I blogged about initial and end of the year assessments yesterday. Today I would like to blog about what I feel is just as important if not more so when it comes to kindergarten readiness. When I taught in the public schools, my big concern when school started was whether each child walking through my door would have the self-control to learn how to control their impulses.

About ten years ago, I got a new student after labor day. I had recently had a bunionectomy and had just had my cast removed. I was wearing a soft shoe to protect that foot but I hobbled over to welcome my new charge. He had not been in the room more than a second when he started screaming at the top of his lungs and ran for the door. I went out after him and took his arm. He turned around and dug his hard soled shoe into the foot that had recently been operated on. The pain literally blindsided me and I released him. The Principal  gave chase and finally caught him and brought him to the office kicking and screaming. Over the next few months, he threw tables, hit children, kicked me, and was basically out of control. This is the behavior in the public schools that I do not miss. I ended up having to go back in for more surgery because the marrow got infected where the child broke the bones in the top of my foot.  I spent the remainder of the school year in a knee high cast because my foot wouldn't heal properly. This child simply did not have the capability to control his impulses. If he had to follow through on a difficult task, he would get frustrated and lose control. He was eventually taken out of my classroom and placed in a residential setting. 

Two years later, during the first day of school, I heard a child yell "Hi, Mrs. B!" I turned around and probably looked like I had just stuck my finger in an electric socket. I wouldn't be surprised if my hair stood up on top of my head when I saw him running toward me. Can you picture me standing there going "Ackkkkkk!"  in fear? My first impulse was to run in the other direction.  He ran up gave me a big hug and  definitely  did not act like the child I had known two years earlier.  

He was placed in a smaller class setting  that year and did well. He even told another teacher that he had not been nice to Mrs. B when he was in kindergarten but he didn't know why. I am glad that the child is doing better now but what about the year I had him in kindergarten? I had to spend so much time trying to keep him from hurting the other 25 children  and me that I know I wasn't as effective as I could have been. How fair was that to my other students for the six months he spent with us? How many teachers have to deal with this kind of behavior in some schools on a daily basis?

Every morning that I drive to the private Christian school I now work in, I say a silent prayer of thanks. My students have the self-control to listen to me give directions for more than a few minutes. I haven't had a child who was out of control or a discipline problem since I started there three years ago. Would I ever go back to the public schools? No! I feel so fortunate now to be able to do what I was trained to do. I get to spend all  of my time teaching!


32 comments

  1. My Lipstick Life // March 29, 2010 at 9:01 PM  

    Argh, I have one of those kids this year - in private Christian preschool. He never hurts or lashes out at me or my aide but he does hurt the other kids. I do feel like I am spending as inordinate amount of time working with him to the detriment of the others in the classroom. But sometimes I feel like I am the only one who loves him UNCONDITIONALLY on a regular basis. Breaks my heart. Great post :)

  2. Ms. Anthropy // March 29, 2010 at 9:06 PM  

    And you still have hair left?

  3. VKT // March 29, 2010 at 9:09 PM  

    At least he doesn't try to hurt you Lipstick! That is a very good thing.

  4. VKT // March 29, 2010 at 9:09 PM  

    No, Ms.....I am totally bald now. Kiddingggggggggggggggg

  5. Alicia // March 29, 2010 at 9:13 PM  

    I definitely have to deal with that kind of behavior in my classroom! He hasn't hurt me yet, thank God! I'm so sorry about your foot!

  6. Heather // March 29, 2010 at 10:12 PM  

    The kids in my stepmom's classroom are pretty bad! She's having a problem now with Oral sex, and inappropriate touching!!! IN FIRST GRADE!!! Can you believe it?!?! She told me she just doesn't enjoy teaching anymore because of all the problems she has to deal with. It's so sad :(

  7. Debbie(single;complicated) // March 29, 2010 at 10:19 PM  

    what an awful thing to happen!!! I am such a proponent of kids being READY!! we rush them through..and start them early and sometimes they just cannot handle it! and its the other kids in the class who pay the price!! BTW I got my star bucks card..thank you for that blessing!!!

  8. Bernie // March 30, 2010 at 1:56 AM  

    There is a special place in heaven for you my friend....:-) Hugs

  9. Theresa Milstein // March 30, 2010 at 6:56 AM  

    One kid can make or break a class. I'm sorry your class and foot were broken by this one small child. At least he's improved.

    My daughter's kindergarten class had so many kids with a variety of problems that I was amazed the children learned anything.

  10. carissa @ lowercase letters // March 30, 2010 at 10:21 AM  

    that is crazy!!! this is precisely why our children will be in private school (as long as we can afford it!). i so wish vouchers would've happened.

  11. redwray // March 30, 2010 at 11:16 AM  

    It must be horrible to have to deal with such a violent small child. I've heard other stories.
    Wonder how they get that way.
    Glad you are where you are. It's nice to enjoy your job.
    Wray

  12. Anne // March 30, 2010 at 11:26 AM  

    I wonder too, redwray, how kids get that way. VKT, can you shed any light on it?

    There's always a kid in class that, even if they aren't violent, they NEED so much more attention and do whatever it takes to get it. I do see it taking time away from the other children's learning experience. Does it start at home? Are they born that way? Do we just not know for sure?

