New to board

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by teachergirl, Nov 8, 2007.

  1. teachergirl

    teachergirl New Member


    I'm new to the board. I'm a teacher who has a student with ODD in one of my classes. He's in 6th grade, has been in a "conduct class" in earlier years but is not any longer. I am looking for ways to help this young man. Everything is a struggle. He cannot accept anyone asking him or telling him to do anything at all. His response is to yell, argue and say very ugly, degrading things. Today he asked to go see his regular classroom teacher, that it was really important that he do so. He does not typically thank you to get out of class so I agreed to let him go but also literally had 10 other kids also asking for help with this or that at the same time so I asked him to write the hall pass saying _____ to Mrs. _______ and the date and I thought he was going to explode over that. He finally did it when he realized I was letting him do what he wanted to do. Most of the time I ignore much of his behavior as I have close to 40 other students in the class. I could easily spend every single moment trying to get this child on task or dealing with his inappropriate comments, arguing etc etc. I'm afraid he will eventually hurt someone. I don't really want to be that someone! His mom is not having much success with him at home either and is not supportive of our efforts at school to help the child. She does not allow the father much input (and he seems to have the most sense about the whole situation). The principal asked if I could handle him remaining in my class and I said yes. I've seen what happens in another class that would be an option and it's not pretty. The child has been given a notebook to write down his arguments instead of voicing them. This starts tomorrow. I'm not too sure that this is going to work because he absolutely hates to write (won't write a hall pass for himself).

    So, how do you defuse situations where the child is angry, non-compliant, etc? How can we help him be successful at school and get passing grades when he refuses to do anything unless someone literally stands over him every moment and forces him to do the bare minimum?

    For his sake, my class' sake and my own sanity, please help!!

    Thanks so much,
  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    First off, welcome. And thank you for caring enough about your students to reach out. You may benefit from reading "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. It's a quick read that helps you learn how to deal with a chronically inflexible and argumentative child. In addition, there may be more going on with your student than simple ODD. There may be hidden learning disabilities, emotional or mood problems, neurological issues and difficulty transitioning. Unfortunately your hands are pretty much tied if the parents will do little to help the situation. Does he have any accommodations or supports in the classroom?
  3. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I agree with TM-get a copy of The Explosive Child. If writing is such a trigger would it have been possible to make a quick call to let the homeroom teacher know he was coming? (I know it might not be possible due to other teachers seeing him in the hall with-o a pass or even just with close to 40 students hard to get to the phone).

    I would find out his triggers and try to work around them as much as possible while still having high expectations (easier said than done I know)

    You're in a tough spot if the parents aren't supportive. It sounds like he needs an IEP so he can have some support in the classroom. I had a student last year that often made inappropriate comments, was loud, blurted, etc..... Luckily he knew I really liked him so unless one of his triggers were set off he would try hard but much of it was not in his control.

  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Iagree with The Explosive Child, but also recommend The website has much free info, the books are amazing and so are the tapes. Try the free audio download.

    If you can, go to a seminar, even the one day one. It has continuing ed credit and has TONS of info to help.

    I am so sorry you have to deal with this. If the parents will not have him evaluated then there is not much you can do. Is it possible an alphasmart would help him? It is a portable computer that he can type all his stuff on. MAny schools assign them to kids, they are pretty rugged.

    You have to do what is best for the entire class, you can't really focus on this child only. It is such a tough thing. I am not sure what evaluating the school can do if the mom won't agree and dad won't insist.


  5. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    You might want to check the Special Education Archives. I believe there is a thread there titled something like "ODD in the Classroom." It's an old thread so it'll be near the end of the Archives. Has some good info, though.

    Welcome. :smile:
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Good on you, everyone, for suggesting the book. Teachergirl, you found today one of the principles of that book. You can also look online and find some useful info about how it works. If possible, get the family on side and maybe any other teachers you feel would be open to it. It is a technique which you should be able to use with other kids too, including easy child kids, because it is teaching self-determination (in the long run). Sometimes these kids are desperate to have some control in their life, and if it really isn't going to matter to you to let him have something he's desperate for, then you can generally use it to show him you really want to help.

