Saturday, March 26, 2016
Thank You, Mr. Hero
First, a little background.
Tizzy, the little guy I work with, comes from a family where the normal behavior is rowdiness, swearing, yelling, and even breaking the law. His parents were former gang members, and a few of his older siblings and cousins have already been in jail. This could explain a little about where some of Tizzy's behavioral challenges come from. Tizzy especially seems to crave male attention. Because I think it is good for him to see some adult men behaving in positive, socially acceptable ways (such as not punching each other or screaming at others) I try to encourage any relationships he can build with the handful of adult men who work in the school... the PE teachers (even the one who isn't HIS PE teacher), the custodian, etc. There are not many to choose from, unfortunately. The librarian is a male but he seems intimidated by Tizzy, and tends to handle any and all "problem" behaviors by repeatedly saying, "Johnny, the expectation is that you do this. Johnny, it is expected that you do this." (Ugh, don't get me started on the expected/unexpected behaviors thing. That is a rant for another day.)
There is an administrator in the district who comes to our school once or twice a month. In the past, when Tizzy's behavior has gotten beyond the point of his control, this administrator... who I'll call Mr. Hero... happened to be in the building and was one of the people who came to help. His usual method of helping was to take Tizzy by the hand, bring him to his office, and spend some time talking and playing games with him. This was good in many ways, because it was nice for Tizzy to spend quality time with someone... except that, after the first time, Tizzy started purposely acting up whenever he thought Mr. Hero was in the building. He even said, "I want to go to Mr. Hero's office." So I tried to reinforce that, whenever Mr. Hero was in the building, we'd ask Mr. Hero to spend some positive time with Tizzy. Tizzy would not need to be out of control in order to see Mr. Hero. He wouldn't even need to be particularly "good." He could just go, for the sake of going, and have that special time.
An ongoing challenge with Tizzy has been getting him to do work. He hates work of any sort. I try to make it fun and motivating for him by finding hands-on activities he can do, like stacking paper cups on which I've written alphabet letters, or using M&M's to practice Touch Math. Each day I put three "works" in his basket, and when he completes them all, he gets a treat, like a sucker or a pack of stickers. Often, it works. Sometimes, it doesn't. If Tizzy starts to act out (or ideally, if he just requests a break) he is allowed to take five minutes in a quiet room relaxing or doing something he enjoys, and then go back to work. He can take as many breaks as he wants, but the work is going to be there waiting for him, and eventually he usually just agrees to do it. And usually, once he is doing it, he LIKES it! It is just his Oppositional Defiant Disorder that makes him want to fight it.
This past week, Mr. Hero was in the building for several days. I was glad to see him, because I thought Tizzy would get to spend time with him. The problem was, any time Tizzy started to act out because he wanted to get out of work, Mr. Hero would come, take Tizzy by the hand, and take him somewhere to draw pictures or play games on a tablet. Of course, when Tizzy was drawing pictures and playing games with Mr. Hero, he was happy and calm. Tizzy really is an awesome little guy when he's in a good mood... he's sweet, polite, funny, and personable. So again and again, I would try to get Tizzy to do some work, he would start to get aggravated, and Mr. Hero would appear to whisk him away. He also suggested that, since Tizzy enjoyed playing on the tablet, he could just play educational games on a tablet all day. (Which I suppose might be okay, except that, once you actually told Tizzy he needed to play certain games and not just record videos of himself making goofy faces, all Hell would break loose once again!)
So basically, Tizzy got zero work done all week. He also got out of going to music, gym, and his inclusion class all week. Plus he came to the conclusion that all of the teachers and assistants that have tried to get him to do his work are just full of beans.
Monday should be an interesting day! Mr. Hero won't be in the building, so I'm not sure if Tizzy will realize that nobody is going to rescue him from his work and he might as well do it, or if he will be swinging upside down from the rafters and yelling obscenities all day long in hopes of getting out of learning his ABC's!