We're trying to bring a new program into our school, and we had a long meeting afterschool today to work out some of the details. Because we knew it was going to be a long one, the principal sprung for a round of Swiss Chalet, delivered right to our staff room, which was good of him.
As the meal wound down, four of us were left around the table: me, two other teachers and a vice principal, and the topic of conversation was exactly one (1) student. We'll call her/him Pat; we'll keep things nice and anonymous and gender-neutral.
Pat got into a fight today in my class with another kid who'd had enough of Pat's carrying-on and insults about their mother and generalized running-on at the mouth. The thing is, that kid (the non-Pat one) is one of the nicest, easy-going kids in the class... but Pat enjoys the attention that acting like an idiot brings with it, and this is the second fight Pat's been in so far in my class.
Everyone in the room, me included, wants to kill Pat. The constant yapping, the complete lack of any semblance of attention span (I'll explain below), and apparently some exceedingly vulgar and disgusting comments outside my earshot — so much so that one of my other students refuses to be in the same room as Pat and will sit out in the hall — have poisoned the once-great classroom environment we had for the first few weeks of school.
About that attention span... I wish I was exaggerating here, but Pat has what I can only describe as the attention span of a hyena on massive quantities of amphetamines. The other day, I was describing something to the class about the lab they were about to do: "You'll want to take this chemical and mix it with that chemical, in order to get your result."
Pat, three seconds later, at an exceedingly loud volume, when I'm in the middle of another sentence: "Hey, what chemicals do we mix together?"
It's been this way for about the last five straight weeks, every day. When Pat comes into class and sits down, s/he will often shout from across the room, "Sir, are we doing a lab today?" Two seconds later, if I haven't answered because I'm busy talking with another student, Pat will yell again, "Sir, are we doing a lab today?" Because I still haven't answered, Pat will yell again, "Sir, are we doing a lab today?" Then, if I answer to the negative, Pat will shout back, "Sir, why aren't we doing a lab today?" Over. And over. And over.
The thing is, it's not just in my class in which Pat has completely lost control of her/himself. One of the other teachers involved in the conversation mentioned at the top of this post also teaches Pat, and she described an incident a few days ago in which Pat said, to her, a monologue so unbelievable that, when she called Pat's mom to tell her what Pat had said, was too embarassed to repeat what Pat had said in class. Now, I've known this teacher all my professional life, and she's one of the most forthright, no-nonsense colleagues I have; if she's too embarassed to say something to a kid's mom, it's gotta be awful. And it was.
So, there we were... the clock ticked ever onwards, the pitch-black sky reminding us that it was way after 3:15 — you know, the time every teacher leaves the building to go home carefree, skipping and tra-la-la-ing all the way to the bank to cash our fat paycheques — and by the end of it, the four of us had spent 45 minutes talking about exactly one kid, and what to do with him/her.
We still don't know, actually. Pat's gone tomorrow, suspended for fighting (I really hope the other participant doesn't get suspended, as it was very clearly Pat's fault). After that, I guess all I can do is pitch Pat down to the office as soon as s/he does any one little thing that irritates me or anyone else in the room.
I love/hate my job.