Saturday, February 13, 2010

Reminiscing

IMG_8462 Before I screwed up and moved into administration, I used to teach middle school children with behavior disorders. This experience gave me a lot of tools to use when dealing with adults. Regardless of the oxymoron (because aren’t all middle schoolers behavior disordered to a certain degree?), there were some great stories that came from those years in the classroom.

Charlie (not his real name, dooh!) was a beautiful boy with blond hair and blue eyes and the mouth of a sailor. His mouth got him in trouble, outside my classroom, on a regular basis though, truly, I agreed with most of what he had to say. There were many failed attempts to teach him to other ways to express his ideas. He just needed to cuss.

In a moment of desperation, I asked him to write his feelings down in a notebook when feeling his rage was working up to a blaspheme-fest, then tear up the page because if he still had evidence of potty mouth, there were still too many teachers ready to take him out back and shoot him.

One day, as I was conferencing with a parent about their child’s progress, Charlie came charging into the classroom slamming the door into it’s frame. The parents had a look of fear on their face. I tried to ignore Charlie and carry on with the meeting.

Charlie ran to his desk and grabbed his *special* notebook. I tried not to smile and continued talking with the parents. Their furtive glances over their shoulder at the mad boy frantically scribbling in his notebook made it even harder for me not to laugh. I redirected the parents back to their son and our concerns.

Suddenly, Charlie ripped out several pages from his notebook and began shredding them over the trash can, then ran right back out of the room.

I finished the conference with a huge smile on my face.

I never knew what made him so mad (and I really didn’t care as it was usually something minor). At least on that day, Charlie was a success.

32 comments:

sherri said...

I need to try that. My expletives often get me in trouble.

TechnoBabe said...

Great feedback at the time to see him working it out using your suggestions. Writing it down and shredding might work for lots of us. I am impressed with how you stayed in the present with the parents during the conference and were able to allow Charlie to vent.

Herding Cats said...

Middle school is hard enough, add behavior disorders and man, you've got a LOT to deal with. Sounds like you were amazing at it though!

Matty said...

You are a genius! Why didn't I think of that when my kids were growing up?

Jan said...

"...because aren’t all middle schoolers behavior disordered to a certain degree?"

Oh, HELLZ to the yes. Middle school is the MOST awful time of a kid's life, IMHO. And I think my opinion is valid - I had a kid in middle school for 13 straight years (not the SAME kid, of course - there were five of them all together).

K13 said...

Good story!!! Love that he took the tool(s) you gave him and put them use in his time of need!

Brian Miller said...

woohoo! way to go! i have a kid right now that will only communicate his feelings through writing...it took me about 6 weeks to figure that one out...ack. time half over already!

Judy Haley - CoffeeJitters.Net said...

I love this idea! I need to give this a try myself.

mama-face said...

What a great story. :) I imagine him as a great author tracing all his success to his teacher and the notebook that he used to sort out his feelings...

:)

Paula said...

Charlie will never forget you. Never.

Deb said...

i was able to picture this whole scene perfectly because:
1) my son is blonde
2) my son has blue eyes
3) my son swears WAY more than he should
4) my son is in middle school

ack!

otin said...

We don't call cussing and rage behavior disorders, we call that 7 am in rush hour traffic! LOL!

idgtm said...

A definate Hallmark moment.

rxBambi said...

I have a 17yo cusser. Where the hell were you when she was in middle school? I really wish I had known that trick. She still cusses like a sailor. Whenever I hear it I say "Ahoy Matey!" real loud. It used to work fairly well, but now that she's 17 we are hardly ever in public together.

wow. that's pathetic.

Southern Drawl said...

Good job! I'm so glad I have a blog (notebook!) :)

Mary Freaking Poppins said...

I love it. I taught that too, in a former life... loved it. Miss it. Will one day return, older but hopefully with the same spunk and desire to save the world. Until then... I need a special notebook too! What a great idea.

Sara Plays House said...

Yes! I used this technique with some of my more "colorful" high schoolers.
You rock. And Charlie was totally lucky to have you in his corner.

followthatdog said...

It's fantastic that you thought up a method that helped him cope, even it was only that one episode. Good for you!!!

leslie said...

How wonderful to know you made a difference in that boy's life!

She Writes said...

Every success has potential to change someone! Great idea!

only a movie said...

Great intervention. I've used notebooks like that before too. I've had kids who loved a good debate and would argue anything... but didn't like writing so much. When they got wound up, I'd hand them a notebook and ask them to write their concerns down.
Works with pissed off teenagers too.

Nancy@ifevolutionworks.com said...

Great feeling to know that some advice you offered is working out in a positive way. :)

Kristi Stevens said...

What a great story. And what a wonderful teacher you are - we need about a bazillion more like you.

My name is PJ. said...

I just like you. That's all. Pure and simple.

You've a gift for dealing with children. In my book that makes you head and shoulders above the crowd.

I am a Charlie. I have a private blog that I write in when I'm very angry or very sad. It always brings me back to my usually sterling (cough) disposition.

Elisa said...

That is so funny, my son does the same thing.When he gets upset at me or his Dad rather than backtalking us and getting in more trouble he goes to his room and writes us a "mean " letter as he says.Then when he has got out all his anger he throws it away.
I came in one night to his room after he got in trouble.He was writing( this was when I discovered his letter writing). He said "No, no I'm not through writing yet" laughing I walked back out.He came out a few minutes later and threw the note away and said"Ok I'm through now".
Whatever it takes, it's a good idea.

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

That is a great idea! I have a friend whose son has this problem; I wonder if they've tried this?? I'm gonna check it out!

Joanna Jenkins said...

As the godmother of a special needs potty-mouthed middle schooler, I am inspired!

Great story.

jj

Candice said...

I can relate to Charlie. Sometimes ya just need to curse. ;)

Gaston Studio said...

I so agree that you are a certified genius with this format of "release" for Charlie! I can just picture him in an office setting as an adult, and the curious stares as he takes out his notebook and scribbles furioiusly! Ha!

carma said...

precious!!

AmyLK said...

that's a great idea for Charlie. and it worked at least that one time. Good idea!

kristi said...

I have a private blog for this reason. I posted something last night and then I went back and deleted it. It felt good to let it out.