Back at School and Back in Jail

We’ve seen nothing but fog, rain, sleet and snow since our arrival.

Last night it started to snow, and this morning the world was white.

After a catch-up day of sorting paperwork and taking inventory of what we have and what we need to order food and supply wise, I called the local Inuit detention centre to let them know that I was back.

“Can you come in tonight?” they asked. I worked a short shift, as the detainee was transferred to the clinic.

The next morning I had my first day at school. I was worried that I wouldn’t have work when we returned to Kuujjuarapik, since we came back a couple of weeks after school had officially started. But the principal sounded happy to hear from me when I phoned.

“We’ve been waiting for you!” he said. “Can you come this afternoon?”

Apparently, the teacher I worked with last term did not want a shadow or aide in the classroom until I returned. It felt good to be requested.

Also, I’ve had a little promotion. I am now an Educational Technician. In the south, it would require a certification, or at least experience in the educational field. But my rusty B.A., the original somewhere in storage, actually makes a difference here. Will Skinnerian stimulus-response theory be useful?

I was assigned to two students that fall on the autism spectrum. They are brothers, in the same split class, but one in grade three and one in grade four. The teacher went over some instructional methods, using block counters for math, and coaching for help in English. The boy I worked with today is a delight, and is eager to please and learn.

I was also been assigned to shadow another boy with behavioural issues. I wasn’t prepared for Jack (of course I’ve changed his name). Where do I begin about Jack? I noticed other teachers’ sympathetic looks in the hallway as I was escorting him from class to class. The high point, or should I say low point, of my day was trying to keep Jack in gym class and prevent him from attacking and provoking other kids. I turned my back for a moment to console a hurt child and Jack had disappeared. I found him in the cloak room, on top of a shelf, too high for me to reach.

“Come down from there Jack,” I said. “It’s not safe.”

“Give me some money!” he said.

“I’m not giving you any money. You need to come down or I will have to call the behaviour technician or the principal.”

Jack, by then, had lifted one of the ceiling tiles and was trying to crawl up into the roof.

The principal managed to get Jack down. Jack disappeared again shortly after, only to be found in the gym locker room.

The teacher asked me to stay with him in library, and she would bring him work to do since he refused to participate in gym class. Several books were used as missiles and chairs were overturned.

“I’m staying here until you pick those books up,” I told him. “I am very, very patient. I am happy to sit here all night long.”

I picked up a book about dinosaurs and started thumbing through it, making remarks about the pterodactyls and brachiosaurus.

The next thing I knew, the books were picked up, the overturned chairs righted, and I had a boy sitting on a chair beside me commenting on the pictures and reading with me. We discussed Jurassic Park, and Walk of the Dinosaurs.

Was he testing me? Probably. Fortunately I have infinite patience. Was he “letting lose” because he felt he a shadow? Probably, as there is someone to contain him.

I will meet with the teachers on Monday and speak to the Special Education Teacher. I don’t need theory, just strategy and I need to know my parameters in dealing with him.

Maybe set up a reward system, 10 minutes of library reading, or such for good behaviour. I have so little experience in these matters, so I will wait to see what is suggested.

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One thought on “Back at School and Back in Jail

  1. I’m glad you bonded with him about dinosaurs. 😛

    No but in all seriousness, it sounds like he responded to the one-on-one attention that wasn’t negative (I assume that’s what he mainly gets in school if not at home). Keep us updated, it’s very interesting.

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