Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Parents Meeting

I sat in on a meeting of the 8th grade teachers, 2 interventionists, adjustment councelor, principle, and the parents of a 8th grade boy today. Teachers had been observing disruptive bahavior in the classroom even though the boy can do all he work and is mainly successful. Everyone expressed how bright he is and how much excess energy he has. The teachers also said that the football coaches couldn't believe that teachers are having problems with him because he is such a focused leader on the field. It was wonderful to see concerned parents and teachers and I liked the emphasis on helping him succeed. But I couldn't help but wonder if we in society are trying to fit students like him into a box that is not right for them.

Being in public school this week has made me more jittery and bouncy than I have ever felt before. So I wonder, could public schools be the cause of the overdiagnosis of ADD and ADHD? I say that with a smile because I know there is more to it than that. I know medications can help people function normally and I do believe they have a place. But containing young people in one building for all but maybe an hour of the day is torture for some. I guess I just feel for this kid partly because I am trying to work through my own feelings of being trapped in a school all day. I have never had this experience before and I am going stir crazy. I am determined to take kids outside the first chance I have. I have to make it work because this is so unnatural and unhealthy!!! There is still a part of me that cries out "don't let them drug you to make you fit into their box for you in this society...run away!!!!" I cannot completely rid myself of the conspiracy theory of drugs like that, even though I take medications myself.

Kids just need to run around and explore! Why must they be kept under lock and key and hall pass?!? I know now that I would have never survived public schools. NEVER. Thanks Mom and Dad!!!! xo

Monday, September 12, 2005

Self Esteem...gosh am I tired!

Written during Silent Reading time today...

Barbara said in class: "The way to improve students' self esteem is to be really specific about their strengths; avoid language like "good" and "smart"

Why is it that come kids don't listen or know what is going on in class? What are they thinking about? I would feel better if they were day-dreaming about fun and exploratory things, but it is more likely they are thinking about home life, social life, or cruel sick jokes.

On another topic:
It is fine for students to be different (in dress or likes/dislikes), I even encourage it, but they need to know they are doing that and own their identity as such. Problems occur when students don't realize that they wear clothes or do things that others think are silly and they fine out in a harsh manner with much embarrassment. This is where feeling unaccepted often leads to conformity (out of survival, really). But if a student knows they are different and owns that characteristic they can stay strong. Unfortunately I feel like everyone wants to be accepted and so I'm not sure if it is possible to go through secondary education unscathed. I'm sure everyone can remember the terrible feeling when you realize that you are the only one wearing sneakers when everyone else is in sandals or you are the only one in a t-shirt and jeans when everyone else is in shorts. I can certainly remember almost feeling sick and wanting to run back into my closet to find anything better.

But then again, how can people help young people make the decision not to conform and hold to their identity of dress, etc?? If you just ask them if they understand that they look strange to others and want to stay strong, it is still embarrassing because you are still someone giving them the raw truth that they won't fit in. It almost has nothing to do with knowing about how your actual characteristics are viewed and more to do with general self esteem. But not entirely.

There is still that time of coming into self awareness and the awareness of our surroundings. There still is that point of going from just hearing "some people treat others unfairly because of how they look or what they do" to seeing and feeling the sharp painful reality of injustice, bullying, social status, and our "place" in the world. Everyone has to go through that process and decide what to do about our characteristics that we can change and how to live with the ones we can't change.

But how can we help teenagers understand how they appear to others and the choices they have to make about their identity before the wind gets knocked out of them by their peers? Is it possible to save them or help them? Would any teen want to dress as they always have if they were told by a trusted adult "people are going to laugh at you and you need to decide what you are going to do about that and if you want to change?" I have no answers...I need feedback.

I am soooooo tired.