    I was glad to read that your little buddy matured and seemed to pull out of his bad behavior.

    We are so blessed to have such a great daughter...

  13. Jo // March 30, 2010 at 12:35 PM  

    Did the parents ever offer an explanation as to his violent behavior?

    That's horrible what you and the others had to endure but also a testament to his his parents that they agreed to do the right thing and remove him to be placed in a more fitted setting to his needs.

    You know, Ed (hubby) and I say it all the time; it makes us sick to see all these celebrities, sports stars, high end attorney's etc. to be so grossly over paid when, really, it is the teachers who teach everyone everything they need to know in life.

    Bless you and those of you out there doing the true hard job that deserves the pay that goes along with what you endure and do on a daily basis.

    Peace and serenity,
    ~Jo

  14. mommymommymommy // March 30, 2010 at 2:42 PM  

    I am a fellow teacher and new follower! Thank you for following mine!

    http://keepitsimplesister-mommymommymommy.blogspot.com/

  15. Choices // March 30, 2010 at 5:12 PM  

    There definitely something to be send about the wonders of Private School. You are a lucky lady!

  16. Sarah Lindahl // March 30, 2010 at 5:18 PM  

    SThis is the one topic that tends to get my blood pressure up when it comes to teaching. MY job is to teach the kids. The KID'S job is to come to school to learn. If there is even one kid like the one you described, I can't do my job. That is upsetting. It's not that we can't handle it, it's that we shouldn't have to.

  17. Debbie // March 30, 2010 at 8:29 PM  

    Fascinating. My kids have always attended public schools but the elementary school they went to did a great job of getting those type of kids out of the classroom fairly fast.

  18. Stacey // March 31, 2010 at 8:27 AM  

    WOW - makes me say another prayer for all the elementary teachers today! We do not realize just what you go through. I have to joy of seeing my husband (pastor) get beat up by the church members this week. How fun is that?

  19. VKT // March 31, 2010 at 8:52 AM  

    Alicia,

    Universities need to prepare elementary teachers for this kind of behavior. I don't recall any class that told me to expect this...do you? I really empathize with these children, but I also worry about the other children as well. The amount of instructional time taken away from them is unfair.

  20. VKT // March 31, 2010 at 9:40 AM  

    Heather,

    With what many children have to face in their home situation these days, yes, I do believe it. It is really sad.

  21. VKT // March 31, 2010 at 9:48 AM  

    Amen Debbie! I agree completely. Children in Kindergarten can learn so much through play. I am so glad you got it...you are a blessing!

  22. VKT // March 31, 2010 at 9:53 AM  

    Dear Bernie,

    I know God is preparing a very special place for you in Heaven!

  23. VKT // March 31, 2010 at 9:55 AM  

    Isn't that the truth Theresa! I am sure your daughter was one of the quiet ones who went with the flow.

  24. VKT // March 31, 2010 at 9:57 AM  

    Carissa,

    So do I! When my daughter was a freshman in high school, we moved her from a public to a private school. She came in with straight a's in all honors courses....and almost flunked out her first year in private school. What does that say about the public school she attended???? We hired tutors and got her caught up. My only regret is that we didn't start her in ninth grade instead of tenth.

  25. VKT // March 31, 2010 at 10:00 AM  

    Redway,

    What some of those children have to deal with at home is frightening. When I was working in the public schools, I brought a child home after a free tutoring session to have the mother open the door with white powder around her nostril. My guess is it wasn't powdered sugar.

  26. VKT // March 31, 2010 at 10:03 AM  

    Dear Anne,

    Often those children are neglected at home. The child that stomped my foot was a foster child in a home with approximately six other children....many also foster kids. He was taken from his mother early in his life for whatever reason.

    I have had students whose mothers looked more like they could be their sister than their mother. Children raising children.....! Those are a few of the reasons. I could write a post about this.

  27. VKT // March 31, 2010 at 10:05 AM  

    Jo,

    He was a foster child. His foster mother was cooperative and did agree for him to be placed elsewhere. Unfortunately, there were so many t's to cross and i's to dot, that it took awhile to get through the red tape in order to get his needs met.

  28. VKT // March 31, 2010 at 10:05 AM  

    Looking forward to it Mommymommymommy!

  29. VKT // March 31, 2010 at 10:06 AM  

    Choices,

    I am indeed. I say a prayer of thanksgiving every day that I drive to my current school. Seriously!

  30. VKT // March 31, 2010 at 10:08 AM  

    Dear Sarah,

    It did get my blood pressure up...literally. It is back down to normal now. I agree that we should not have to deal with that kind of behavior. I worry most about the time taken away from the sweet cooperative children who are there and want to learn.

  31. VKT // March 31, 2010 at 10:11 AM  

    Debbie,

    In the thirty-one years I worked in the public schools, I watched the number of students with special needs triple. I am not talking about kids who occasionally misbehave. I am talking about some serious behavior issues. Your children were fortunate that the school system they were in moved quickly to deal with problems. Mine was a very big system that covered a lot of square miles. I often think that when the county and city merged, it got too big.

  32. VKT // April 1, 2010 at 9:18 PM  

    Seriously Stacey?