Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Diary of a First Year Kindergarten Teacher: 16th Entry

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Monday, September 23
Dear Diary,

Needless to say it was a long weekend. I spent most of my time lesson planning on good touch, bad touch. I also emailed the school nurse. I was hoping she'd be able to speak to my students about personal safety, but due to her limited schedule, she just doesn't have the time.
When I came to work today there was a notice of a two-day suspension for Tyrone Whiting in my mailbox. I wasn't able to speak with Ms. Temple, the disciplinarian, or Mrs. Bernard to find out what the next step is for Tyrone because they were in meetings all day.

Pin Me Please!

To my surprise, Katie Thomas was present today. I guess her parents were unable to have her moved to my grade partner's classroom because she arrived in my line this morning. Katie's stepmother offered me a kind smile and simply asked to be notified if Katie had any trouble. Thankfully, there wasn't any for Katie; some of my other students weren't as fortunate.
There were a couple of fights during snack time involving my usual heavy hitters: Devon Wilson, Brandon White,  Christopher Matthews, and Rafael Cruz.
I know it's only the very beginning of the school year but some of my students just aren't comprehending the classroom behavioral expectations.
How do you deal with difficult behaviors in your classroom?

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Diary of a First Year Kindergarten Teacher: 15th Entry


TRIGGER WARNING: Contains sensitive material about sexual assault.
While this is a work of fiction, situations like those depicted in this story do occur in classrooms. I believe it is essential for these stories to be told.  You can't cure a disease without knowing the symptoms first. 

Friday, September 20
Dear Diary,

I stayed late today to tidy up the classroom (It seems that if I don't sweep the floors, vacuum the carpet, wash the tables, and wipe down the bathroom it won't get done.) and get my lesson materials ready for Monday. 
Since I was unable to complete the individual behavior charts yesterday for Devon Wilson, Ramona Johnson and Christopher Matthews, I did them this afternoon.
Sadly, I also had to write a pink slip for one of my students. The behavior was much too serious to leave it undocumented. So in order to cover all of my bases, I was left with only one option. The child needs help and a consistent paper trail is one way to make sure he gets it.
            An incident that I had never conceived of occurred in my classroom this morning. 
            A sexual assault. 
            A sexual assault in kindergarten!  
I was completely blindsided by this. The boy who acted out the harmful behavior was, Tyrone Whiting, one of my better-behaved boys. Thankfully, Miss Mary was present for the incident, so I had a witness as to how I handled the situation.
After a reading of, "No, David!" the children were directed to the tables to draw a picture of David and write the title as best they could. During this time period, Miss Mary was working with a small group of students who needed support to complete the task. 
I was rotating among the tables to offer assistance as needed. I was in the middle of correcting Christopher Matthews for eating his crayons, when I heard a commotion at the table behind me.               
When I turned to face the students seated there, Katie Thomas, Tyrone and Cyrus Jackson were all staring, wide-eyed, at me. I knew immediately that something was wrong.
            "What's going on?" I asked.
Katie told me Tyrone had touched her inappropriately while Cyrus nodded in agreement. Naturally, everyone in the class stopped what they were doing to look at the trio. My mind started spinning as I tried to process what I had just heard. I knew that I had to act quickly before I lost control of the situation. 
I told the children to flip their papers over and draw whatever they wanted on the back. I asked Miss Mary to keep the paper flowing for those who finished their drawings. After that, I separated Tyrone and Katie and called down to the office to report what had happened.
            "Mrs. Conroy will be up in a minute," Ms. Monroe had said.
             Mrs. Conroy is the school counselor.

Pin Me Please!

 By the time Mrs. Conroy entered my classroom, I had taken three separate statements from Katie, Tyrone and Cyrus about the incident. Although Tyrone admitted to touching Katie inappropriately, he said he'd touched her by accident. 
In contrast, Katie and Cyrus stated that they both had told Tyrone to stop what he was doing, and he didn't until Cyrus threatened to tell the teacher.             
When Mrs. Conroy arrived we spoke briefly about what had taken place. She advised me to write a pink slip and an intervention form for Tyrone; she would handle the rest. After that, she left with Katie and Tyrone.
Katie's father, Mr. Thomas, had a few angry words for me at dismissal. "Where were you while this was happening?" "Weren't you paying attention?" "What kind of a teacher let's this happen?"
Katie had gone home shortly after the incident with Tyrone, but her father had returned to pick up his other children. 
I explained to Mr. Thomas that, I wished I had become aware of what was going on with Katie sooner, but I couldn't see what was happening because it had occurred under the table and was out of my line of sight. 
Mr. Thomas didn't seem too happy with my defense, and as a parent, I guess I can understand that. However, there are 25 children in my classroom and I'm dealing with a lot of difficult behaviors.
After I left work at 6:00, I called my husband and told him what had happened with my students. To help lift my spirits, he took me out to dinner. At the restaurant, we sat at the bar, and although I don't usually drink, I had a few glasses of sangria and got a little tipsy.

 Have you ever dealt with a similar situation?