Honk Honk

Honk Honk

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bubba - my first favorite student

First of all, yes, teachers have favorites.  I know we tell our students we don't and that we treat everyone equally (which we really try to do that), but we all have our favorites.  One of my all time favorites was before I was even a teacher.  I was a 1-on-1 instructional aide for a student with Autism.  It was my first experience working with kids with special needs, and I fell in love with this kid!  He was so much fun to work with and brought joy to my workday!  Whenever I think of Bubba (name changed for confidentiality of course), I smile and I always revert back to one of my favorite moments with him.  Trust me, if you continue to read, you will be entertained!

So let's just say Bubba was by no means a small child.  He was in the 3rd grade, but quite a bit bigger then the third graders in his general ed class.  When he got frustrated he had to find an outlet to express his frustration, and since his speech was limited, he tended to get a tad bit theatrical.  But in reality, don't we all...we get frustrated, we don't quite know how to show it, so out comes the drama!  In one section of the room was the reading area and in it was a nice cushy couch.  When Bubba would get frustrated from his work he'd get that look in his eyes, and before I could really do anything to reason with him, he would bolt up out of his chair, run as fast as he could with his chubby little waddle, and run towards the couch.  Now the first time I witnessed this, I was baffled, I had no idea where he was going, and the drama that unfolded was quite the hilarious scene!  As he approached the couch his chubby run would turn more into a quick foot shuffle and then he would dramatically throw himself on the couch throwing his hands in the air and screaming all the while!  He would then attempt to hide his face in the couch and eventually, when he was over it, he would sit himself and I could convince him to come back and work.  This dramatic couch throwing soon became a habit and the teacher and I had to do some serious thinking about how we could avoid this from happening 5-10 times a day.

The third graders in the class were all very patient and sweet with him and their response was often just "oh Bubba".  After moving the couch around and discovering that wouldn't deter him because he could just throw himself over the back in the same dramatic fashion, the teacher and I finally came up with a grand plan!  We realized we had to make the couch completely unappealing. We could easily understand why he would rather lay on the couch instead of sitting in a chair working, I wanted to do the same.  But the couch was too fun, and we had to make it unappealing.  So Mrs. K and I decided that we would take chairs and desks and turn them upside down, covering the entire couch so that the legs were sticking up.  Of course in our mind this was a genius idea because there is no way he would attempt the couch when it would be impossible for him to get on it with the obstructions.  We had it set up in the morning before school and explained to the 3rd graders what we were doing and why, and then we just sat back and waited to see what would happen.

I was working with Bubba when I saw that all too familiar look in his eye...he was going to make his run for it!  Without fail he followed my thought process and bolted out of the seat and headed towards the couch.  As he reached the point that he would normally do his quick foot shuffle, he suddenly came to a screeching halt.  SUCCESS!!!  He looked at me with a look of complete flabbergast and Mrs. K and I shot a quick smile to each other because our genius idea had worked.  Or so we thought...we had only a small moment of an ego boost at our cleverness, and that's when we could see the wheels churning in Bubba's head.  He was determined and no desks or chairs despite their upside down nature were going to stop him.  He then proceeded to carefully attempt to squeeze himself between the back of the couch and the desks, intertwining his arms and weaving his legs through the legs of the chairs and desks.  Now remember that he was no small child...if I remember correctly he weighed about 150 pounds...as a 3rd grader.  As he's working his way down into the couch he's just lying there, back arched, arms tangled, repeatedly saying in his adorable sing-songy voice "ouch....ouch....ouch".  Mrs. K. and I started laughing SO hard that we had to quickly run into the room next door and have that teacher come watch the kids.  We didn't want to encourage him by us laughing, but we just couldn't control ourselves!  You know how it is, one of you starts to gain control and then the other losses it again, sending you both into a downward spiral of giggle fits.  The teacher next door goes running in there and is explaining to the kids that we are being bad examples because we can't stop laughing.  She quickly looked over at Bubba, found it to be just as funny as we did, and came back saying, "I can't help but laugh either, he's just so darn cute stuck down there!" We eventually got our giggles under control and were able to go back in and slowly peel Bubba out of the couch.  We still thought we might be on to something, so we decided to try the desk trick one more time to see if he would avoid it, and success!  Real success this time!  Unfortunately while we conquered the couch, he then resorted to throwing himself on the ground.  And even worse, there was only a couch in our room, there's a ground everywhere!  So while we thought we were being pretty clever, we probably just made it worse.

While no words will ever be able to describe the image that I can still play in my head, I hope it was at least somewhat entertaining for you.

No comments: