Okay, that title is a little misleading for this post. It’s actually a quote from a great episode of King of the Hill. But here’s what happened:
I took Carrie to school and her teacher met me at the door like she does every day to talk about how Carrie’s doing. Why yes, as a matter of fact, we do live in Nirvanaland, why do you ask?
Anyway, Carrie’s teacher said, “Progress reports go home on Thursday and I just want to prepare you. Carrie has a C in Reading.” I was shocked. Reading is far and away Carrie’s best subject. We spoke for a few minutes about what could be affecting her grades and the teacher detailed the test-taking procedure that Carrie goes through. Carrie, her aide, and one other student named Chase sit together in the corner to take the test, so Carrie doesn’t feel isolated.
I promised to talk with Carrie and explain that she will have to buckle down and that she can’t fly through her tests without reading the problems, etc. I assured her this would be resolved quickly.
I went back to my car and realized Carrie’s lunchbox was on the front seat, so I raced it back inside. Carrie’s teacher had stepped out, so another teacher was in the classroom since they are not allowed to leave Carrie unsupervised, even for a potty break (see note above about Nirvanaland). This teacher was engaged in a horribly awkward conversation with another student, one of those talks where you just nod your head a lot and say things like, “Really? Wow. How about that?” I could hear the child talking and caught a few words like “mental hospital” and “suicide.”
Now, I had met this child before. Every morning, in fact. She parks herself in front of Carrie’s desk and starts rambling about highly inappropriate topics. One day, she even stood before us with her pants completely unbuttoned and unzipped, and when I quietly pointed it out to her, she replied, “I like them better this way.”
As I left the room and the other classroom teacher made her escape, we briefly commented on how sad it is that a child this age even knows about suicide and institutions, let alone that a family member discusses these things with her.
“You know,” I said patiently, “my kids and I pray every morning on the way to school about the upcoming school day. We need to add her to our prayer list. Who is that?”
“THAT’S Chase?” I shrieked. “Well, mystery solved!” I returned to Carrie’s classroom (for the third time that morning) and asked to speak to her teacher. I explained that this student exhibits wild behaviors and that Carrie most likely was rushing through her tests so she can get away from her. I asked that they not work together again, and the teacher agreed. That afternoon, Carrie made a 100% on her reading test.
The teacher fell victim to a very easy trap. Chase is a difficult child, and it’s very tempting to put her with another adult in order to keep her disruptive behavior in check and to help her overcome her own learning issues in order to succeed. The teacher was in no way a bad person, she simply tried to find a solution to several problems at once and unluckily for Carrie, she went about it the wrong way.
Unfortunately, it’s not Carrie’s job to help other students overcome their issues. She has quite enough of her own thank you very much!