Tuesday, November 22, 2005

At what cost? (And an update at end of post....)

Today one of our teachers was hit hard with a chair by an acting-out student. The kid "rammed" the legs of the metal chair into the teacher's chest.

Word of the attack spread quickly. Eyes widened, concern for our colleague grew. She's okay, we are quickly told. No lasting marks.

Then comes quiet acceptance.

It could just as easily have been any of us.

The reality of the dangers involved with working with emotionally unstable students hovers over us, ignored, unrecognized, dismissed... until something like this happens. Then we are pulled into a swirling frenzy of emotion: worry, resentment, then angry resignation.

What toll does this silent, pulsating sense of dread have on us? How does it affect our professional lives? What impact does this heightened stress have on our personal relationships? No doubt, our bodies feel the burden.

However noble this profession is, how many years am I shaving off my life because of my choice?

And at what point do we let ourselves talk about these important questions?

Finally, why does wondering out loud feel so much like betrayal?

UPDATE...
Needless to say, I wrote the above post soon after the incident, and my feelings were raw. Yes, it might seem overly dramatic to some, (see comment 1) but Ms. Smlph validated it for me.... those of us who repress worry understand what it is to HAVE to face it.

My colleague went home that afternoon, and as the evening wore on, her adrenline wained, and she got teary. She also found an ugly bruise developing over the tender spot of impact.

No charges filed... it was a clinical decision made by the teacher and the social worker and psyc. Hospitalization is in the works instead. Truly a more effective response for this kid at this time.

8 comments:

Amerloc said...

I got most of the way through a very syrupy, idealistic comment, and said "no. ain't posting that" because it didn't ring true. Well, it did, but it got way over the top.

I kind of know the syrupy, idealistic response, but why weren't criminal assault charges filed? If we don't file them, who will? The DA when (s)he does the same thing to a grandmother at a bus-stop?

And I'm tempted to not post this one. Too harsh.

So there you have it, Ms Ris - those last three questions you asked?

Getting out of bed in the morning may kill you. Teaching might too. But so might staying in bed.

We don't talk about these things because they make us uncomfortable, which raises our blood pressure, which might shorten our lives.

It feels like betrayal because it IS betrayal: the real world is betraying our image of it. We (and you) aaren't betraying anything at all. But sometimes it sure feels like it.

Fred said...

Wow - that's unbelievable. Last year, a stuent pushed a teacher into a podium, but that's about all. Nonetheless, it's could've just as easily happened here.

Glad she's okay.

Anonymouph said...

Wow, you've put into words what I feel every time I see a fight at school, an event which, unfortunately, happens a few times a week. In my first year, there was a RIOT at my school with something like 60 kids involved. Chairs were thrown, drinking fountains ripped out of walls, etc... One kid had to be airlifted to a hospital two hours away because his head injuries were so severe.

Obviously, this kind of situation is a little different from the one you've described, but the feeling is the same. I honestly believe that I could someday suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after what I've witnessed.

The only solution I can see for this problem is some kind of intervention with these violent students. Obviously suspending them isn't working...they don't care if they get suspended. We expel them and then let them come back to keep our attendance rates up. More students = more money. Argh. I guess I've ranted enough on your blog.

Thanks for articulating your feelings so well

GuusjeM said...

We've had a nasty biter in our Special Ed classes - as in break the skin,blood and the teacher had to get a tetneus shot type of bite. It happened several times and the child wasn't sent to a more restrictive environment untill he also bit a couple of his classmates and the parents complained. Made everyone at school very nervous and nobody wanted to get near the kid (who was austic).

Mrs. Ris said...

"And the child wasn't sent to a more restrictive environment untill he also bit a couple of his classmates and the parents complained"

This is exactly the kind of thing that makes teachers crazy.... as long as it's only the TEACHER who is hurt, changes aren't necessary. Thank goodness our admin. doesn't see it this way.

Erin said...

"And the child wasn't sent to a more restrictive environment untill he also bit a couple of his classmates and the parents complained"

I had a similar problem with a student last year. He smacked me so hard one day that my glasses literally flew across the room. He would take off his shoes and throw them at me. Unfortunately my principal at the time felt that since "he's only five" that nothing needed to be done about it. Then he hit another student with his shoes and it was a whole other story. Luckily for me, I have a new principal this year who would never allow a teacher to be abused by a student....and we've found a more appropriate placement for this child.

QueenAnne said...

As a teacher and a parent of an autistic child, I think it is very important to help these children not act out but teachers and administrators are the ones for this issues. It is biomedicine and I will briefly explain here.

During the past 4 years research has been going involving toxicity issues with autism and adhd/add as well as OCD. My son is involved in this experimental medicine which involves chelation, taking B-12 shots, and supplements like an HIV patient. Within two months, my son was making eye contact and had normal bowels. By six months,
we regain all lost speech and many of the bad behavioral issues like hitting and biting. To date, he still toe-walks and while talking does not have fluid speech. He can read at first/second grade level (he's in first grade) and his math is at a beginning first grade level. Math is his weaker area. He gets 15 hours of ABA per week and he likes it. He is on chelation 3 days on and 4 days off which is giving him DMSA and ALA every three hours starting on Friday @ 3PM and ending Sunday @ midnight. We have been doing this for 2 years now. This year is our last year with chelation.

I am not the only parent doing using this approach with a child. You could read more about the toxicity connection which set-up viral overloads with these children at www.autismmedia.com At the site, click on media center. Once at the media center click on Autism-Vaccine connection - I would suggest Dr. Geier, Dr. Horig, and Dr. Wakefield as great starting points. There is a Virginia doctor too - Dr. Mumper that you may want to listen too because she is in the middle of replicating Wakefield's work.

I feel after doing this approach with my son that many more students could be helped so that we could help educate them. We can't educate them if they are sick - and I do believe that these children are sick because of heavy metals with viral overloads.

I would have never thought in a million years that I would have a special needs child since I already had a gifted child (in addition I do not drink, smoke, and live a varily healthy lifestyle) but here I am with one such child.

As teacher, I realize that for the education to occur who got to have the whole child.

This is an area for the politicians and the medical community to come to terms with. Until they do I am afraid that our jobs will be difficult to carry out.

Two great books that discuss these ramifications are Evidence of Harm by David Kirby (www.evidenceofharm.com) and Children with Starving Brians by Dr. McCandless.

If you would like to see one of the US Senate sub-committees on tape, you may want to check the shocking video at www.factsformedia.com.

I feel everyone pain here and I glad to here that there is an administrator that realizes that teachers should not have to take it. At the same time, biomedical information needs to get to the parents.

Amerloc said...

Mrs. Ris -

Didn't mean in that first comment to imply that your feelings were over the top. Meant that my first drafted response was. Sorry for incoherence.