    And you're right - if you had kept blocking him (which is the instinctive thing to do) he wouldn't have got any work done anyway, and it would have been more disruptive to you.

    Example: my difficult child 3 is autistic and does a form of home schooling, one in which he has teachers in a school in the city on the other end of the phone, for other students like him. He's very perseverative - if he's fretting about something, such as his pet bird needing fresh water, he simply can't settle to do his work. I save more time by letting him go fix whatever-it-is and then getting him more happily on task.
    I do bargain a bit - "If I let you spend a few minutes giving Daisy fresh seed, you need to make up those minutes afterward with schoolwork; although if you finish with time to spare I will give you those few minutes off."

    I use rewards; they don't have to be material. difficult child 3 was given computer time as reward at mainstream. He would earn vouchers for small steps, and ten vouchers could be traded for ten minutes' computer time.

    This boy has a diagnosis of ODD but nothing else? I'm suspicious - ODD rarely travels alone. Unless a full assessment has been done with a neuropsychologist, I would suspect an underlying disorder (ADHD? Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)?) as a major contributing factor.

    Just for your curiosity, if you think there is any chance of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), do the online unofficial Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) questionnaire on See how he scores, based on what you know of him. It could give you something to think about.

    And thank you for being such a caring, concerned and thoughtful teacher. I wish we could clone you and send you around the world!

    Another book for you, when you have the time - "The Essential 55" by Ron Clarke. It's not about disabilities, it's about teaching in general and some interesting ideas. I'm using my own variation on it to teach difficult child 3 some social skills. I vary the wording of some of the rules, using this book as inspiration, t hen print them out and stick them on the wall (behind the toilet door is traditionally the major learning centre in our house - it also has lots of Escher prints stuck there, as well as French irregular verbs).

    Keep us posted.

  7. teachergirl

    teachergirl New Member

    Thank you all for the warm welcome. I will be looking for the book at the library this weekend. I wish my principal thought I was warm and caring. She's upset because the child's mother calls her and asks for her son to be taken out of my class every time he does not complete an assignment and she see less than a perfect grade:( I understand that the principal doesn't want to hassle with a disgruntled parent but I don't think I should drop all expectations all of the time...I encourage the child and ignore a lot of the behaviors as long as they don't disrupt someone else's learning.

    Today the student did not participate at all in class until we played the song he liked at the end. Then he jumped in with both feet. He tells me the other music is "hard". Well, it's not any tougher than the song he likes!

    It's an interesting journey. The more I think about it, the more I think that another student may have ODD too. His mom has told me that he sees a psychiatrist but not why he sees him and of course, I can't ask.

    For those who were wondering, the first child was in a condcut class in elementary school for ODD. He's currently on consult for Special Education math. The mom does not want him in any Special Education situation, not even consult. He has an IEP but there is nothing in it about behavior, just math. It may be that he won't qualify much longer for Special Education and then he is really going to have a tough time because, in terms of discipline, he will be treated the same as everyone else. This will not go well...Right now he operates under special conditions.

    I just don't think he is going to get the help he needs. I am afraid something terrible is going to happen first.

    Thanks again. I hope to be doing a lot of reading this weekend.
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It would be interesting to know why he thinks other music is hard - maybe it's something to do with familiarity?

    With kids like this, you can sometimes luck out or you can sometimes work it out. And sometimes there is nothing you can do.

    With difficult child 1, he sailed through Kindergarten (the first of our school years in Australia) but in Year 1, he was a mess. So was his teacher. And his K teacher didn't have a good rep with the other parents, she really wasn't good, but she had just happened by instinct to do all the right things for difficult child 1. His Year 1 teacher was a bundle of nerves who tried to run her class like a military establishment (she has mellowed with time). Her inability to cope actually led to difficult child 1 finally getting identified as having problems.

    difficult child 3 is an example of a kid who no teacher could help sufficiently to keep him in mainstream. He's very bright, has needed extension work in a number of subjects, but is very rigid about the conditions in which he can learn. He's had the worst teachers as well as some of the best, and it was seeing how even the best teachers couldn't help him enough, that led to us pulling him out of mainstream. The school tried hard, but the environment there was simply incompatible for him, so we've found a very different option that works.

