Thursday, November 27, 2014

Special Needs in China

This morning I was working when all of sudden I heard a student come out of a classroom and yell down the hallway. The sound I heard made me jump out of my chair and out the door to see what was the matter and if help was needed. Right then and there, I saw a student being firmly held by a teacher and taken to the elementary principal's office next door. I leaned back in and asked another foreign teacher, "Is that *Jay?" "Yep..." was his response.

I had heard about Jay last week from a couple teachers, that foreign teacher (from Canada) and his translator (from China). They spoke of how Jay steals things from others, speaks loudly, hits his peers, and is not be able to control himself. When special needs or students who aren't advocated for come up as the office topic, I tend to lend a closer ear. 

After I saw the teacher take Jay to the office, she then took him to the teacher's work room. I assume she tried the same thing I saw our principal do later: look Jay in the eyes, talk sternly, and make him sit still. That didn't last long until I saw the teacher walk him back up the hall and downstairs for a bit. Jay was then returned to his classroom where he was soon taken out again. This happened a handful of times throughout the day, and I was informed by our principal in the afternoon that is the worst yet. Things just started to get out of hand this week. The teachers, TAs, and admin don't know what to do.

This is what seems about all the staff can do since we don't have a team, much less a counselor nor any teachers trained except for me. It isn't encouraging either to hear the principal talk of how she doesn't trust the doctors who said the child has nothing wrong with him. Well, I'm not sure how much a week's worth of records can actually prove. 

Without knowing all of how the Chinese education system attends to students with possible special needs, I decided to handle the fragile situation with patience. I instructed the foreign teacher and principal that we need to "record, record, record." That's what we were told time and time again in our university special education classes. These data can show us over time the frequency and intensity of Jay's behaviors. While and after gathering this information, we can check the ABCs: antecedents, behaviors, and consequences of each situation. What prompts the flare-ups? What specific action took place? What came after that?

When I passed this piece of advice on, I felt a little down because of how I now need to wait to train the 1st grade teachers, their TAs, and admin. This is indeed a sensitive issue with the school, but one I can not go on trying to do myself without help. If you have suggestions or ideas, please share, RT, or do whatever it takes. I need help, support, and wisdom. 

It's all for Jay. THAT kid.

(* denotes the student's name changed to protect his identity)


  1. I'd love to help create a success plan if that is something everyone is interested in. I worked for 7 yrs in an alternative school where I taught students with severe emotional and behavior needs. It was a special ed self contained setting but I've also been at the reg ed setting for 7 yrs now too. I'm very good at helping kids who struggle with behaviors. If you're interested, let me know how I can help. I can talk things out with you guys, help create a plan, just send you templates or resources...whatever. I love that you're advocating for this child! Keep caring!

    1. Rose, thank you for your support! I'd love to talk things through on this, especially since the student is Chinese and special ed is MUCH different here. I'll DM you on Twitter.