Super, can’t wait

Yesterday, as I’ve said, was a day of meetings, one of which was a more or less bog-standard staff meeting at the end of the day. One of the lines on the agenda just read “new student,” which got a bit of a raised eyebrow out of me, as that’s not normally something that’s considered a big enough deal to be with discussing at a staff meeting. Students come and go all the time, so the notion that the entire staff needed to discuss one was a sign that something not especially good was on the way.

Sometimes I hate it when I’m right.

I’ve gone back and forth a couple of times on whether I want to go into detail on how the meeting actually went, but suffice it to say that it was one of those meetings where an awful lot of reading between the lines was necessary, as for various reasons, some of them even reasonable, I think the special ed teacher and the principal both felt somewhat restricted on, shall we say, deploying the full measure of their honesty. I’m an idiot with a website who isn’t even naming the city my school is in, though, so I can be somewhat more direct.

We have a new student coming in Monday. That’s not a problem. He’s autistic. That’s also not a problem.

He’s a sex offender with litigious parents, and that very much is a problem. Two separate problems, in fact.

I am fairly certain of those last two points. Slightly less certain but still likely is that the kid is a porn addict and quite possibly a compulsive masturbator. We are required to keep an adult literally at his side for one hundred percent of the time he is in the building except when he is in the bathroom, and when he is in the bathroom he is to use either a one-seat faculty bathroom or the bathroom in the nurse’s office– he is not allowed in any of the student bathrooms under any circumstances. Furthermore, when they tell us the adult needs to be “at his side” for “100% of the time,” what that means is that if that adult happens to need the bathroom, they must get someone to come relieve them at the boy’s side before they leave the room, and it cannot be the classroom teacher. He must have his own, separate adult. He is not allowed to touch other students.

Oh, and he is to be “encouraged” to exit the bathroom immediately if he is in there for more than three minutes. There might be other explanations beyond “he’s in there jerking off,” but … well.

Dad has apparently already threatened to sue the district on more than one occasion and the boy has not started yet, nor have we managed to hire someone to be his full-time minder, so the schedules of every other special ed student in the building are getting fucked over so we can accommodate this one kid. And again, this is all conjecture, but I’ve been in teaching long enough to be able to hear people telling me without telling me. I’d bet money that the kid got caught doing something with a younger cousin or something similar. I’ve never even heard of anyone needing this level of special ed support in mainstream classes. It’s fucking ludicrous.

Luckily for me, he’s a seventh grader, so I won’t have to deal with him until next year, if he sticks around, and … well, I’ve already indulged my inner gambler, so I’m going to climb back out on that limb and suggest that he won’t last that long one way or another. He’ll either do something that justifies us expelling him or his parents will get pissed at us and yank him.


That wasn’t on purpose.

Either way, I’m so excited about this.

Want some, come on and get some!

Some of my parents must think I’m new, I swear.

Just came out of an IEP meeting that went abruptly south when the parent decided to start casting blame far and wide for her kid’s seven current failing grades. Now, here is the thing: I am fully aware of how hard this must be for a lot of our parents. I am keeping track of one child while trying to keep up with my actual students and doing my job to the best of my ability and it is difficult. I am not keeping track of more than one, the extra kids that I don’t have to keep track of aren’t at multiple grade levels, and as things go my actual child tends to be pretty self-sufficient in a lot of ways. And it is still hard.

Now, what that means is that I’m bending over backwards to make sure my students have access to me. They have my phone number, and know they can call or text me basically anytime between 8 AM and 10 PM. I am online in a Google Meet for about four and a half hours a day every single day so that they can come in and ask questions, and I am monitoring my email whenever I am awake. There are no penalties for late work on any of my assignments, and I’ll even allow unlimited retries for anything a student wants to redo. I have posted personally-recorded video lessons for every single piece of new content we’ve done that they can access any time they want through the magic of the Interwebs.

(I am actually at my computer during my lunch break right now, too, because I have kids testing. I’ve left this desk twice in the last three hours– once to pee, and once to get some cold pizza from the fridge.)

This is not for cookies. I don’t want praise. This is because I think what I’m doing is the minimum amount of flexibility teachers should be showing right now. But what this also means is that if you try and come at me for not teaching your child when your child hasn’t taken advantage of any of these opportunities, I may not be entirely sympathetic, and when you try and blame me specifically for your student’s failure I’m going to start bringing out receipts.