    And I always did my darndest to work hand in hand with the school. Yes, there were times when I put my steel-capped boots on, I remember having one teacher in tears although only a few hours later we were working side by side in the kitchen at a school dance - no hard feelings, because I put my case reasonably.

    Some kids can't be helped no matter how hard you try, even if their parents are working as a team with you. So if you are dealing with parents with Ostrich Syndrome, your ability to help with ANYTHING is severely hampered.

    All I can suggest for you - do what you can, do what you f eel is right, try to work out how the kid ticks and if you can't do anything else learn enough from this encounter to be better equipped to help the next child like this that comes into your class.

    Happy reading!

  9. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    suggestions that have worked with my son with similiar issues.

    Try not to tell/ask him to do things, often this is taken in the wrong way. See if you can come up with a way that makes it seem as if HE is coming up with the solution himself. This way he may be more receptive to doing so. It comes down to how he is approached. If he is approached with someone yelling, he will react in a similiar way.

    Does he like to help? My son likes to feel as if he can help. My son is very bright but refuses to do many things. One of his teachers had him instruct the "warm ups" This way he was doing the work, even though he thought he was helping. He also was given the job of helping other students that have questions.

    My son has a "cool off" pass. He uses this when he feels frustration and anxiety building. He has certain people he can seek out to help him cool off, re-group and rejoin the class. Keeping outbursts from occurring in the classroom.

    My son also has difficulty writing. A solution was written into his IEP to use the computer for any free form writing assignment. At first he was reluctant to do this, afraid of other students comments. He either did the assignment at home on the computer or in the library. Now he uses the classroom computer. He can email the unfinished assignment home, or use a flash drive.

    He also has an "extended time out" written into his IEP. Have not had to use it yet. But incase there was extreme frustration and anxiety he is given the option to call home and I can remove him from the school for an hour or so. This helps keep him from saying things or doing things that can cause detention, in school suspension or out of school suspension.

    Does this child have an IEP?
    From my experience trying to help him do homework, if I tell him how to do it he shutsdown. If I ask him how to do it, he will show me.

    Just my experience with my son. Hope you find some success. Having a wonderful teacher makes all the difference in the world.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    To me, with problems in math and writing, it sounds like more is going on than ODD. Moms who've been there know that ODD rarely stands alone. There is usually another, more serious disorder triggering the ODD behavior and the school can't fix it if they don't know what it is. It's not your call to suggest a neuropsychologist evaluation to the parent. I personally prefer evaluations that have nothing to do with the school district. Bottom line, there is a minimum of what you can do for a child who isn't yours. I think reading "The Explosive Child" is a good start. Warning: I personally dislike when teachers think they know what is really going on at home and who has a better handle on the situation. You don't live with the child at home--in my opinion it's not right to judge the parents. They are probably beside themselves. And don't say "but--" because what you see may not be what they live through day after day with this child. There is often disagreement between parents about what to do with such difficult kids. Often it has nothing to do with "bad" parenting. The kids are just different and the parents are told ten different things by ten different professionals who also don't know how to help. It gets very frustrating.
    I'm not convinced that spending time in a CD class would help him, but it would help YOU, since you have other students to teach too.
    Good luck.
  11. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    MM pointed out some very good points. Unless you live with a difficult child you have no idea what is going on. Too often parents and caretakers are judged by a childs behavior.
    Find what works for you enabling you to teach all your students.
  12. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome, teachergirl from another teacher. I am just shaking my head at the thought of nearly 40 students in a classroom. I didn't think that they had classes that large anywhere anymore.

    I am assuming that this is a regular education classroom and that you have no aide. How the heck are you supposed to teach that many children and deal with two that are ODD and have special needs and still meet the needs of all of the children in your class?

    I think that you are being put into an impossible position. I admire that you are reaching out for help. Is there anyone at the school that you can turn to?

    It is very easy for others to tell you what to do that have never been put into a situation like that. I'm afraid that you are in for a long year ~ especially if the mom doesn't see the situation like it really is. Many parents forget that their child is not the only one in the class.

