Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Because no one will be a good listener

Last night, Drew was doing an assignment for school (late, which was my fault), in which he had to dictate to me events of the past weekend. We include photos from my printer to help him remember, and this weekend's events naturally included TKD graduation. There was a photo of Drew with Ma'am, and when I told him to tell me who Ma'am was, so that way other people would know, he said, verbatim, "She's a taekwondo teacher because no one will be a good listener." I think, from what I can interpret knowing his apraxic, 5 year old ways, is that she teaches the kids to respect authority and how to be a good listener. I thought it was funny the way it came out, but it's interesting that's her job description.

Well, if that's the case, I am certainly doing my best to teach the little Cubs in my class to be respectful and listen. But there's one kid-- ugh-- he makes my son look like an angel. Ma'am said it first, but the more I've gotten to know this kid, for once I agree that she's right about my son being an angel in comparison. J really tried to push it today, and I stood my ground, and I think I need to stand my ground more and intend to do so. It all started with the mats. We have foam placemats that the kids stand on to mark their spot. The instructor always has black. ;-) Since mine is such a small class, I allow each of them to choose what color they want. Because J is a trouble maker when he's with the little girl of the class, C, I wanted to separate them, and at the same time, keep him away from the side where the mirrors are, because he likes to spend his time looking at himself rather than pay attention. He grabbed his color out of the drawer before I could take it, and he placed it on that spot nearest the mirrors next to C. I asked him nicely but firmly down at his level to please get off his mat, as he needed to be on the other side. He looked me squarely in the eye, and said, "I don't want to move. I want to be next to C." I asked him the same thing again, slightly more sternly. He was practically in my face, and stood his ground. I reminded him of who was the teacher and who was the kid, and that he needed to listen to ME. He balked and complained, but I finally got him to move. I mean, come on! He's 4 years old! I'm twice his size! And he thinks he's going to defy ME? I don't think so! He continued to want to do things HIS way, but I had to continually remind him to pay attention, and this was MY class. I wasn't mean to him, and when I needed him to get back in line, he'd get back in line. He talks too much too, so I have to nip that in the bud. I don't mind the kids talking to me and participating-- I encourage that. Little R in class needs to do that more. But J needs to shut up. J and his older brothers have a reputation in the school that none of the instructors want to teach these kids. If it's one kid that's a problem, and the other siblings are fine, it's usually the kid that's the problem. When it's ALL the kids in the family, then you know it's a parenting problem. Mr. A told me today that J also attends his Cubs class on Saturdays, and he's convinced that J should actually be in the Special Abilities class so that his mother can keep him in line, because he thinks he's ADHD. That certainly might be true, but I think it's a matter of him being hyperactive AND undisciplined. Some of my son's sensory integration dysfunction symptoms are similar to ADHD, and I know that if my husband and I didn't start cracking down on Drew, he would've ended up the same way. So, I've made a decision. I'm not backing down against a little kid. He disrupts the class. The other kids are good and they enjoy the class. I hate taking away from them. I could ignore him, but then the other kids would think that his behavior is acceptable, which it's not. They start to mimic him until I get after him. They whip into shape quickly if I say something, but him...not usually. The other new kids are fine. S has a major stutter/stammer. I really try to be patient with him. After all, I'm the mother of a child with a major speech impairment. However, OH! Sometimes I just want to say, GET ON WITH IT! but he's wanting to participate and say something, so I don't want to discourage it. But sometimes it's hard to understand him. I talked to his mom after class, and she's hoping that he'll grow out of it, as he seems to do it especially when he's excited, etc. I'm thinking, nuh-uh, but I can't say that to her. So, I think I will try to work with him myself, and see if by MY listening more carefully, I can repeat what he's said already, so he doesn't repeat himself, and he can get his thought out more quickly. C is the princess of the class. She has an older brother who's been doing TKD at our school for a while, so she gets with the program very easily. She's a sweetie when she's not influenced by J. And R just turned 3, and is very shy and bashful, but he seems to be coming out of his shell little by little. His Chinese-American grandparents bring him to class each week, taking photos and such. It's very cute. They told me he likes class a lot, which I'm glad to hear. I'll bet that if he sticks with it, he might just end up being really good at this, as he's pretty attentive for a 3 year old. And since he's quiet, I want him to speak up more, so I'll have all the children talk and have a voice, not just noisy J. For example, today we played a game called Running Through the Jungle. I have the kids jogging for a while (hopefully to tire them out a little) and each person will take a turn saying that they see a jungle animal (or any animal, I don't care), and we do a move to combat or avoid that animal. Like, if we see a snake, we jump. If we see a tiger, we do front kicks, etc. So, each of the children take a turn. S was getting a little bit caught up and elaborate with whatever he was trying to tell me, and I finally said, OK! We'll give him two punches!. I did let each child have two turns, and then J is trying to take over. NOPE! NOT GONNA HAPPEN, J! I truly think that J is testing me, as I can see it in his eyes. He can manipulate his parents, so he thinks he can manipulate me, and it's not going to work. I will make sure that I get that kid into line, probably using things that worked with my son, but no one has ever used with this kid. It's not torturous things, but things like asking him to leave class if he can't behave, rewarding him with a paper star if I catch him doing good things, giving him incentives to behave nicely, etc. I think that can work.

So, this just goes to show that teaching a Cubs class might be easy curriculum-wise, but not so easy to teach necessarily. Definitely a learning experience for me too.

SW is going to Fall Nationals in the morning, so she called today in a good mood, and was rattling off all this stuff to do and follow up on. No problem. She told me that she is starting to learn that she can trust Ryan and I with more stuff, and that she's getting better about learning to delegate things. She's feeling more confident that things are on the upswing now, as Ryan's been getting a lot of upgrades lately, and that benefits all of us, so we might be looking at a bonus this month, which would be great. I'm contributing to this too, as we are all in touch with what's going on. So, while I might not make the actual sale, I might have preframed a client or given them info, or was the person that they verified information with, so everything can be set up. So we all play a part, no matter who actually makes the sale, and I think that works out great. We need to convert some people who are on trial programs too, so I can help with that. We are slowly getting organized and reorganized. SW admitted that when she did things on her own, she had a lot of it in her head, but now she can't do that, but with better organization, we can do it. Ryan wants to update the webpage. I could probably do that too, but he knows that particular system that SW is using better, so that's fine. I'm working on straightening out the database so it's in better synch with the ATA HQ database as far as testings, membership expirations, etc. Like, according to the ATA, my membership expired, but I know I paid for it months ago. SW has the records, but it needs to be updated, etc. Stuff like that. So, we are slowly getting things super organized so anyone can go in and check stuff and be totally in synch with the other members of the team. Progress, at least.

Tomorrow will probably be two classes. One in the morning, and one at night. Should be interesting. I still have to see if I'll be able to take class on Thursday due to stuff going on here at home.

Busy, busy!

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