Because I have them. I can see every time you’ve logged in to check your kid’s grades, for example, and I see that you’ve done so repeatedly over the last few weeks, so don’t even try and pretend that you didn’t know he was failing. I can also search my own email, so when you claim you’ve emailed and talked to all his teachers? I never delete anything, ma’am. I can assure you that you have not.

Oh, and I see that your email is here on Google Classroom, which means that you’ve been receiving my weekly emails about everything we’re doing in class, all of which contain my phone number and constant reinforcement to contact me if you have any questions or any needs at all that I can be helpful with.

I am not the one, God damn it, so don’t try it. Just don’t.

In which I memorize

We’ve just finished the third week of school, and I’ve probably spent most of the past three weeks breaking the law in some form or another. That folder there is full of special ed documentation about my many, many special education students. There are, right now, 22 dossiers in that folder, ranging from three to thirty-some-odd pages long. Some are for students I don’t actually have in my classes and have never met. I’m legally responsible to have read and understood (and “understood” in this case should be taken to mean “memorized”) the documentation on each of those kids. And I am absolutely certain that I don’t have all of my IEPs yet, and am even more certain that I don’t have all my BIPs yet, as I don’t have any at all from seventh or eighth grade.

Here’s the thing: special ed paperwork, and the idea of an “individualized education profile,” or IEP, is a very good idea in theory that has gone terribly wrong in practice. It’s much like Communism in that regard. The idea that a student with disabilities shouldn’t be educated in the same manner as a student without those disadvantages is a good one. The idea that special education students deserve the same access to a quality education as other students is a good one.

The idea that I’m supposed to memorize, on average, fifteen pages of accommodations for each of my twenty-some odd students, and that one person is supposed to write these IEPs for what could be dozens of kids with special ed needs in a low-income building, is insane. It can’t be done, and great special ed teachers are getting driven out of the field because half of what they do now is push around stacks of paper, and then endlessly revise those stacks of paper based on federal and state and local guidelines that can’t ever seem to stay consistent for more than a week or two at a time. It’s freaking madness.

And then there are the BIPs, or Behavior Intervention (I think) Plans. I support the concept behind the IEP, if not the way they’re implemented. Half the time I think BIPs are bullshit. I’ll be honest: I still haven’t sussed out what the distinction is between a kid who ends up with a BIP and a kid who is an asshole. It probably has something to do with whether they think the kid’s assholism is an actual disorder or not. What they basically are is a list of steps that you’re supposed to follow with Little Johnny Special Snowflake when he’s fucking up so that you can get him back on track– steps that don’t have to be followed for any other student. While it’s not supposed to mean this, frequently in practice a BIP means that LJSS can get away with shit that would get other students literally crucified– because LJSS is just too much of an asshole to be expected to conform to regular behavioral norms.

But whatever, right? I adapt my disciplinary methods to the individual student I’m dealing with all the time. In other contexts– hell, right here on this blog– I’ve defended not nailing a kid to a wall for something that might have me reaching for a hammer with another student. I get it, even though it annoys the piss out of me.

Here’s the problem: BIPs have to be seen and signed by every adult who works in a school who could conceivably come in contact with a kid. Not just the teachers. Every adult. So, like, bus drivers and cafeteria staff and custodians and the lady who does photocopying on Wednesdays are in theory supposed to have read and memorized the BIPs for every student who has one that they could possibly come into contact with. Some of us (me, for example) could theoretically come into contact with every single student in the building.

I have BIPs in this folder for students who I have literally never met, who are not in my grade or my wing of the building, who I may never have in my class. I may not be able to pick Jenny Fucknut or Johnny Fingerbang out of a lineup, but I’d sure as shit better know their BIPs so if I happen to encounter them freaking the fuck out in the hallway I can calmly redirect them or go through their deep breathing exercises or whatever the fuck; it’s not like I’ve read the damn things yet. All of that without knowing their names, because frequently when these kinds of kids do lose their shit they’re likely to tell me that their name is Go Fuck Yourself, and I don’t have a BIP for him.

Seriously; the people in the cafeteria line are expected to know these things. Gimme a fucking break.

(The good news? I have very little grading to do this weekend, and my lesson plans are done for next week, so at least there’s a chance in hell that I’ll end up getting to them at some point.)