My wife comes home crying everynight.

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Husband101, Oct 1, 2007.

  1. Husband101

    Husband101 New Member

    - My wife teaches third grade in an inner city. She has an all English mainstream classroom of 30 kids and no help. It has only been a month and a half and she wants to quit. She knows she can't because of are home situation. I am a Mr. Mom to my one year old and I go to law school at night. My three year old goes to daycare at my wife's school but my wife gets very little work done before and after school because of her. Then she has to rush home sao I can get to class.
    I know she is a saint. I was trying to help her research on how to work with these kids. I am no expert but it sounds like at least 3 students have ODD, and 25 out of the 30 are learning disabled and it is heavily racial imbalanced. There is only one white child in the class. Today her black students declare her class a black class and began to beat up the white child and told him that they wanted him out. My daughter happened to be their and she started to cry. As a concerned husband and father I am not allowing my child to go to school with her tomorrow but I know my decision makes my wife feel bad like it is her fault.
    The internet has nothing but book and program ads. The teachers at the University I go too have no clue. Please help!!!!!!!!!

    Oh by the way I forgot to add that the administration in her school has told her to deal with it and they are non compliant. There is supposed to be some report that gets set for transfer student so they can be reassessed for help and the secretaries said that they are lost. And she does not have all her books for her students. No workbooks at all and the children have no lockers(just her class).
  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Welcome to our forum. What a tough situation to be in, especially when she doesn't have support of the administration. I do recommend that she document, document, document problems and lack of administrative follow-up. Schools like this tend to put the problem back on the teacher and she will want to have proof that she's followed through.

    I was a high school teacher and I think your wife's best source of help would be an experienced teacher in her building as they would understand the cold, hard realities she has to deal with. Has she confided in any of them and asked for help? Also, has she contacted a teacher's union rep to discuss the working conditions (no administrative support, 25/30 Learning Disability (LD) students with no support, etc.) That classroom makeup is setting her up for sure for the kids to fail state mandated testing.

    For help with the ODD kids we recommend the book, The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. I don't think it's feasible to apply to a whole class setting such as this but it may help her on a case by case basis.
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    SRL, I DO think you can apply "The Explosive Child" on a broader scale. It actually can help, if the other kids work out the new rules and can see it working. I often recommend, if you're applying this to one of your children, apply it to all and it makes it easier.

    Husband101, you mentioned your 3 year old is a reason for your wife not getting a lot done - is this child more of a handful than most, or is this simply the effort of having a young cild in this situation? She shouldn't be in the position of having to teach her own child.

    What is the age spread in her class? The ganging up on the white kids doesn't sound like what I would expect in 3 year olds, as a rule.

    The racism - I would be on that fast. Those kids are behaving exactly as the white supremacists have done. The fact that this has happened in the past is no excuse for it to be happening now - those kids need to be told, "You should know better, we ALL know better these days; to attack a different group once we have this knowledge is even more wrong, than the original criminals who hurt others in the name of 'racial purity'."
    But can you say that to 3 year olds?

    It sounds to me like these kids aren't so much being racist, as simply making trouble because they have the upper hand. The race card is just a convenient excuse.

    easy child 2/difficult child 2 was teaching a group like this, last year in her physical fitness class. The problems were aggravated by a supervisor in the class (who was their regular teacher, my daughter was more of a 'guest' or specialist teacher) and this supervisor would keep throwing her weight around inappropriately, with things like, "You lot are all being totally RUDE and NASTY today," often delivered just as easy child 2/difficult child 2 was getting some control. And by saying "all" this teacher was also including the few kids who WERE trying to behave, making them all think, "Why should I even try?"
    Or easy child 2/difficult child 2 would have asked for ideas - she might be developing an acting scenario and asked the kids, "Where will we be? What setting?" and the kids replying by calling out ideas. Again the teacher would shout them down, even though they were NOT out of control. But when these kids WERE misbehaving, the teacher was often chatting to someone else and ignoring them. easy child 2/difficult child 2 then developed her own method of getting control - she talked softly, or said nothing. Putting her hands on her head was a sign that until all the kids had their hands on their heads and were quiet, she would not continue.
    The other thing she did with these kids - right at the beginning of the lesson, she would wear them out physically by getting them to play a very active game. She got a lot more cooperation out of them. She also promised another favourite game once the lesson was done to her satisfaction, assuming they were not delayed. Of course, misbehaviour can often delay the class and the end game gets shortened as a result. The kids quickly learned to cooperate and get their tasks done if they wanted their finishing game.

