Monday, October 26, 2009

Is Ignorance bliss (or "if I wanted this I would have gone into the army)

Goal of the week: Noise

Get the noise level down in my room so I can think and the students can hear me.

Thought of the day: Is ignorance bliss?

I was teaching my 4th and second to last class of the day. My students we doing fairly well with the activity because it was more "hands-on." I was instructing them to the next step of what should happen for their activity and all of a sudden 3 cops burst through my classroom door.

I was a little shocked. I asked them if I could help them with something and they mumbled something that I don't recall. I saw them scanning the room. They found what they were looking for in the form of one of my students that I've been painfully working to get involved in class.

They all moved towards him like animals stalking prey - quickly and stealthily. They went up behind him and said "hands behind your back." Within seconds he was handcuffed and they put him on the floor. He did not struggle as 3 grown men held him down.

The whole class was silent. They all just watched in fear and confusion.

The police men asked my student where "it" was. He calmly responded "in my backpack" - which was on his back. They took his backpack and picked him up off the ground by his arms. I wanted to step in and tell them not to hurt them, but thought better of it because these police officers didn't look like they were in a talking mood.

After they left carrying my student, the whole class burst into bedlam. Students were loudly talking about how scared they were, how stupid the student was, and a host of other related topics.

I had no clue what was going on.

Apparently, this student had a loaded handgun in his backpack. He'd been showing it around at lunch and someone told on him.

As I walked to my desk, I saw his hat on the floor. He loves his hat and I finally got him to take it off when in the classroom without being told. Small victories. He's a nice kid but he doesn't come most of the time and when he is here he just throws the other students off track with talking. I finally found out why he doesn't attempt to do any work except when someone he is friends with is there to copy off of. He has a 2nd grade reading level. We did a literacy test two weeks ago and I looked at the data for all of my students.

I'm extremely conflicted. This kid is a smart enough kid... he's just been passed on and he can't read at a high level. There's no way he can succeed in my room because the reading level is so far beyond him. He's given up before he even started, and I frankly don't blame him. I like him but I can't help him. He can only help himself at this point and it will be a long, hard road ahead. I know there are people out there who can help him but I don't know if he knows that. I feel great concern for his welfare knowing that he is going to go through life without an education or the literacy level to really succeed. What type of options does he have in this world without being able to use the written word?

On the other hand - he brought a weapon capable of deadly force into the room. I thought about this as I picked up his hat and saved it for him. I knew he'd come back for it because he loved that hat so. One part of me was scared. What if that gun (which was loaded) had gone off? What if he didn't like me or decided I was picking on him and he wasn't going to take it anymore? What if another student saw it and started playing with it and hurt themselves, others, or me? What if what if what if?

Now, as sympathetic as I am to his life and outcome... he has no right to endanger the safety of others. No one has that right. Not in my room or anywhere. I feel so torn right now. My physical safety and the safety of those I'm responsible for were taken away. Maybe they knew it all along and didn't comprehend but I do. I do and I don't feel safe in my own classroom anymore.

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