Monday, February 15, 2010

SPED, Threats, and Knives OH MY!

Any teacher can agree that the time span from Christmas break until spring break is the "longest" time of the school year. I can remember at Bethel that the time between Christmas break and spring break seemed like an eternity. There are just so many factors that play into it. There are little to no breaks/days off. The cold and the snow just wears on people (especially at Bethel). Overall, there is just not much to get excited about during this time of year.

Since early January I have been slowly but surly prepping my students for the dreaded ISTEP. For those of you that are not Hoosiers, the ISTEP is the Indiana standardized test that my students have to take. The test is difficult for most children but specifically urban children. The demands the ISTEP makes on students is unreasonable and unpredictable. I teach specific items that I know are going to be on it but every teacher in urban education knows their kids are typically awful test takers and will inevitably struggle with this test. Nevertheless, I am prepping my students to make their way through the uncharted waters that is ISTEP.

Although, how much fun is prepping for a scary standardized test? Sometimes things can get monotonous and I try to through unpredictability their way (like Science and Social Studies). Sometimes, though, students can break up the monotony. Something happened this past Friday that was both shocking and terrifying. My emotionally handicapped student was expelled. What for? Not only did she threaten to stab a 4th grade boy BUT she was storing supplies at school. Other students (not in my class) found a steak knife and box cutter in the womens locker room. After connecting that with her threats heard by students the puzzle was soon solved. Expulsion was the only and correct solution.

What does this mean? This means that all of my hard work for that student is pissed away. The behavioral and academic gains she had been making are now all moot and the achievement gap has expanded for her. It's quite sad. But to every situation there is an up side. I lose a student that was not only one of my lowest academically but one of my lowest behaviorally. She was a student I not only always had to help but always had to watch. It sucks that she's expelled (don't get me wrong she deserved it) but her presence in my classroom tended to hurt my classroom culture.

I apologize, let me explain my title. This female that was expelled was a emotionally handicapped (SPED = Special Education). She made a threat to a 4th grade student (said she would stab him). Lastly, she was expelled for bringing knives to school with the apparent intention of stabbing another student.

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