    Now what she was teaching was circus skills, and drama. The age range in her class was from 5 to 10 and there were a number of ADHD kids there as well as one who she was really concerned had major learning problems. A few kids I have independently observed when I teach chess (my lunchtime class) that they are disruptive, spoilt and a real handful. But when you have their enthusiasm engaged, they can be model students.

    Now, I gather your wife is not teaching anything physical, but you can still do similar things with an academic class. You can begin with a quiz - keep it simple, keep it fast and you can increase the complexity as they get more skilled. You can throw in the occasional REALLY easy question, such as "What is the name of the US President?" or "What did you have for breakfast?" to make sure they're paying attention, and so ALL the kids feel they have a chance to answer a question correctly. But your wife has to invent the rules and stick to them. Any changes - should be made on HER terms. And the promise of another quiz at the end, once work is done, may encourage them to work - and she can use the work just done as a basis for the quiz if she wants.

    Meanwhile, if she needs to get the kids working either as a team or individually, quietening down, this could be where she is seeing problems. She needs to watch and see which kids are triggering problems and under what circumstances. A kid with dyslexia, for example, may choose to misbehave (or start a lynching) to cover up an inability to read. it's easy to not get caught out as a non-reader when you're always cooling your heels at the principal's office.

    She needs consequences she can use, and then she needs to not use them except as a last resort. And they need to be appropriate consequences - a kid shouldn't get out of work because they misbehaved. That's how illiterates sneak through the system without getting the help they need.

    Consequences my teacher used to use on us - writing out a list of 100 words. Failure to write the list meant a double dose. The words needed to be at least 6 letters long (for Grade 6) and had to be spelled correctly. We were allowed to copy them from a dictionary, so we could go to a dictionary and simply copy the words in sequence - we didn't have to think of them for ourselves. And they would have to be handwritten. If a child has problems with handwriting, you could suggest they either space the writing task out, or give them the option of reading them into a tape recorder. I'm betting they will choose to write - kids get very self-conscious when faced with a microphone!
    Some kids in my class wrote out 100 words in advance, so if they got a punishment they simply pulled out "here's one I prepared earlier" and went out to play. This is OK - it means their stash of prepared punishments has been reduced, so the consequence still works. It is an arduous task to write out words, even if you're only doing them in anticipation. And it gets the kid educated without them realising it. Plus, any kids with literacy issues can be flushed out this way. And as you get to recognise a kid's handwriting, you can refuse to accept work from unfamiliar handwriting, because standover tactics and getting other kids to do the work for them is not acceptable. It's AMAZING how magic you can seem, to kids who are trying to rot the system!

    Keep things light, keep using rewards (like praise, used appropriately) and encouragement, and you CAN change these kids around. But a new broom - it takes time.

    Get her to lurk here, or join. Do a sig so we get to know you better. And welcome to the mob! If your wife has any more specific concerns, we might be able to help her there, as well. We do have teachers on this site - some who are parents of difficult kids, and a few who are here because of their students.

    Oh, and for a while my easy child 2/difficult child 2 was on the point of giving in, she would be in tears over what this class would do to her morale. Then she found a crack in their defences which helped her feel she COULD do it - and now she's chosen to study to be a teacher. It's wonderful what a little bit of success can do for your morale, especially after what you feel has been spectacular failure.

  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I feel for your wife. I wouldn't want to teach in an innercity school where, frankly, nobody cares about the kids. It would be really hard. I have no advice, just empathy. Hope she gets a handle on it. She may want to read some Jonathan Kozial books. THey are GREAT and focus on the very poor innercity school system, but also introduce the kids to you--it gives you a different perspective and maybe can help her understand where they are coming from. THeir lives are very different from ours, which is why they are like they are. I feel for all those kids too. I am not convinced that regular behavioral methods work with kids who may witness neglect, abuse and certainly may be very hungry at times--and angry. This doesn't sound like a middle class school where kids basically don't have to worry about violence in the streets.
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    My older three kids went to an inner city school with a high black enrolment - Aboriginal enrolment, in our case. And for a while, easy child was really copping it from a handful of local kids especially, who accused her of being racist because she got cranky at one of these local girls. They picked on her, hassled her and threatened her. We know now - they had an "auntie" employed at the school to deal with black issues, easy child could have gone to hr for support. But it sorted out because it soon was obvious that easy child hadn't been racist in defending herself against this girl, she had simply been defending herself, period. Once they realised that this new family were NOT racist, they stopped attacking her. But until then - these few kids had played the race card in a "poor me" attempt to milk every drop of sympathy from the situation, at the same time as ducking out of every scrap of their personal responsibility. It was easier to opt out of making any effort and to blame white oppression for their failure to achieve, than to put in a bit of mental effort and maybe even succeed. But it did happen - the girl who bullied easy child did turn herself around and finally did very well in school, with a lot of encouragement from the white and the black staff.

