Note: this Log was started on August 30th, however I have been adding to it to cover several events that had happened over the past week, as well as for background information on relevant parties.
There is a twitchy, twitchy boy in my 4th period class. He's not bad or anything, but he has seemingly no impulse control. Based on his behavior and his constant lack of focus, I seriously think he might have undiagnosed ADHD. I'm not a professional ADHD diagnostician, of course, that's the SPED department's job and the school psychologist. But as someone who has actually been diagnosed with ADHD, some of the stuff he's doing looks really really familiar.
Maybe-ADHD kid gets a detention for disrupting class, and I ask him about why he's always moving around. I don't dig too deeply, but note down his answers and ask if he can try controlling himself more next time.
After, I start inquiring about the proper procedures for getting him checked. Apparently, there isn't a really definitive process because it's hard as balls getting highschoolers diagnosed. The idea is that it should've been done in middle school. The best I can do is send an email to one of the APs and CC the SPED department chairs, and the school psychologist with my concerns. This is way hard for me because I am paranoid about sending emails and talking on the phone and basically communicating.
I send an email out to Kid's other teachers asking about his behavior. Nobody responds.
I spent two hours drafting an email to the SPED/AP/Psychologist that I don't send, because I don't want to send until I get info from his other teachers.
Today is all of the fuck. A big ole heaping helping of fuck piled onto your lunch tray and served with piping hot fuck sauce.
So I had been loving the hell out of my 4th period class. They were perfect angels the first two weeks of school.
However, I got some new kids, and that changed the atmosphere of the place, and now I have Three Big Personalities.
Two of the Big Personalities are basically fine. It's poor impulse control, mixed with the fact that they're friends and the fact that they're both just loud, boisterous kids. Their stuff is just talking during don't-talk-time, walking over to visit each other on their way to sharpen pencils, mild roughhousing-- 9th grade boy stuff.
My other Big personality is scream-inducing. He has all of that, except multiplied tenfold. He is constantly moving in class and cannot control himself. he kicks his leg, taps his desk, dances in his seat, moves around, walks around, bounces, wriggles-- the kid cannot keep still. he also can't shut up. I've started a "weird noise" tally with him because he makes noises. not even talking, just weird gurgling, meeping, beeping, honking noises. He also has severe trouble focusing, forgets things immediately, needs constant reminders to stay on task, is easily distracted, and has triggered mood swings.
In other words, he's a 14 year old version of me, and probably has ADHD.
So those alone aren't so bad. However, today just fucking suuuucked.
To start, a girl in class had an asthma attack after Sustained Silent Reading (which was their 10 Minute Warm Up today) and she didn't have her inhaler. So the other kids immediately start getting loud and freaking out, and internally I'm freaking out, but I told them all,
"Hey, I want everyone to get out a piece of paper and write about what book you've been reading for SSR. We've done SSR a lot now, so tell me what book you've chosen or, if you change them, what books you've read and why you did/did not like them."
And the kids were all, "Seriously?"
And I, in my best customer service smiley voice was all, "Yup! I wanna see. Full paragraph format, 5-8 sentences."
So they did that, and I sent a runner girl to the office (before the writing assignment, I should mention). I moved asthma girl to the front where I have a loose desk near the phone area, and sat her down. Her throat wasn't completely closed, but she was having trouble breathing. I asked her f she had an inhaler, and she told me no. Another kid offered his up, but I set it aside because they tell us that is a Bad Thing To Do. But I thanked him. I called the office, mentioned there was a student who needed help, and then hung up and talked to Asthma Girl, sort breathing with her. Then the office called again because I had forgotten to say which student it was.
A few minutes later the principal and the catch-all student adviser show up and escort the girl out on a golf cart.
So I have the kids continue the paragraph writing because, dammit, when I say we're gonna write, we're gonna write. Then someone in the room coughs, and Potential ADHD Kid (or "MaybeHD" kid) makes a joke about being unable to breathe and choking to death.
I gave him the dirtiest look and said, "Really?" and wrote his name on the board for detention.
He immediately shut down. He had been manic before that, and after that he just put his head on the table and moped, and I'm still rattled from the Asthma Events, so I leave it. But then he says a swear word when he tries to get into his computer. The class knows that I don't allow inappropriate language in here. We were talking about the story we read, Sundiata, and what happened in it, and MaybeHD goes, "the gimp!"
So I put a check next to his name to compound the detention. He gets angry and says, "I don't give a fuck, I'm gonna ditch."
So I put another check for swearing.
