Thursday, November 26, 2009

A teacher tells us about her friend

Posted by - Jyoti Honkote, English (Primary)

I had first seen him in the activity room going around in circles with the sole object of being continuously busy, climbing the slide, going under the tables, occasionally stopping to minutely examine a new object and abandoning it after some time.

Not really knowing what I would be in for, I opted to take up the challenge of being his class teacher. As a free gift I got cute little Asha. I have a little study about her too but let us go to that later.

My friend is seven years old and pretty strong. He refuses to make any eye contact. He drones most of the time.  Initially, he kept to himself, but as he became familiar to the new environment, he started exploring his surroundings.  He purposely falls over his classmates. Sometimes he starts shouting as if he is angry about something. On such occasions he literally prowls the class and grabs some new type of compass box, crayon or pencil, anything that catches his fancy.  What amazed me is the way the children handle him. They ignore his ‘sound levels’, his unusual behavior and only look at him warily when he comes near. Only when he takes anything that is theirs, do they protest. Some give him a tough fight.

  I was told that he went to a special teacher. Here he got the one to one attention that he needed for his development. I went to meet her and watch her methods. I was astonished at the manner in which he put together a train set within no time. He then demanded for animals to arrange around the tracks. He also built a relatively complicated vehicle using the pieces of meccano by looking at the guidance manual. Once my friend wants anything, whether it be a piece of a toy or a particular crayon he becomes obsessed with it and will not be satisfied with alternate articles, however interesting they be. He just throws away the other ‘offerings’ with venom.

Occasionally, his explorations have yielded rich dividends in the other classes. At the sight of his familiar face, children just scream warnings and instantly hide their goodies. He loves circular movements and many of the benches of room no. 7 have been colored white with crayons. My friend can read quite well, in fact he loves to do so. He loves new colorful books and eagerly searches for his favorite animal - The Elephant. He repeats the word with great joy. He named all the familiar creatures on a new chart that was put on display. But he liked the elephant the most.  He seems quite intelligent.  He refuses to copy from the board. He cooperates after several efforts but even that is short lived. I find it extremely difficult to give him the kind of attention that he needs. If I could do so I would have been able to tap the intelligence and talent that he definitely possesses.

Below are some specific observations.

1st October- We had EVS oral and Drawing exam. My friend seemed out of sorts. He didn’t respond to my request to take out his colors and when I took it out for him he just threw all of them on the ground. He was alternately wailing and screaming. After he took away another child’s white colour and kept it for sometime, did he become quiet. I gave him two books to go through. He searched for his favourite ‘elephant’. Then he kept himself busy joining the dots and tracing pictures of animals.

4th November – We met again after a long and relaxing vacation.  We had Craft.  Marble paper had been distributed to all. As instructed, my friend made a triangle fold.  I demonstrated how to make ‘ Aeroplane’  to the class. I made one and flew it towards him.  He was delighted.  He flew his paper plane in my direction and a ten minute game ensued. His squeals of delight were a treat to hear.  Another remarkable breakthrough was that he was making eye to eye contact, he was actually communicating. 

6th November – The moment I entered the class, I got three written complaints. I knew what they were about even before reading them. My friend had torn two workbooks and broken a compass and a water bottle the previous day. Since he does not copy from the board, he has plenty of free time. When his classmates don’t show him their possessions he simply takes them by force. Sometimes he only throws them away again. When he faces opposition all hell breaks loose. There is no stopping him then. He is big for his age. Even I am not able to control him then. I tackled the irate parents as well as I could.

Anyway today was ‘water-bottle inspection’ day. Finding nothing new in the class, my friend strolled out. He looked closely at all the new varieties of water-bottles, changed their places and then poured water from one to the other and back again.

ANOTHER BREAKTHROUGH - My friend copied six words from the board after a lot of motivation.

12th November – My little terror has been giving a lot of trouble. He just doesn’t sit quietly in his place. He is becoming more and more aggressive.  His curiosity for new things drives him to take others things. He will give back everything eventually, when he loses interest in it. But the other children are 5-6 year olds. They get agitated and fight with him or come to complain. It is becoming extremely difficult to keep him busy. He bit two children. I have run out of ideas to keep him occupied. The rest of the 71 students of my class also need my attention.

14th November – My friend’s special teacher has requested us to allow a shadow teacher to be with him all the time. She will handle him all the time. This will allow him to experience normal classroom situations and continue interaction with others. I have to put this in front the school committee on Monday. Let us see what is decided.

17th November – Our school, being always ready to do all that is required to help, has agreed to allow a shadow teacher to be with him in the class. I hope this scheme will be successful.

19th November –Yesterday was the Annual Sports day of our class.  We went in a long line to D.S.F. Sports ground.  Under his father’s watchful eye, my little friend was a little mouse. He participated in everything enthusiastically and obeyed all the instructions given by Sir. Once we came back to class, he was his usual aggressive self. I think he knows that he has nothing to fear from us lady teachers.

Today was a long awaited day. The Trip to Veer Savarkar Udyan.  My friend seemed familiar with the place. He was very excited to see a large model of his favourite elephant. He happily kept on touching and naming it. Then he went on to the other models. He played and roamed around freely. He did not once fight with, push or trouble anyone. Maybe the classroom situation claustrophobic to a child like him.

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