He Can’t Learn in This Environment.
To Dylan’s Teachers and the Headmaster:
I hope that the following will help you to understand Dylan’s behavior which, as we all know, has not been ideal.
Until this year, Dylan has always been well-mannered and, while distracted, was never a distraction. He was quiet in classes, and quite well-behaved. He had organizational issues but was never late, loud or annoying in school.
Dylan processes things audially – almost exclusively – and very, very slowly. So when kids are talking during class, he can’t focus on anything. He needs things to be quiet in order to focus at all – and since the classroom is full of tiny distractions, he has given up trying to focus and decided to talk instead. This doesn’t help anyone in the classroom, and it hurts Dylan more than anything – but he doesn’t have any idea what else he should do, since he simply can’t focus with noise.
In other words, he can’t learn in this wonderfully warm, receptive and free environment. And while I know he performs exceptionally well when given more responsibility – like a side job in the classroom or any kind of monitoring task – it does seem counterintuitive to give more responsibility to a student who doesn’t seem capable of self-control. But I can tell you that giving him something extra to do actually *increases* good behavior.
I think we’ve all figured out that he is trying to overcompensate by being “silly” – which, we also know, is not working. Since the new trimester started, he says that his behavior is improved – and I even got an email from his Spanish teacher saying how well-behaved he was last week! He is really trying to stay quiet in class – so please, if you notice any good behavior, now is the time to reward him! He wants to do the right thing – he just doesn’t know how.
Meanwhile, I am drilling into his head that he must stay after class and ask his teachers what was due, and what is due tomorrow. He knows that questioning his teachers daily is expected, but it has not yet become habit. Please, if you think of it, grab him after class and remind him.
Also, I insisted that Dylan talk to his teachers after class, and he was reported as being late to his next class because of it. While I know he was seen talking to other kids (and I have spoken to him about this!) – his intention was to get done those things that I’d asked him to do. I am not advocating that he hang out in the hall, talk to friends, etcetera.
But please, if he is talking to you after class, which I’ve asked him to do, send a note to his next teacher if he’s going to be late. Dylan has assured me that he will be doing only the right things with his time.
Finally, Dylan is not on stimulants anymore, and we do occasionally provide caffeinated drinks as a substitute. Most of the time, it’s iced tea – but on days when he needs an extra boost, I have given him Mountain Dew, which I bought specifically for school. Please know that any disgusting, sugary beverages I send to school are only substitutes for medication, and not something in which we indulge at home. My apologies for any confusion!
I appreciate ALL that you’ve been doing for Dylan and I hope that, while this email won’t change Dylan’s behavior, maybe it will give you some insights, and together we can find a way to help him succeed.