Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day #123

Poliakova is one of my favorite kids at the March. She is a holy terror at a young age: manipulative, deceitful, eye-rolling, and accomplished at sass-back to an unparalleled degree. I suspect however that she is gifted at more than simply arranging beat-downs of fellow students via her gang connections, and so for much of this year I've bent over backwards to give Poliakova extra attention and work. This strategy bore fruit for a while, but in the middle of the third quarter she slipped off the deep end and her behavior became more and more outlandish, violent, and bizarre. Her grade in my class dropped from an 88% to a 63%, and she was moved from the second-highest class in sixth grade to the lowest achieving class (which I'm also privileged to teach). This is the class where the hopeless behavior head cases end up, where the flashers and pyros and vandals are, where the special ed kids who are emotionally disturbed but academically capable of mainstreaming end up. The administrators had hoped to scare Poliakova straight by putting her there. Instead she started acting up worse.

Much of her deterioration stems from a reunion with her mom, who just was released after a couple years spent up the river for dealing. Poliakova was living with an aunt who had some control over things; Mom seems less capable of reining in her baby girl, or less interested. Other sixth graders tell me Mom smokes weed right in front of Poliakova, and that a steady stream of man friends rolls in and out the house.

So Poliakova got suspended for running halls when she was supposed to be in the cafeteria, said suspension scheduled to start tomorrow. As she was leaving my second period class I said "Go straight to Art. You know if you run halls with your crew and you show up late he is not going to let you in and you will get jacked up. DO NOT come back here and ask me for a pass. Understand?"

Poliakova rolled her eyes, sucked her teeth, and stamped her foot before getting all up in my grill. "I know how to walk from your class to Mr. T's room, Gawd!"

20 minutes later she starts banging on my window during planning time. "Can you write me a pass, please?" she asks, using her sickeningly false and unctious I need something from you voice. Because she's been continuously disappointing to me for a month despite my best efforts, I told her something I really hate to tell a child: "I am done with you. I'm not calling your house when you misbehave any more because I no longer care what you do. I'm not helping you out when you're in a jam. I'm not going to intervene when I know you're about to get beat down by 8th graders anymore. I'm not extending myself. There are other kids who give a damn here. They get my time. You? You need to make a choice about what path you're going down. You could still turn things around and end up in a premier City-wide high school. Or you can fail sixth grade and end up just another bum with an attitude." And I shut my door in her face.

An hour later Poliakova got jacked up by an administrator for running the halls. Then she tried to take a swing at the administrator, and Ms. G don't play. Ms. G was attacked by a 7th grader last year and she beat the girl senseless. Then that student's mom came into school and took a poke at Ms. G and Ms. G knocked the mom around for good measure. So Poliakova was getting the worse end of things right outside my door last period. A terrible sight.

Did I feel like an ass? Yes. But I'm at my wit's end. I need to focus on the handful of kids I can still help.


earth dragon said...

years ago, I was "in therapy" because of my association with those who were quite self-destructive. At one point, toward the end of my sessions with this therapist, she said, "while others around you engage in self-destructive behavior, and launch with recklessness into a horrific downward spiral, you need to decide how far you will spiral down with them, before you save yourself."

You showed this girl -- over a period of months -- that with positive action, she can get substantial rewards; and yet, she plunges forth into her own downward spiral. And still, you told her what she needed to do, and she knows you would help her, if only she gave a damn about herself.

You're not an ass; I'm officially recommending you for sainthood.

"St. Yerfdog, the mighty."

I like the sound of that.

Anonymous said...

It's the end of the year and frustrations are increasing. I hate this time of the year, this gray area where it is too close to not feel it but far enough away to not want to celebrate it.

Hang in there - not much longer to go!