Then his laptop won't let him login and he starts calling it retarded, even after I give more specific verbal warnings. He drops like 5 retardeds in a row, looking at me as he does, so I erase the checks off the board and start writing a referral because fuck this kid. I saw a kid potentially almost die, I am not in the mood. While writing the referral (which is done though an online document reporting system, not with papers), I noticed that the kid had no family contacts listed. No numbers, not even any guardians registered. In the referral, I wrote that I wanted to have Lunchtime detention with the student, and that I wanted his parents called.
A few minutes later, I get a phone call from the student advisor. The Student Advisor is not a student, he's the general go-to guy for All of the Things. He's part of the disciplinary team, he works with counselors, the school psychologist, and the social worker for helping kids get support for emotional issues, he's security-- he's the go-to guy. There are actually two student advisors, and I like the other dude, too, but this one is my favorite. So he calls and says, "Hey Ms. Ronias, what was the student's name and ID number? Your referral didn't say. Just email me the info, okay?"
And I'm like, well, shoot. I was so mad, I forgot to actually tell them the kid's last name.
So I go to my computer to send the email, and MaybeHD Kid was on his phone using the camera.
I am sorta paranoid about camera usage in my classroom. This is because of the woman who was fired before I worked there, the one whose room I was in my first year; one of the things that happened was that students would record themselves misbehaving in her classroom, and how she never actually handled it and basically looked really bad. So the rule in my class is no phones unless specified otherwise, and then they must be used only for music or (for my ELD class) for translating. I confiscated his phone, and he announced to everyone, "I'll get it back! I don't care. I'll get it back."
I admit, I was probably being overly sensitive. I'm the teacher, and I should've had more patience, maybe taken him to talk outside, maybe not have drawn so much attention to his behavior from the other students (because teenage boys can't stand to be humiliated in front of people. They have to double down like this kid was doing), but I was stressed and irritable and this kid was already the focus of my problems. I tried getting through the remainder of the lesson on plot diagrams, two other kids got detention for unrelated matters, and then I turned them loose for independent work (we had just read some short stories, so they had to plot map either Story of an Hour or Sundiata). MaybeHD kid just shut down. Head on desk, not doing anything. When I tried to get him to start working, he didn't respond, and the other kids were noticing his behavior and starting to goof off themselves. Because kids at the beginning of the year are always seeing how far they can go, and seeing how their teacher reacts to others doing the same.
I'd had it. I called the advisor and asked for a student removal. The advisor didn't even ask why. He came it, got the kid, and went to his office. Everyone else worked smoothly for the remainder of the period.
After 4th period, there is an hour called "Advisory" which is essentially a study hall. Kids can choose to do work in their current classrooms, or they can scan their ID cards and go into another teacher's classroom. Advisory is also the time where the school makes announcements and gives presentations. That day, there was a presentation on cyber bullying and safety on the internet.
The advisor came back with the student, remembering that I had wanted a lunch time detention, but had forgot it was advisory. He asked if I wanted the student in class, or if he should stay at the office. I let the kid in if he promised to be quiet, and he was for the rest of the presentation and advisory. When lunchtime rolled around, all three boys stayed in. Two for five minutes and a talking to, and MaybeHD kid for ten minutes and a talk.
I asked him about why he thought he was there, and basically walked him through the different disruptions he'd caused that had brought him there. He clarified that the choking joke wasn't meant to be about Asthma girl, and he hadn't even realized the connection until had looked at him all disgusted and written his name in the board.
I asked him more questions about his twitchiness and why he felt the need to move so much, and I asked him how well he thinks he focuses on class and stuff like that. I'm no psychologist, but as someone who has been officially diagnosed with ADHD, his answers were VERY familiar sounding, and I asked if he'd ever heard of it before. He said he had, and he thought it might be something he has.
I let him know that I'd contact the counselors about it and they could check him out to see if he really did or not, and at the very least they'd help figure out ways to best support his learning. We talked about the seating arrangement (I had moved him to the front and center so as to be able to redirect him more easily), and came to the conclusion that front and center had too much of an audience from the other kids, so now he's gonna sit at the front and to the side next to a friend of his who is on top of things and who will hopefully help him focus. He left, and while he was calm talking to me, I could tell he was irritated by the way he threw the door open.
So that all sucked.
