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The Setup

My 4th period class is a vanilla English 1 class. However, there are a number of high-achieving engineering students mixed in with the mainstream kids. As such, this has proven itself on the whole to be a highly capable class.

Previously, there were three boys who needed extra attention because of their behavior. One boy who I thought might have undiagnosed ADHD. One who has an IEP for "general learning disabilities" and whose mother I met. And one other who is just loud. Really really loud.

All three boys, despite their complete lack of impulse control, are good-hearted and will do work if you remind them. If you ask them if their behavior is appropriate for class, they go, "Oh! No, sorry!" and get back on task. Granted, you'll have to remind them again in ten minutes, but in general, they are Good Kids. They contribute to the class discussion (sometimes too much), two of them are academically sound (one WAS academically sound until he forgot to turn in his essay outline), and they're just helpful, nice kids who will help me pass out papers and clean up tables.

On September 5th, a new boy was added to my already-crowded classroom. I did not actually meet him until the next week, however, because he cut the first week he was supposed to be in my class.

The first time I met this kid, he came up to me and said, "I hate this class. I hate you. I don't want to be here."

I played it off cheerfully and told him he'd have to talk to a counselor about that, but while he's here, here was that day's assignment, and this was how you did it.

He did not do it.

Nor did he do any of the other assignments that week.

Every day, he'd tell me, "I hate his class. I hate this. I'm not doing this."

I talked to the counselor and hinted that this wouldn't be a good placement for him, but she couldn't change his schedule. She confided in me that he hadn't actually passed 8th grade, the middle school had just moved him out, and how he didn't feel comfortable in school in general.

For the first couple of class periods, I basically couldn't deal with him, because those Other Three Boys who actually were trying needed help, and I figured this kid would chill out eventually, especially since he was sitting next to a high achieving girl he apparently knew, and she was trying to help him get started.

He did not chill out. That week, he made inappropriate comments, joked about wanting to fight people and be a school shooter, "jokingly" took his friend's paper and put his name on it, leaving early when I wanted to talk to him, leaving the group when we were going to a presentation at the theater, skipping detention-- all kinds of fucking bullshit. He got detention for the three classes I had him in that week (It's a block schedule, so I see that class every other day).

The first class of the second week he was actually in my class, I was absent, and my neighbor teacher and the head of the English Department covered for me, as that was her Prep period. She emailed me that day letting me know he had been disrespectful to her and had walked out of class, and she had written him a referral. I thanked her.

The next time I saw him, he did the whiny thing again, then bragged about how he had left campus and bought a burrito when my colleague had been here. I told him that if he was in the classroom, he was going to work. He had the choice of working inside the classroom where people could help him, or he could work in the office, but I wasn't going to put up with that whiny non-participatory nonsense.

He grabbed his bag and walked out of class, making a scene while he went. I called the office and let them know he pulled a runner.

The Disciplinary Advisor found him and brought him back. I said I didn't want him in class because of his disruption, so the boy worked on his vocabulary outside, where the Disciplinary Advisor was already doing security for the back parking lot near my class.

The next class period, he left again when I told him to work. I let them know he was gone, but they didn't find him.

Friday was a minimum day, and he was fine. The class is only a half hour long, so it would take real effort to be kicked out on a Friday.


Monday, he was back to his bullshit. The class was working on peer-editing (or in some cases, finishing) their essay rough drafts. He hadn't started his-- of course-- and he told me plainly that he wasn't going to do it.

I told him, "your choice is to either do work in class, or do it in the office. I will not be tolerating that attitude in class."

He said, "What if I just leave?"

I said nothing, because frankly I was screaming internally, "LEAVE YOU LITTLE SHITGOBLIN! GO, GO! BE FREE!"

So he left, and I called the office and told them not to bring him back if they found him.

They didn't find him, but he returned fifteen minutes later saying he was ready to work, and that he had gone down the street and ate a burrito. I said fine, so long as he actually worked. He did work for about 10 minutes, and then he became distracting to other students and loudly refused to work again, saying that he'd changed his mind.

I took him outside and sat him down on a chair that has been serving as my door stop. I told him he could work out here if it was less distracting. He said okay, but then talked to other students who were on their way to class. Then my neighbor teacher, the one who had subbed previously, walked by.

"I hate you!" he shouted to her. "You gave me a referral!"

"You deserved it!" I told him. My neighbor shook her head, like she was irritated by him and went to her room. I brought him back inside and told him I was calling the office and sending him out.

He grabbed his bag and literally ran. The other students laughed about it because it looked so cartoonish.

I sighed and told the office he was gone again and to not bring him back. The rest of the class went smoothly.

During Advisory, the period after 4th where students are allowed to visit other classes and work with other teachers, he came into class looking pissed. He rolled his sleeves up, tore off his headphones, and shouted at me,


To which I said, "Yeah?"


Here I glanced down at my laptop, because I had literally just clicked "submit" on the referral I had written for him as he walked in.

"Oh?" I said, wondering if he was some kind of clairvoyant.

"YEAH! (Disciplinary Advisor) caught me and gave me a referral because I went off on him!"

I looked at him flatly. "It is not my fault you cannot control yourself."

"YES IT IS!" he shouted on his way out the door. "IT'S YOUR FAULT I GOT A REFERRAL!"

Another student who was in advisory shook his head and said sagely, "He is just looking for someone to blame."

After school, the Disciplinary Advisor sent me an email saying that he had talked to the kid's mother before, and recommended I do the same. He gave me her number, and I called to set up a parent-teacher meeting. Those of you who know me will know how momentous that is, because I am terrified of talking on the phone. but I called his mom like a human. I DID IT.


