Thursday, December 17, 2009

Reverting, Re-entering, Progressing

I’m worried – but still hopeful – about Jose. His in-school suspension turned into an out-of school suspension after he got into a fight with another student who was distracting him while he was trying to do his school work. There are two ways I view what happened. On the one hand, that Jose would actually be focusing on doing school work after getting suspended is a total 360 from last year. On the other hand, he reverted to his old behavior by letting the situation with the other student escalate into a physical fight.

Students on out-of-school suspensions are sent to Alternative Learning Centers (ALC). In Jose’s case he had a seven day suspension at an ALC. I worried a lot about him during this time, specifically that the ALC environment might provoke him to revert even further to his old aggressive and erratic behavior. While some ALCs are well managed and orderly, (and Partnership with Children works in several of these), others are mayhem. Unfortunately, Jose was in a more chaotic ALC.

The situation at the ALC was out of my control however. As a social worker I sometimes find myself in a circumstance where I have to accept that I can not control the situation or make it better in the future. In this case, I knew all I could do was plan to make Jose’s re-entry to our school smooth and to make sure he did not have any lingering anger issues from the suspension.

Bottom line, I want to see Jose succeed. We provide a supportive environment in our PACE group (for students that have been held back), but Jose has to eventually learn to handle himself without our support. Maybe I was swayed by the impressive advances he’s made in class and with his peers, and I lost sight of the fact that he is still a teenager working through his emotions and learning to control his behavior. How much can I expect him to grow in just a few months? I have to continue to praise and support him but also check my expectations.

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