Then, later that day, I had a meeting with a parent of one of the other boys who had gotten detention. The kid has a IEP, and the school had been slow in the draw getting it up and officiated, and Mom was concerned about her son getting the accommodations he needed. She and Son and Daughter came in, and we went over some of the accommodations she knew he was supposed to have (typical stuff: extra time, shortened assignments, sitting in front, redirects for attention, etc) and Son and I went into the computer and shortened an assignment right then and there (I asked him which were easy and which were hard, then cut the easy ones. My logic is that if something is hard for you, then that's the skill we should work on improving. We were supposed to have time Friday to work on it together, but that didn't happen so it's gotta be on Wednesday.)
During the meeting, she expressed her dissatisfaction that the school hadn't made teachers aware of the IEP since they had had the meeting the day before, and that she hoped she wouldn't have to bring her lawyer in like at the middle school.
For this next scene, keep in mind that I am sitting between Mom and Son (because Son came around to see my laptop so we could figure which problems to cut).
Me: So aside from that, I guess that's really it. Uh. He did have detention earlier--
Mom: Oh really?
Me: Yeah. I guess he and another boy in class are good friends, and they were chatting--
Mom: [BOYNAME] IS IN THIS CLASS TOO?!?!
Mom: You have him in three classes!
Kid: Four. . .
Mom: Plus football practice! I don't want to speak to another teacher and find out that you've been talking to him all period--
Kid: It wasn't all period!
Mom: It should be NONE of the period!
Kid left shortly after for football practice, and Mom confided in me that she was concerned Son shouldn't even be in English 1, but that she wants him to have a shot and see if he can keep up. If he doesn't by the end of the 1st grading period, she would see about him getting placed somewhere more fitting.
Despite the awkwardness of the situation, seeing this Mom really lifted my spirits. Last year, I went to a handful of IEP meetings, and often times it was impossible to get parents to attend-- which is a problem since they need to be there. Several times I, the counselor, the psychologist, and the student would be in the room waiting for a parent who never showed. I can't judge them, because in this area and this school, a lot of times parents have a dozen different jobs and are trying their best to support their kids. But it gets super disheartening hearing a student saying stuff like, "My mom's not gonna come. She always says she will, and she doesn't." Or having a meeting with the same parent canceled three or four times in a row day-of. So seeing this Mom, who was not only on top of things, but had sought me out, and was clearly a strong advocate for her kid and invested in her son's education was just so fucking refreshing. She asked me to contact her via email if Son ever started lagging behind, and I fully intend to do so. I am just stoked knowing that Kid has such a supportive figure in his life. That's something not all my students have.
Later that day, after I send my concern email to the AP, SPED, and Psychologist, one of the kids teachers finally responds and says kid has acted out in his class too (storming out of class after having his phone taken away, then kicking a desk when he was brought back).
Then later still, the advisor emailed all of MaybeHD kid's teachers, stating that Kid is having Home Difficulties, and that they managed to get ahold of Grandma, with whom kid is living. He said that Kid knows he gets weird little act-out stress triggered episodes, and that for now, while the counselor's figure out what to do, of Kid needs a time out, not even disciplinary ones but just to calm down, then to feel free to call Advisor and have him take the kid out of class to work. So at least Kid is getting some support.
Then the coup de grace of the the day: our principal sent out an email regarding some events on campus. A rough summary:
Student A is being escorted off campus with his mom.
Student B is loitering around and told to go to class by the advisor.
Student B shoves advisor. Principal is there and intervenes.
Student B shoves principal.
Principal bear hugs Student B and they both fall over.
Student A sees the fracas and runs over. He hits the principal in the head.
Principal gets up to address student A. Student B clocks principal.
Eventually both students are subdued and arrested.
Student A's mom faints and goes to the hospital.
Within the same half hour, some random dude with a stolen golf cart drives into campus. He arrives while the place is full of cops dealing with the aforementioned assault and battery students. He is summarily arrested.
So that was a day.
Friday is collaboration day and the classes are only a half hour long, and unlike other days that are on block schedules, we have all of the classes that day.
In my morning ELD class, I had three students removed and five new students to replace them. This is in tandem with the two students I had already gotten the day before. This means my entire lesson was fucking shot in the foot, and now I have to figure out how to get these new kids on the same page as everyone else four weeks into the semester.
Period four was. . . pretty good. MaybeHD kid was a little noisy, but it was a half hour class and, frankly, nothing important. He was fine, everyone else was fine. Nobody almost died of asphyxiation. It was fine.
I got a new PLC group for the year, and the weird thing is that even though I teach two ELD loads and only one English 1 class, and a colleague of mine has three English 1s and only one ELD load, she is still in the ELD PLC, and I am in the English 1 PLC. I sent an email to my boss asking if it made more sense that we switched, but haven't gotten a response.
