Friday, October 23, 2009

Executive Decisions

The intention of this blog entry is to release the growing anxiety and tension that's been building up for a month. I have not written a single word in two weeks. Hopefully, this will clear some of the mind clutter and writing ruts.

Have you ever had to make a really hard decision, knew what course to take but because of the uncomfortable consequence of the decision, you just want to take the easy way out? It's kind of like editing a novel. You have to make the difficult decision of removing a paragraph here or chapter there. Perhaps you may even need to eliminate a character altogether. Well, this week I have had to make a really difficult decision in how to best serve the needs of my students.

I have several students who need immediate intervention. My students have severe emotional disabilities, travel with paraprofessionals (teaching assistants) and will probably be on medication for the rest of their lives in order to manage the hormonal imbalances in their bodies. One student, who resided in the Bronx last year and now lives in Manhattan, is particularly disrespectful, cuts school, is gang affiliated, and regularly disobeys his parents. I have made phone calls, had a conference with the parent, delineated the various consequences of his behavior, made checklists, late sign in sheets and threatened to put him on a school bus!

Well, the only thing I didn't try was changing the teaching assistant who travels with this student. I have avoided taking this action for the simple fact that it would cause a very uncomfortable rift amongst the team members (the coordinator *me*, the three paraprofessionals, nine students). Well, today I let one of the paraprofessionals know that I would be placing her with this difficult student. She replied that this is unfair because we need to get rid of the paraprofessional who is ineffective with the students. I explained that the NYC Department of Education will not send me a new teaching assistant and I have to make do with what I've got. From that moment, she has refused to talk to me so we can resolve the conflict. I thought that we could both separate friendship and our duties as educators. It was something that I had to do because it was best for the students. I am baffled that she did take it personal. She even walked away and ignored me as I tried to reason with her.

Well, I can only hope that Monday will bring a fresh start and better disposition. As I haven't finished my book yet, I wonder if it's easier to edit a book than it is to manage people?

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