    This inner city school is located in a ghetto where race riots have been seen on the news around the world. It's been a very nasty place to try to raise kids, but it's where the Aboriginals gravitate to when they are trying to get back in touch with lost family members (thanks to the past nasty practices of our governments and welfare agencies). There is a lot of anger in that area, mostly directed at police (sometimes justifiably). But it turned out to be the best school any of my kids went to, in this age group. And they did it by embracing the black culture and involving every student in learning not only about Aboriginal culture, but also every other culture represented by the origins of the students at this school. It took a lot of effort (hence the "auntie") but it was worth it.

    Sometimes, when things look really bleak, it's because the administration has given up. The kids and their families are often good people in a bad situation. Let it continue for too long and they go bad as well. The administration is where to begin. Once the kids and the families see someone making a genuine effort to understand them and try to listen and help, things can begin to change.

    I hope your wife can keep her sense of decency and confidence. She is in a difficult situation but there are ways...

  6. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    She's a saint, indeed. This is an absurd situation. This administration has set her and the students up for failure. Lack of work materials is more than enough for your wife to deal with; add in +/-80% of her students with-LDs and ODD behaviors is over-the-top.

    I hope more teachers can give some insight for potential handling.

    Educating students with disabilities in the US is governed by IDEA 2004 (students with-IEPs) and a Civil Rights Law known as Section 504 (students with Section 504 plans). IDEA is enforced by the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR). Your State Education Agency (Special Education Division) also bares responsibility for ensuring that school districts within the State enforce these laws.

    In your situation, I'd be tempted to write a letter addressed to the three entities requesting a full-scale investigation into the matters (without red-flagging the District of their intent) -- including that the District be put on a monitoring program.

    How to outline potential items that need investigating:
    *IEPs and Section 504s are not being implemented
    *classrooms do not have books, work books and related instructional material
    *some mainstream classes with-25+ students have 50%+ IEP/Section 504 students and no paraprofessional(s) for the teachers
    *re-evaluations are not being done
    etc., etc., etc.

    I don't know how seriously an anonymous letter would be taken, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. If you decide to take action along these lines, be sure and send the letters via Certified Mail. It will add credence to the letters, but more importantly circumvent denial of "we didn't get the letter; we didn't know."

    If that doesn't get some noticable action within 3 - 4 weeks, I'd pass the letter along to the local newspaper and/or television news. (Might do it anyway.)

    You'll find addresses for OSEP and OCR in the following links.

  7. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi Husband 101! Welcome to the group! Are you in the States? You could also have your wife hop on here and use us as a sounding board! Sometimes this place can be truly cathartic when you feel like you're in it alone.

    Tell her to drop in and we'll be able to welcome you both with open arms and some seriously strong shoulders!

  8. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    It would probably be a good idea to check first if these 25 students have been formally identified as Learning Disability (LD) by the district first. There is a big difference between a teacher recognizing the student to have learning problems and for the parents and district to have gone through the proper legal channels identifying the student as such.
  9. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Good point, SRL.
  10. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I knew *you* knew that Sheila, I just wanted to make sure the original poster knew the differentiation.

    In my district all that has to happen now is to raise the alarm that some children may disadvantaged on standardized test scores required by No Child Left Behind and the administration takes notice. Parents and teachers complained for years that the older buildings didn't have AC--it was truly miserable, especially for this generation that has grown up with air. But the moment the arguement changed to the schools without air contain the highest populations of disadvantaged at-risk students and it's putting them at a disadvantage on their test scores and you can't believe how fast funds were found.
  11. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Welcome, Husband101. You've gotten some good ideas here.
    You're in good company.
    Wow, your wife IS a saint!
    Seems like your law degree may come in handy in a few yrs.

    My husband had a similar issue when he was a kid, in the 60s, in MN. As one of the few white kids in a huge, inner city school, he was constantly beaten up. His mother, a big civil rights activist, told him not to fight back. She was doing the philosopical thing while he was being beaten to a pulp. After he was thrown down the stairs and his ribs were broken, she finally saw the light, and he got a court order to be transferred to a different school.

    If you are in the U.S., your school should be better integrated.
    And, as others have mentioned, there are serious issues with-the IEPs (or lack thereof). And the textbooks ...

    I agree that she has to document everything and move forward with-formal complaints. This is for the kids as much as for herself.

    Good luck!
  12. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    If OCR and OSEP is not applicable, substitute .

    Actually, I'd add it as a 4th entity if IEPs and 504s are involved.

    Teachers shouldn't be left on their own by a non-compliant school district. It's a disservice to teacher and students.