My town is experiencing the worst heat wave we've had since. . . ever. Every day, I've gone out to the aviary to give the birds ice water, and all week, I'd been seeing a loose peachfaced lovebird hanging around our yard. She yells at me, then flies away when I try to get close. I put out dishes of food and water and hung them on the side of the aviary, that way she'd at least not die of starvation. Then, after a couple days, I got an old bird cage from the garage, hooked it to the side of he aviary with old clips from some old bird toys, rigged the door open, then put the food and water inside that. It took a couple days for her to get used to it, but I finally went out there one day and she was inside the cage. I go the bird net, got the bird, and finally got her inside the aviary. I checked Mickaboo and Craigslist for lost birds, but none matched the description.
So now we have a new lovebird.
The day before I caught the bird, when I was outside checking to see if the bird was around, I saw a white cockatiel. She looked miserable from the heat, and I spent a half hour trying to coax her down from the tree, but in the end she flew away. Because I knew there was a cockatiel hanging around, I left the birdcage hanging up and refilled the food/water, hoping the cockatiel would come back. Instead, the next day I found a small green-yellow parakeet.
I caught the parakeet and put her in the aviary, but she didn't do well there. I don't know how long she had been outside on her own, but it honestly looked like she had little birdy heat stroke, so I brought her inside. She currently is in the same car as Birb and the other cockatiels, and she seems to be doing a lot better. I checked around for her too, and again none of the lost birds match her.
I left the cage up still because, again, here was a cockatiel flying around. When I went to check the cage on Sunday, I saw no cockatiel, but I saw another lovebird, this one a Black-Mask lovebird. He didn't stick around and started screaming at me when he saw me. On Monday, he was hanging around in the tree, but not going near the cage.
Here's hoping I get him before the local hawk does.
I'm guessing that since it's been so hot, people have been opening their windows, and their birds have been getting out. Though none of the birds so far have been at all tame, so it might be other bird breeders losing their stock. In any case, we have more than enough room for them.
Also, one of our sweet baby Australorp hens (named "Tall Baby") has grown into a handsome rooster. We love him to bits (he has such personality!) but unfortunately, we can't have roosters, and he insists on crowing. Mow we are in talks with the people we bought him from to return him in exchange for another chicken, but we want to also make sure they're not going to eat him. If they don't have a humane place to put him, my mom's friend who owns a cattle ranch will take him, and we just won't get a replacement.
So I had sort of a stupid revelation this week.
On tumblr, I had been seeing funny little Relatable Posts (tm) regarding something called Executive Dysfunction. These were all hilarious to me and really struck a chord. Things like wanting to play a video game really badly, but being unable to get the motivation to do it, even as you sit right in front of the computer. Things about needing to physically go to the bathroom or do something, but being unable to get up from staring at the ceiling. or when you know you have to do something, and maybe you actually really really want to do it, but you just can't make yourself Do The Thing. Stuff like that. And they were hilarious, and of course I went "This is so me!"
But when I tried sharing it with my brother and sister, they didn't get it. I tried to explain it to them, and they had no idea what i was talking about -- which is unusual because normally we are all on the same page.
I texted Megan about it, and she also thought the posts were humorous and relatable, and totally understood.
So I actually looked up what Executive Dysfunction was. It's apparently the name for when the cognitive processes that control regulation, planning, organization, processing information, behavior control, and self-monitoring don't work to a significant and debilitating degree, and it happens in many mental disorders like schizophrenia and some forms of severe autism. it is also one of the three main symptoms of ADD/ADHD.
Which I have.
Which Megan also has.
So basically, whenever me and Megan talked about the "Blah feeling" of not being able to get up and do stuff we needed to do, or how sometimes our brains just Won't. Work. We had assumed that, since we both experienced this and validated each other's experience, it must be a common "everybody gets this way" thing. Nope. Turns out, it was our brains being fucky, and neither of us realized it.
This may seem really dumb and obvious to people. "Of course that is a symptom of ADHD, Zeph! That is literally the thing that is wrong with you!" But all this time, I just figured I was lazy and stupid? Like, I was just told all my life, "Yeah, you're gonna have trouble focusing and also it makes you move around when you're bored, and also get bored easy." Nobody ever mentioned, "Oh yeah, that feeling where it's like your body is literally betraying your brain by not doing what you're telling it to, and also your brain stops giving a shit about it part-way through is also part of ADHD."
It is weirdly liberating to know, "hey, this is not just laziness or a personal failing. This is actually part of my stupidly wired brain, and it has a name."