    I feel your pain. Let us know how things go.

    Wiped out ~ You have phones in your classrooms? I'm jealous! The only way I have to contact anyone is the emergency call button that goes to the office.

  13. teachergirl

    teachergirl New Member

    His parents are divorced. The mother has told me that her ex-husband *will have nothing to do with school related decisions*. Period. Both parents attended the IEP meeting last spring. The mom stated her case and stomped out of the meeting before anyone else was allowed to say anything. The dad stayed for the whole time and worked with us on the academic plan for this child. The behavior issues were skirted around by the school Special Education folks and parent.

    In recent conversations with the dad, he has stated that he would like to be more involved but is not permitted to be by the mother. He is always supportive, always trying to think of new ideas to help his son.

    Mom, I'm sure, is completely worn out and frustrated. No, I don't know what goes on at home. All I know is what the two of them tell me and the impression it gives me. At least I'm getting the same story from both of them...

    I'm trying to help the child and I can only say what my impressions are from the information I have been given. I'm not judging, just saying what I personally have experienced so far.
  14. teachergirl

    teachergirl New Member

    And teachers are judged the same way...
  15. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Kathy-We got phones in the room around 11 years ago. I think there is only one school in our district that doesn't have them.
  16. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Amen to that.

    Wiped ~ You lucky duck. Not only do we not have phones in our classrooms, my cell phone doesn't work because of the thick stone walls. I feel cut off from the world. Thank goodness for email. :smile:

  17. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Kathy, you said earlier, "I am just shaking my head at the thought of nearly 40 students in a classroom. I didn't think that they had classes that large anywhere anymore."

    I agree - 40 is way too many. Unfortunately we often DO have classes that big in Aussie schools. And even if you have Special Needs kids, you won't get ANY help unless there is a funding application, and without the school's encouragement a lot of parents won't apply/don't know they can/are afraid that their child will be 'singled out'/want to wait and see. And if the school DOES encourage - they can get their knuckles rapped for pushing costs up at District level.

    You can get aides for only some Special Needs, only if you can demonstrate specific problems (most of which have been designed for kids with physical disabilities). So a teacher can have a large class with several problem kids, no help and a lot of frustration.

    At the principal level - he has the nasty job of working out how many classes he can have, based purely on numbers of children. I freely admit here I'm pulling numbers out of my head, I don't know exactly what the specific numbers are, but it goes something like this. If there are say, 200 kids slated for enrolment the following year (taking into account those graduating out, those known to be leaving the area, those known to be coming into Kindergarten and any small number from outside known to be transferring in) then he calculates according to, say, a minimum of 30 kids per class. That's six classes, spread over the whole school. Ten more enrolments and he can have seven. Seven classes means seven classrooms and seven teaching staff.

    If he has 212 kids this year, then it's looking like he has to sack a teacher, and the Dept will take away (physically - I kid you not) one of his classrooms. They won't take old, built-in rooms but they will cut back on other services.

    So the principal campaigns to get extra kids into the school/keep kids from leaving if he can.

    Now he has to work out WHAT classes he can have. He probably cannot have K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 because the numbers rarely work out that way.

    He looks at his notes - 200 kids divided by 6 = 33, with 2 over. He can go up to 44 in each class but would rather not. There are 45 kids coming into Kindergarten. That means one straight K, and a composite K/1. Who can he put into K/1? He doesn't know these kids except maybe from a report from the pre-school teacher. So he bases his decisions on age. Who of this year's K will be in the K/1? He has room for 21 year 1 kids. But the number of Year 1s anticipated is 30. This means 9 kids left over. So there will have to be a 1/2 composite... and so on. I've seen school years when they had 6 classes including 1 straight K, all the others composite.

    This means a teacher can have 40 kids, across two grades, often spanning the full ability range of two grades, if you base it purely on age as the local school has done, including probably several kids who need aides but do not have them.

