Here’s another question:
I have a situation that is tough and I’m not sure where to go with it. This is what I’ve sent to one of the counselors (and have asked him to come observe):
I am in need of some help. I have a student who is diagnosed with ASD in my French class. He’s a funny kid who is new to the school. It was another difficult class today (last block of the day). The first half hour was fine but after that, he almost continuously disrupted, blurted out and got the class off track. It was anything from sounds, to tv commercial jingles, to memes, to random stuff.
I asked him to come out in the hallway with me while I had the kids do something in small groups. I asked him what I could do to help him not blurt out. He said that he didn’t know. That he says things to entertain himself when he’s bored. We were going over what people in the class like or are good at. I asked him to think about what I could do that would help him.
He is almost always listening even though he’s blurting. He gets it the first time so when I’m going over it in a different way is when he’s blurting. However, other kids need the repetitions.
I’m afraid that he’s enjoying being the class clown. His blurting makes many of the kids laugh and of course, it completely derails the flow of the conversation and the lesson.
Any ideas? I’ll give it one more week but if it doesn’t change, I will have to completely restructure how I teach my class as it will be out of control.
The thing is I could personally care less what the label they’ve put on this kid might be. Your sense* that he enjoys this role as the class clown means he is experienced at playing teachers, parents, admins and mental health people in order to stay in charge.
The label is not an excuse to avoid doing what is expected of him in this class, where uninterrupted free flow of communication must supercede all other aspects of the instruction we offer. The other students must follow the rules and he must follow the rules. There are no exceptions.
Anyone who expects you to make an exception in this kids’ case has got to back off on the Kool Aid that they are drinking. It might work in other classes, but not in language classes that actually align with research and the standards, where an uninterrupted flow of natural and pleasant communication is at the very core to the success of each student in the class.
Now, if this kid is clinically unable to be quiet and follow the rules, then you need to ask your principal to place that student somewhere where he can benefit. In your class, IF YOU DO THIS RIGHT, he will NOT be able to offend and interrupt. IT IS A REQUIREMENT FOR YOUR COURSE, NOT AN OPTION.
I don’t know this situation, but if he really is unable to do what is necessary, then why would anybody in their right mind in the administration, including the parents, even stop to consider that he be allowed to be in the class anymore than a child who cannot hear or see?
I would in fact prefer to teach a deaf child if they wanted to learn, as opposed to this kid. So that is up to you, to find out if indeed he is truly unable to function, then you need to ask someone why they would put a child who is UNABLE TO FUNCTION in the class in the first place. And then you would have to do the hard part – refuse to teach the kid. That’s where we all cave. No blame – we need our jobs. But wouldn’t it be nice?***
I would personally tackle this head on in class each time he blurts. NOW IN THE FIRST WEEKS OF SCHOOL IS THE TIME. IF YOU DON’T DO IT NOW YOU WILL LOSE THE CLASS.
I would use the classroom management ideas that I describe in both A Natural Approach to Stores and ANATTY, WHERE the key concept is to enforce the rules without speaking** while especially focusing on using Classroom Rule #2.
I am certain that the reason is not just this label of ASD but also a very complex set of deep needs and the way I would do it is handle him like anyone else, because he is just another student WITH RESPONSIBILITIES – BIG ONES IN A LANGUAGE CLASS – to follow the rules and especially that jewel of a rule – #2.
WITH EACH INTERRUPTION, with no exceptions whatsoever, I would just stop class and point to rule #2 and do what is described in the natural approach books. I would make it so that he knows that each time you will calmly stop, look at him while pointing to the rule and NOT BE DEFEATED. I would react in each instance and WEAR HIM DOWN.
Of course the parents must be told that they can’t play the label card because of the fact that, in your class, blurts are not just annoyances, but fatal events to the success of the class, so their child is in a whole new category where we cannot allow that the onus of fixing everything be put on the shoulders of the teacher but rather on the child where it belongs.
Maybe right now you can just go straight to parents/counseling and get him out of there. The school’s failure to respond now in August could lead to every single other student in there losing massive amounts of input and not being prepared for next year. IS THAT A GOOD ENOUGH REASON?
I might even just go on my high horse to the board of the school and explain the research and how this kid is getting coddled, or if the label is 100% accurate, then he should not be in there and I would refuse to accept the implied position here of it being your fault that this kid is acting out. See what the board will do with 60 other pissed off parents whose kids are being prevented to learn by this kid.
If he can change, great. But he can’t. The nature of the interaction you had with him out in the hallway shows he won’t/can’t/it ain’t gonna happen. Those hallway conversations always bring victory to the child who has gotten vert good at feigning a desire to “improve” but underneath that concerned face in the hallway is zero desire to change whatsoever, and a strong desire to continue on getting all the clown points you have allowed up to this point in the year.
If it were me I would use Rule #2 for a few days only – like a hammer – and then I would mount my offensive to get him OUT. Why? Because he will cost the kids so much. NOT TO MENTION making you teach that class in an entirely different way. That’s terrible! What an insult to our profession. No other profession gets insulted like that. It’s not even close.
You might look up the word blurt or blurting on the PLC – there may be some posts. This topic has along history here on the PLC, as I remember.
Meanwhile maybe we might get some PLC responses.
*Teachers never trust their “senses” about things enough. It is because we have been largely ignored by overpaid and underproductive administrators and blabby, full-of-themselves parents and their equally full-of-themselves children.
**As Fred Jones says, “Open your mouth and slit your throat.”
Admins don’t actually read the research. They don’t have time. If or when they do read it, they do not really grasp it. How could