First day back at school after winter break went pretty well. Most of the boys came back refreshed and ready to work. Not quite as much excitement about Christmas and what Santa had brought them as I'd expected, but then again it was a very long break this year--guess there was enough time for the novelty of new toys to wear off.
We did have one little guy who did not want to come back. The bus driver reported that he'd screamed off and on during the ride to school. This is a kid with a lot of anxiety, who spends a great deal of time worrying about the other kids 'breaking the rules'. He just wants everyone to do as they're told and toe the line! If an adult has to tell another student 'no', he points an accusing finger and SHRIEKS at the top of his lungs. And if an adult raises their voice? Forget it. Unfortunately, raised voices are pretty common this year. We've got a couple of kids who won't back down for anything less than a disciplinarian tone, not to mention that the general noise level in the classroom is so high that we wind up raising our voices just to be heard. On a good day we can manage to calm our anxious boy down or at least help him to use his words. Poor little guy doesn't have a whole lot of language to express his anxiety and frustration.
Today was not a good day by any means. There was a whole lot of shrieking and finger-pointing going on.
Did I mention that the noise level in the classroom tends to be just a trifle on the LOUD side?
Apparently two weeks off is enough time for me to forget just how loud--not to mention grating--it is when a student screams, "Eeeeeeeeeeeee!" for extended periods of time. When this kid (I should mention that this student is a different student than the boy who shrieks and points his finger!) was in the classroom next door, I used to think the one classroom aide was a little off her rocker. We'd hear this little guy screaming and I'd say something along the lines of, "Wow, little 'Jimmy' is having a rough day today, huh?"
And half the time she'd answer, "Oh, no, that's his happy scream."
But it's true! The pitch and tone are always the same, but based on his facial expression and body language, yep, 'Jimmy' definitely has a variety of reasons for screaming. Today was all happy screams, but damn that non-stop "Eeeeeeeeeeee!" was getting to me.
In desperation, I put some music on the CD player to distract him. Normally I'll just play the music on low volume, but with the decibel level already enough to make the average person's ears bleed, I decided to try something new... Headphones. 'Jimmy' had never worn headphones before, and immediately pulled them off when I put them on his head.
The expression on his face when the music inexplicably stopped was priceless. For the next ten minutes he explored the headphones, putting them on and pulling them off over and over again--mercifully silent the entire time.
Fortunately by the end of the week I'll be able to tune out the screaming; it's amazing to me how much repetitive noise a person can just learn to ignore.
At the end of the day, I met with the regular ed. kid I mentor. In theory this is supposed to be me providing extra encouragement to a fourth grade kid who's kind of on the edge... Not so bad off behaviorally or academically that he needs major intervention, just a little extra help. I monitor his homework and encourage him to be an upstanding little classroom citizen.
Mostly, I bribe him with the promise of a treat on Fridays if he's had a good week.
This kid is always trying to weasel extra treats out of me! Usually he starts in on Wednesday afternoon. Today, Monday, he's in rare form. This is the conversation, verbatim:
'Mentee' aka Mini Mooch: "Can I have a treat today? I was good today."
Me: "Yes you were good today! I'm proud of you. You can have a treat on Friday as long as the rest of the week goes well. That's our deal."
"You should give me a treat today because you haven't seen me in so long."
I point out that he got an extra-special treat before winter break--"Don't you remember the chocolate Santa, cookies and Pez dispenser I gave you?"
"That was two weeks ago. You didn't give me anything at all last Friday."
"We weren't in school last Friday!"
"I know. You owe me."
Kids. Gotta love 'em.