two disruptive students was required to attend summer school as a condition of his release from juveniles detention. He sauntered into the Media Center the first day and with a wry smile greeted me since I had known him from previous school business. I may have looked surprised to see him there but I did my best to smile and welcome him to school. I don't know if I was good at hiding my surprise or not. I took a minute to walk over to him to find out how things were going with his life and he gave me the abridged version. He quickly described to me his dealings with police and judges and said how proud he was that he has six cases pending against him. I don't know if he noticed my sadness but having known this boy one-on-one in school before, I thought he had a chance to make it. Granted it wasn't a big chance but I guess I am an optimist. Shouldn't that be a good thing? When he explained he had to come here because of his probation, I told him I was hoping it would be a good summer for him.

Within a week he was obviously bored and not interested in doing the work. The teacher who was in charge of his instruction tried many times to get through to him but his apathy continued to increase. Finally he became somewhat beligerant to the teacher and she had no choice but to write a referral. Of course, she knew that was what he wanted. Even though the boy didn't pass his classes, he had a masters degree in street smarts. At the principals office where I was stationed, we talked to him about what he wants to get out of summer school and how we can help him be successful. So we did our part to play the role we were assigned. We all saw the writing on the wall that the boy would keep pushing until he left us no choice but to remove him from school. It didn't take long before he started using the "F" bomb and making personal attacks on the admininstrator.

So I had the privilege to walk him out of the building - because he lived within walking distance. But he refused to leave the lobby area. The summer school administrator was just down the hall and heard his opposition and pulled him back into the office to see if he could coerce the young man to straighten up - since he wasn't willing to leave school. Some more beligerance and finally we called the police to have him removed. In an almost comical display of attention grabbing showmanship, the boy put out his hands for the officer to "slap the cuffs" on him. The officer tactfully negotiated with the boy to willingly come with him and be dropped off at the closest house with supervision.

My biggest concern is that it is easy to education students who put forth the effort and try their best. But how do we reach the kids who have resinged themselves to showing off for their mates by getting into trouble with the law? How can we meet the NCLB with someone who knows the game well enough to do the things he or she needs to do to get kicked out?

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