A Standoff With The Teacher

So Jonah has an established “leaving” routine at school.

The developmental preschool class is let out 5 minutes early so they don’t have to deal with the commotion of all the other kids.

The preschoolers typically come out of the class room in a line. Jonah always holding a teacher’s hand (he’s a runner). He’s been fine with this. It is the routine.

Then, they line up against the wall and wait for their parents to get them.

Most of the kids in class run to their parents when their name is called. Jonah pretty much sees me and runs to me first, whether his name is called or not….With a Big smile and Big Bear hugs.

If I’m not there when he gets to the wall, well… let’s just say I ALWAYS need to be there by the time he gets to the wall.

So today…

Jonah’s teacher wouldn’t just let him run to me today after school (like he has been doing EVERY DAY.)

Apparently they are supposed to hold a teacher’s hand now while walking to their parents.

Today, his teacher decided to “enforce” the hand holding rule completely out of the blue.

I did my best to “let the teacher do her job.”

It was not easy.

It’s almost like she didn’t realize what would be the result.

But I did…😒

Jonah would not hold her hand. He didn’t see why he should. I was literally standing 10 feet away. She would not let him come to me unless he held her hand. She blocked his path.

He started to get frustrated. He didn’t understand why he couldn’t come to me. She started yelling over his crying to grab her hand.

I was less than thrilled. Still trying to let her deal.

It became a battle of wills, like I knew it would.
I have fought those battles many a night.

Generally speaking, if it’s obstinate stubbornness, you can’t let the child win that battle.

If it’s a meltdown… well, that’s a whole different story. All you can do for meltdowns is to “ride it out.”

This was a bit of Jonah’s stubborn streak…at first.

His teacher blocked his path and tried to grab his hand.

He started crying and ripped his hand out of hers, trying to evade her and run to me.

She tried to walk him over to me. He ripped his hand out of hers and laid on the ground looking at me tearfully…obviously confused and frustrated… getting angry.

This went on for at least 5 minutes.

ALL the other kids in his class had left. His teacher would not let him leave.

Then Jonah got FURIOUS.

It turned into EXACTLY what I knew would happen.

Full blown meltdown.

His teacher had never seen him melt down before (according to HER at our last parent-teacher conference).

A switch flipped. I don’t think she recognized it.

I was uneasy about it at this point, but I wanted to see how his teacher responded.

Jonah screamed and furiously started hitting her. Jonah’s teacher started yelling “NO HIT!” (Which only made it worse…because, DUH.)

The rest of the school was released and kids started crowding around him, watching him screaming on the ground and the teacher standing over him STILL refusing to move.

Other para(educators) started “assisting” making sure he couldn’t come to me. They literally were boxing him in trying to grab his hand.

As he’s melting down.

In front of the school with dozens of kids staring.

At this point I had had enough.

I stepped in and grabbed him. I didn’t care anymore at that point. We were leaving.

I would have had some choice words for his teacher, but there were other kids around and I needed to pick up my older son from his school which also let out at the same time.

Jonah continued to scream and started hitting me as I carried him to the car.

I let him…because, Good Lord, the kid just wanted his Daddy and to go home.

But now it was ruined. For no reason at all.

He was sobbing, frustrated, and angry. He took turns holding me and hugging me, and slapping me in the face while I carried him to the car.

It makes me sad. He has been doing so well lately.

He has learned a ton this year about social settings and has behaved very well with the other kids.

He seems to like his school, but when I see things like THAT, it makes me not want to send him back.

And it’s not that I’m against the “holding a teachers hand to walk to the parent” policy, but that should have been implemented a LONG time ago when the end-of-the-day routine was established and consistently enforced for EVERY student EVERY TIME.

I mean, there are what… twenty-some odd school days left until summer break and we are trying to introduce new routines NOW?

It’s so frustrating.

**a couple hours pass to cool down.**

But I get it. I do. I come from a family of educators. So I am not going to be quick to pass judgement.

Preschool teachers, especially special needs instructors, are tasked with jobs that are more difficult than almost any other job in education.

Of course Jonah’s teacher isn’t going to see the meltdown coming. She doesn’t know him like I do. She is just doing what she thinks is best for teaching him and getting him accustomed to adjustments in routine.

I really do believe she had his best interests in mind, though I didn’t see it the same.

I think that open communication with an educator is vital to a successful learning environment.

So, while I am frustrated by today’s events, I can still see the progress Jonah is making and I won’t discount everything she has obviously taught him because of 5 minutes I observed.

And instead of staying pissed off about it, I will talk with her about it tomorrow and help to find a solution.

Perhaps I can simply walk him from the wall myself and this can be avoided in the future.

One can hope.

Jason Reynolds
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Jason Reynolds

Jason is a freelance photographer and graphic designer. He is also a parent of Jonny (9) and Jonah (4) who was diagnosed with Autism in December 2016.
Jason Reynolds
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