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Monday, September 22, 2008

To Do List......

1) Start back up teaching Martial arts at the Middle School...... check.
2) Tell a bunch of kids in the hall at Madison to tone down their language....check
3) Have a big kid threaten to whoop my ass......check.
4) Meet 20 new Wushu students.....check
5) Find out that one of the Wushu students is "different".....check
6) Find out at the end of class, the "different" student has no idea what afterschool bus to take or what to do.....check.
7) Stick around after the other kids have gone, try to find his name on the afterschool bus list, don't find it, then take him to the afterschool activities office for assistance. Check. Walk his him to his bus, request that the bus driver to make sure that his guardian is there. Check.
8) Fill out background check papers. Get fingerprinted. check.

Great day today....except for the nasty headache I had all day (finally got rid of it) was a migraine i think.....I was nauseous, wished that my sunglasses were 5 times darker, everything I smelled made me gag. I should've seen it coming, because I felt the "aura" thing that comes before a migraine. A few Ibuprofens, and I was functional, at least. Started back up at the middle school again today. I took the 2007 year off, to focus on Wushu classes at my studio. But during this summer, I realized I really missed working with middle school kids. I assumed that the school would just get another martial arts instructor, but they did not. I was surpised that they had not. Good for me though....because I'm back! I've been at Madison for close to 10 years....and I figure "why stop now?".

It felt good to be back in the familiar halls.One thing I forgot about, was the audacity of some kids these days. (oh, my gosh, I'm sound like how my own parents did, back in the 1980's!) I walk in, after one year away, and the the whole "take charge" persona kicked in. Over the years, I've been known to break up fights, drag kids to the main office, and stand up to the so-called "toughs" that have meandered the halls. No different today. As I walked in, there were 5 or 6 kids running around in the hall, "play-fighting".....they're not supposed to be out yet...there was still 15 minutes till the final bell rang. They were cussing and shouting....and as I neared them, I bellowed "Hey! watch your language in the halls! And there's no running in the halls! Tone it down before a security guard catches you!"

"Who the fuck are you?" said a big kid. This kid was way taller than me and outweighed me by at least 50 pounds. *holy crap* I thought ....*what do kids eat these days that makes 'em like that?*. I was amused. Big toughie standing up to....well, he had no idea if I was a teacher or sub or what. At any rate, he threw up his hands in that "want some of this" gesture.

I said "Ya better put those hands down....'cuz if you're gonna step to me, you might not like it".

"Man.....bitch! I'll whup yer ass! Bring it bitch!" His friends laughed. *wow, welcome back to Madison, Rusty* I thought to myself. "what, are you some martial arts Mass-taaaah?" he sneeredas he took a corny martial arts stance.

"That depends.....would be big surprise, if for some reason, that I WAS a martial arts "Masss-taaaah", I joked back. I walked right through them, wondering which one of them was going to do something stupid like try to backhand me. No one did.

Later, as I was teaching my class in the commons (lunchroom/stage), those kids found out exactly who i was. Unfortunately, they walked right into the class making fun of the other kids working out....making "Hiyaa" noises and doing the "Karate kid crane stance". I walked right up to the big kid, gave him the evilest eye I could muster.....and hissed in a low voice: " this location."

Grrr. I want to meet these kid's parents.

Anyhow....20 new kids today....and there were 6 missing. Looking forward to seeing who shows up next week. The class had a blast. One of the new students, I observed, is a (high functioning) autistic or Asberger's sydrome boy. I saw a few signs that let on that he may have Asberger's syndrome or might be autistic. He followed right along in class just fine...did everything correctly....but his lack of non-understanding of social cues was the giveaway. He made random "chirping" sounds, and did not make frequent eye contact. A few of the other kids made some unkind comments about him right there in his presence, and I was appalled.....

During the break, I spoke to several groups of the kids, explaining that "Johnny" was a little different, but that we need to understand why he's different. "He's not 'retarded' ", I told them. "He just doesn't understand social cues....that means he won't quite get a lot of things that you or I understand easily, like certain types of joking around, or certain looks or expressions....he doesn't understand that sticking his tongue out at you might hurt your feelings, or that calling you a name would make you mad. I'd like for you to help me make him feel safe in our class, because I'm pretty sure he gets teased alot".

Ooooh. That got some of them to feel a little guilty about teasing him earlier. Bingo. Exactly what I was hoping for. And you know what? Small groups of the kids ate their snack with him, talking and laughing.

Unfortunately, as everyone left after class, I realized that "Johnny" had no idea how he was getting home. "Johnny....hey buddy", i said, as I persuaded him to look me in the eye. "You are taking the activities bus, right?" ....

"I don't know. Excuse me, can I have your attention, please? I don't know. I think my Mom is getting me. Attention! I think a bus."

*uh oh* I thought. First day of afterschool activities....of course he doesn't know which bus to take. "Let's look at the bus list!...C'mon, Johnny!" I started to jog across the commons, to the bus list. He laughed in his chirpy laugh and ran behind me. I tried to look up his name on all the busses....found nothing. "Looks like we gotta....RUN to the activities office!" and we ran across the commons again.

I waited 30 minutes for the coordinators to get busses for a dozen other kids, and while doing so, I had to make sure that Johnny didn't pull out the peripherals from the coordinator's computers. "I like computers! Attention! Hello! I like computers!". He was kneeling at the front of their desks, picking at the network cables. After a wait...they finally got Johnny his bus. I finally got to fill out my background check and get fingerprinted. Well, actually, I fingerprinted myself. ha ha! They saw how I carefully "rolled" my thumb onto the print field....and someone asked "Um, so how is it you know how to fingerprint so well?" Ha ha! I laughed. "No...I was never in jail. I sign martial arts certificates this way, along with my signature....official document, you know....".

What struck me, was Johnny's frequent use of the words "Attention" or "Can I have your attention? Hello!!!" Makes me wonder how many times these phrases are used toward him....apparently enough times to where he mimics the phrase. Hmm. It will be interesting to find other ways to gain his attention....even if its just eye contact. When he did make eye contact with me a few times, I knew he "saw" me......he's there. I just have to make sure I can show the other classmates how to "look" for him.

I was happy at the outcome in Johnny's case. I think this year is going to be a great one at the middle school.

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