The Defiant Child | "He's on the Roof!"
"Please report any accidents or unusual occurrences to the school office."
This is an item on a checklist often given to a substitute teacher upon arrival at the assignment.
When I read it, it made think of some of the unusual experiences I had experienced.
I remembered the nine-year-old flasher, the kid who liked to throw dirt into the air and inhale it, the child who desperately begged me to "adopt and hide" her, and the boy who "didn't notice" an angry-looking black and blue swelling that almost closed one eye.
In fact, my experiences varied so much, that it seemed "unusual" to NOT have an "unusual occurrence". All of them had been reported.
I'll bet he could Parkour like this:
I particularly remembered the "roof climber".
Easily leaping upon a porch handrail, this athletic sixth-grader grasped a drainpipe and the edge of the roof as he quickly hauled himself up to the top of the building. For him it was merely an easy way to retrieve an errant soccer ball.
Even though the feat was accomplished with aplomb, (this kid could have been a James Bond stuntman with no additional training). I had to report the incident to protect others from trying to imitate the action. His peers were properly awed and impressed.
In a private conference with the "superkid" I told him that though I personally admired his athleticism, his action was setting a bad example for others who might hurt themselves by trying to do something similar.
He accepted my tacit admiration and my official responsibility to report his actions to the office.
At the end of the day I reluctantly told the school secretary that I needed to report an "unusual incident". Substitute teachers, me included, are not inclined to draw attention to happenings that indicate we are not in total control of everything.
We hope to keep the kids from climbing the walls, but when one actually summits the roof . . . well, it seems a little embarrassing.
The secretary immediately asked me if it was "J _____" (mentioning the culprit's name). She had guessed right ! Imagine!
And she seemed not the least bit surprised. This was somewhat reassuring, as it proved that the incident may NOT have been all that unusual.
She waved adieu with a " that's the way it is" kind of half-smile. Sub teachers always need to make a note of such things for the returning teacher, or inform an administrator.
Such observations can be important even though we cannot judge or analyze any particular behavior. It might be part of a bigger picture, and we might be faulted for not reporting something which could be a symptom of potential problems.
I once heard a substitute complaining that if she reported problems it would reflect on her ability to control the class. Sometimes there is an element of truth in this, and we have to be willing to look at things we might have done differently.
However, we shouldn't get too defensive. The district sub caller did not request you for Divine Intervention, you were called as a sub teacher.
If, at times you are unable to work a miracle, we can call it a "learning experience" day. Sometimes your best efforts fit into to that category of those best laid plans of mice and men.
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