I prepared a substitute teacher lesson for my morning class, as the meeting was supposed to last the hour and a half. Instead of getting a real substitute, one of the other advisors was covering for me.

I went to the office and found the Kid waiting outside, and found his mom and two sisters waiting inside. We all trickled into the Advisor's office and I set up my laptop, on which i had the kid's grades and attendance and a list of inappropriate behavior he had done.

I had a long, flowery speech ready, one that would spare feelings and phrase things as delicately as possible, but when I looked at Mom, I completely forgot everything I had prepared and said,

"I am going to be as blunt as possible. Your son's behavior in my class is unacceptable. he is disrespectful to me, he is disrespectful to other students, and he is disrespectful to other teachers. He has only been in my class for two weeks, and he has threatened to fight another student, has taken another student's paper and put his name on it, has joked about becoming a school shooter--"

--Here mom had to stop me so Advisor could translate what a school shooter was. She looked pissed and told the boy, who was playing with his headphones, to put them away and pay attention.

I told her how he was supposed to join my class on the 5th, but I did not see him until the 13th and--

She stopped me to ask about the phone calls she had been getting from school. She had been getting calls saying he had been missing classes, but he told her they were wrong, and that he had switched classes, and so teachers were marking him wrong.

I held up the laptop with the attendance record while the Advisor looked up attendance on his IPad. The screen was a checkerboard of yellow squares.

The yellow As are classes he has missed.

Her: That is enough. He is switching schools. Get me the paperwork.

Me: Uh.

Advisor,not missing a fucking beat : I can start that right now.

Her: *yells at boy in Spanish*

Advisor: (to me) She's telling him how he told her they were mistakes. She's calling him a liar.

Her: (To us) How many absences does he have?

Advisor: 49. I can understand a handful being mistakes, but not that many.

Her: This was his one chance to be at this school. Give me the paperwork, and he will go to the other school.

Older Sister: Can I see his grades?

I pulled up his report, and showed her. She gave a low whistle and was impressed that all of the Fs were below 20%.

After that, they didn't need me anymore. I returned to class, and my students were surprised to see me. I was only gone for fifteen minutes.


Today I had 4th period again, and even though he skipped his 2nd period, the kid did come to my class. He didn't stay long, though. he asked if he could read his SSR book in the office, and I let him go.

Surprisingly enough, the one who gave me grief was MaybeAHDH kid, who spazzed out and walked out of class. He has wanted to work on his past-due essay and essay outline instead of work on the new short story assignment, and when I took him outside and said he could do those after finishing the short stories and not before, he had a mini meltdown. He came back inside, sat quietly for 5-10 minutes, then got up and left, leaving all his stuff behind. I let the office know-- which is frankly getting embarrassing. When he came back 25 minutes later of his own volition, I told him to go do his work in the office as well.

About fifteen minutes later, the Advisor and brought the other kid came back. Kid decided he wanted to be in my classroom instead of the office, and promised not to cause any trouble. The advisor advised me that he had already contacted the kids mom that morning for something unrelated, and that the boy needed space. That was fine by me, so long as he didn't cause anymore ruckus.

He spent the period quietly, and I think he tried to work on something, but didn't finish.

During Advisory he kept popping in and out to visit my class. He wasn't loud or disruptive, he just looked a little lost. I asked why he was there, and he said he was bored.

I asked, "Are you going to be here next week?"

"I don't know," he responded. "Maybe?"

"If you are, I recommend finishing up the short story. That way, if you are, you can turn it in and boost your grade a little."

He said okay, then sat in the corner and did-- I don't know. I can act really patient and sweet thanks to my time in food service, but I was feeling really done with him at this point.

Later, MaybeADHD kid came in and got his backpack. He apologized for the outburst and explained that, because grades were due yesterday, he's been really stressed out. He was failing three classes and no longer allowed to play football, which was why he was so intent on finishing last weeks work in my class instead of doing to new assignment; in my class he was hovering around a 54%, and finishing the essay and outline would raise him to a B because Essays/Projects are worth so much.

I reminded him that, as per the discussion we had with the counselor and advisors, if he knows he was feeling stressed out like that, he needs to tell me and we can determine if he needs to go to the office at the beginning of the period, not part way through and make a big scene. I gave him the short story assignments and he went to go finish them in another class.

Other News

1. I am in the process of Induction, which is getting my credential cleared. Apparently, the college and teacher program saying you are a teacher is not enough to actually be a qualified teacher. you must then work at a school for 2 years and have them also verify that you are, in fact, a teacher. This is a long and scary process, but my Instructional Coach tells me I am farthest ahead out of all the Inductees she is dealing with this year, and my goals seem pretty doable right now, so I am stoked.

2. I have two tutors this year. Last year, I had bilingual ELD tutors who sporadically arrives in the day, like ghosts who would come in, help ELD kids with vocabulary, then vanish into the ether. Now, I have a college tutor who is here to help on days where i have all my classes, and a tutor I had last year who is not technically my tutor, but she is doing an assignment for her college class where she needs to observe a teacher's class, help out, and then see how I lesson plan. So now I'm gonna have to pretend to be competent for my Instructional Coach AND this baby college kid.

On another note-- damn. When did I start thinking of college kids as little precious babies? Because both my tutors are like cute little kids. I am surrounded by children who are taller than me.

3. We have a new cat. Her name is Petra, but I keep calling her Peetra, Petri Dish, Petey, Petty Paws, and Poochi. Her old owner is my sister's coworker, and she could not afford to stay in her apartment anymore and had to adopt her two cats out. The other was adopted quickly because he is young, but Petra is 13 and nobody wanted her, so we have her. Because we are fucking suckers for a sob story, and I adore calico cats.

So that is what is going on in the world of Zeph.