I got the pleasure to observe a ninth grade boy in a World History Class. I will refer to this student as B. B is a fourteen year old Latino young man who lives in a broken home. From what | learned from the other teachers, B’s family has learned that his younger sister has cancer and will be spending the holidays in the hospital. After the news of his sister hit him, his behavior has gotten more and more distracting. He said to the coteacher, “My life sucks at home and my parents are constantly at the hospital.
This is a young man who is starving for attention and will get it any way he can. In this world history class of twenty-four there are eighteen students with Individual Education Plans. B is one of four students in the class that have behavior and or emotional challenges. B often shows that he is very impulsive and loves to be the center of attention. Some of the behaviors I observed were, dancing in his seat with arms a flaring and often says inappropriate things to seek social acceptance. This makes it hard for the lead teacher, Ms. Smith to keep a structured learning environment.
The teacher had to sit him in the back of the class because of the visual distraction this can be to the other students. He forgets his work and instead of asking for another worksheet he puts his head down on his desk with his hoodie over his head and checks out. His excuses for not having the work or materials needed for class is that he says it is in his other backpack, he left it at home, or he lost it. The co-teacher, Mrs. M, in the class kept a tally chart and written data as to when each student needed to be prompted to get back on task. B often turned to check to see how many tallies he had that day.
He had a deal with the Mrs. M that his goal was to keep it down to five prompts per class. I found this to be more of a discouragement for him. I noticed that once he reached that fifth tally mark he would then just gave up. B. seems like a student that wanted to succeed and seems that he doesn’t mean to be compulsive, but often acts out before thinking. After observing B and looking over the data that was collected by Mrs. M and the behavior that I witnessed in the two short hours was that of a struggling teenager trying to find his way in life.
He has a broken home and a home where parent’s attention is now focused on his younger sister. He even mentioned to me that there is no one at home that helps him. This is a fourteen year-old that is currently raising himself. B is looking for attention in all the wrong ways. There is no structure in his home life; therefore it carries over to his school life as well. This kid is starving for structure and boundaries. I think the dancing in his seat only occurs during the time he is participating in the instruction or assignment.
This is more of a happy dance because he either got a question write or felt that he was learning the material being presented. Again, implosive, but not intended to be distracting. There was a situation witnessed, where Mrs. M tapped B on the shoulder when he was dancing and B was shocked. I honestly do not think he even realized what he was doing. Maybe a system can be in place that will give B the freedom to show some excitement when he is doing well. Now for the blurting out of inappropriate comments, this is merely to seek attention from others.
He seems to love to be the center of attention, because he lacks any form of attention outside of the school day. The comments that would come out would be, “YES! “, “NO WAY MAN”, “S*#@”, “You’re stupid” and “I need a pencil”. Some of these comments are not inappropriate, but the timing of them was. His comments caused others to laugh at him and or get upset because comments were hurtful. Which then took Ms. Smith a minute or so to get the class back focused on the content that was being taught.
Now the laying down his head, his took place only when he either had a bad class before he came to World History or he did not have or understand the work that was being gone over in class. Ms. M told me that B often got in trouble with administration for a number of reasons. This put him in a funk but shows me that he cares and does not like to get in trouble. He is looking for boundaries and wanting to do good, just influenced by his surroundings. The problem with B laying his head down, he is losing valuable instructional time and then is going to be lost when it comes time to test what he knows.
There needs to be a game plan in place when this behavior occurs. Bis a good young man, just needs a little more guidance as to what is acceptable and what is not. If you do not teach it, then they do not know. There needs to be more re-teaching as to what is appropriate and what is not as well as what is expected from him. He needs and is starving for structure and nurturing. Maybe setting up a time to meet with him after school or during his study hall to come up with strategies that will help him be successful in school will benefit him in the long run.