More About Seth

September 18, 2008 at 4:09 pm 1 comment

“Seth” is one of those kids that I couldn’t help but emotionally adopt as soon as he walked into my classroom. New kid to the district. Small, unhappy. Wannabe punk attitude. Frustrated at being a little behind the pack. Doe eyes. You know the kid.

His behavior began degrading rapidly in the second week of school. He resisted doing work, acted like he couldn’t do things that I knew he could. Didn’t listen. Listened and played dumb. Ran manic laps around the classroom before the bell rang. Irritated other students. Broke pens at his desk. Smashed things into his forehead. Shoved his desk around. And when I called him on stuff, he shut down: no eye contact; tight, violent little shrugs punctuating every question I asked.

I went to the other teachers on my team, wondering if Seth was like this in their classes. One of them said he gave no trouble; another wondered which student I was talking about. I began to wonder if it was me and not him.

Things got worse, and the conversation moved up a level to involve the counselors. The verdict was that he was seeking attention. I disagreed. This wasn’t just attention-seeking, and it wasn’t just anger. There was a lot of pain in this kid, and it was worrying me – a lot. So I pushed the issue.

Seth freaked out one day. He got in trouble in class, got a lunch detention, and came into my class acting like a kid who had taken some serious drugs. The only adjective I could come up with was “tweaked” – he was twitchy, blurty, noisy. He acted like his limbs had revolted against his body and one another, like his mouth had taken leave of his brain. At the beginning of the period he was randomly saying things and laughing; by the end of class, he was no longer speaking English. He was jibbering, giggling, throwing himself on the floor, and scaring me – and the students – quite a bit. I spent almost the entire class at his side,  finally telling him that I thought he was sick and needed to see the nurse. The bell rang half a minute before I got scared enough to call someone down to fetch him, so I hustled everyone out of my room and walked him down to the office. He acted (and I’m being descriptive here, not insulting) like one of our severe-needs special education students all the way down the hall until we walked in the office door, at which point it shut off like he’d hit a switch. The nurse took his temperature, listened to my description, and told him that he might need to talk to the administrators about his behavior.

And then his mom called the counselor on an unrelated question, and we began to get some answers.

Turns out we’re looking at severe depression, probable bipolar disorder, and issues with suicidal tendencies. His parents took him off his medications a little over a year ago and thought that things were going well. At home, he’s apparently really on the ball – really healthy. His grades haven’t plummeted yet, not even in my class. But the behaviors he’s exhibiting in my class are familiar to his parents. Something is wrong again.

After we spoke to the parents, Seth seemed to be better for a few days. I still struggle with him. The kids have stopped reacting to him like the annoying jerk they thought he was, and have started ignoring him like the special ed kid they’ve now decided he is. His grade is slipping because of missed or incomplete work. He’s less of a distraction. I’ve found a student that he likes to partner up with; it helps him get his work done, which is good, but the kid is severely (and un-medicatedly) ADHD, and Seth is picking up his mannerisms, which sucks. Still, when Seth is acting ADHD he is easier to work with than when he is acting suicidal, and the other student – I’ll call him Jerry – is smart and a good kid. Maybe they can help each other, somehow.


Entry filed under: STUDENTS.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Folded Up « Full of Bees!  |  September 7, 2009 at 11:44 am

    […] if you remember him, is one of the ones whose name became familiar in our household within the first three days of […]


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The Bee’s Knees

This is the teaching journal of a student first-year second-year THIRD-YEAR (!!!) English teacher. I am writing this blog as a reflection for myself, a way to keep friends and family updated, and a sharing-ground between other educators online. I love comments!

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