    I am very critical of a lot of things with our local school, not the least of which is the extreme apathy and inability to accept/effect change where it's needed; but I do feel a lot of this is down to them feeling ground down by the system to the point where they have simply had to stop caring, or burn out. Our local school has a lot of staff controlling the attitudes there, who are frankly just marking time until retirement.

    easy child 2/difficult child 2 wants to be a teacher and is near the end of her first year of training. I think she will find it very hard, I hope she also doesn't get ground down by the system. It's nasty. I know our local school is a bad example, we have a lot of good schools, but teachergirl, my heart goes out to you for the effort you're putting in. At least you're giving things a try.

    And Kathy, you need phones in your rooms. A buzzer simply isn't enough, it slows you down too much. A phone speeds things up, even if all that needs to be communicated is "Would Hettie James please come to the office?"
    A phone also communicates, "Would someone at the office please rush down with Janette Watson's epipen? She's just been stung by a bee." I hope you can get what you need before real problems result from this lack. This IS the 21st Century, the telecommunications age...

    I applaud a lot of what I see in US schools, although sometimes I hear horror stories which sound too familiar. I've met good teachers, I've seen good schools, I know it can be done even in a system like ours. And that is what makes me angry - when problems continue even though they don't have to.

    Teachergirl, I fear the others are correct and you are in for a difficult year. We are here to help as much as we can along the way.

    Again, welcome aboard.

  18. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Yup, classes of 40 still exist and my middle schooler was in one (math) until they got it split a few weeks ago. Rapidly growing district, budget woes, middle school issues put on the bottom of heap to address...
  19. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Wow. 40 students.

    And to think that difficult child's 3rd grade teacher claimed she couldn't check to see if difficult child had her homework folder before she left each day because she has "22 students and only 2 teachers in the classroom".

    How do they expect students to learn in a classroom that big? How do they expect teachers to be able to help students on an individual basis as needed? Unreal.

    Oh...and our school district has phones in the classroom, too.
  20. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I know teachers are judged, however this is a board for parents. I didn't mean to offend, but we as parents have heard how it's our faults ALL THE TIME and I thought you'd appreciate feedback on how it could be from the other side. After all, you asked for our help. in my opinion it's not helpful to blame the parents. You simply don't know what is going on at home. You don't know what has or hasn't been tried. You don't know how insane the parents are going. Think YOU'RE going insane by this kid? What if he was YOUR kid? And if you think, "Well, it would never be MY kid" (like most of us thought before we had THAT kid) most of our kids have disorders and are immune to normal discipline. And we get helpful (ahem) advice from everyone about how we should make our kids "behave." I have a son on the autism spectrum. He is obvriously very different. I swear that wonderful teachers GAVE HIM A LIFE. I love some teachers. They helped him. They didn't really know what was wrong with him, nor did the professionals we spent nine years running to, trying to figure him out. But they helped him. Now maybe we helped too by WANTING him in Special Education so that he could get focused help (and it worked). However, he was more an academic problem with quirky behavior. You're talking about a child who is out of control and my compassion is with the parents first. If they are fighting the school, it could be because they feel something other than Special Education is best for him. It's hard for you, yes, but it's harder for them. Does this child have an IEP? An aide? If I were talking to the parents, I'd tell them to take him for a neuropsychologist evaluation, but this is a touchy situation for you. Many parents are so fed up that another suggestion will make them explode, and you really can't do much. My guess is the child will eventually be removed from regular education anyways. Until then, try to see what works best. I'm not convinced that this child has total control over what he does. ODD alone is not really a full most cases there is something else causing the ODD behavior. Using traditional discipline doesn't normally work for our kids. So if you think the parents are "soft" on the child or "give in" to him, I am sure they do sometimes--we get so frustrated that we ALL do. I'm sure they also have tried being strict and consistent. When nothing works, you start to pull your hair out of your head. Also, parents can get in "mother/daddy bear mode" when teachers talk about how disruptive their kids are. I know I've taken on a few teachers who tried to tell me why my son wasn't learning the way he should. "Have you thought about ADHD?" Duh. I thought about ADHD, ODD, ABCDEFG...and didn't need a teacher asking me to consider something we were working on. Hopefully, he will get a new, more intensive evaluation soon (and, no offense, but not with the school district). The right diagnosis. leads to the right treatment and can make a world of difference for our kids.
    Again, don't mean to offend. Take care.