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luv2teach2017 luv2teach2017 is offline
 
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luv2teach2017
 
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Risky business?
Old 02-23-2020, 08:21 AM
 
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I am a substitute teacher in elementary schools. I really enjoy teaching the younger kids. However the downside of elementary schools is that sometimes non-teaching staff and parents behave as if they are in their own home rather than a public school.

They sometimes forget there are policies and rules that we have to follow. I’ve had issues with the overly casual attitude in the past, but the other day was a first. My question is, what would you do?

I was teaching a 1st grade class (I’ve subbed for this class several times before). During recess, one little girl injured her ankle. She was in pain and couldn’t walk on that foot. (As a side note, she was wearing over-sized, high-heeled slip-on ankle boots…not exactly the right footwear for a 1st grader on the playground.) I had a couple of students help her walk (hop) to the office, figuring that a parent would pick her up. Didn’t happen.

Instead, a para helped her back to class. Apparently, no one answered when the office tried to call her parents. The girl was OK as long as she sat in the classroom, but then at lunch time, she needed to get to the cafeteria. The same two students helped her hop there. During recess (my lunch break), she ended up sitting on the playground, where she got hit with a ball!

After recess, I was lining up the class when suddenly the office secretary and the para appeared and started examining the girl’s foot. They were propping her up and manipulating and turning her ankle, causing her to yelp in pain. I was concerned and asked them to stop.

Now district policy says that we are not allowed to offer medication to students, and we’re cautioned to avoid even touching them. I advised the two (young) women that it wasn’t a good idea to manipulate her injured ankle since they are not medical professionals.

The secretary snapped “I’m the nurse today. And besides, I know her mother.” I then said, “OK, but I’m in charge of these students today, and I could be liable. For the record, I don’t agree with this and am not taking responsibility. " The two women looked surprised at what I said. Fortunately, they put her foot down and left. They didn't return.

I decided to keep the girl in the classroom during the last recess to avoid any further problems or injuries. When class dismissed, she was still unable to walk, so I helped her to the office. (BTW: An hour after school let out, the little girl was still sitting in the office waiting to be picked up! I felt really sorry for her. Seems no one at home was looking out for her.)

This isn’t the first time I’ve had issues with how other adults have intervened inappropriately with my class. But this was the most concerning for me because it involved school staff tampering with a student’s injury in my presence. I could see a lawsuit happening. (I thought about mentioning the incident to the principal, but he wasn't around that day.)

I’d like to hear your experiences with this kind of thing. Has anything similar happened to you? What actions did/would you take?



Last edited by luv2teach2017; 02-23-2020 at 08:47 AM..
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bodhimom bodhimom is online now
 
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Old 02-23-2020, 09:22 AM
 
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Once I report something to the office, I consider it to be in their hands. I might give them my ideas, or thoughts, but they make the final decision.
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luv2teach2017 luv2teach2017 is offline
 
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Old 02-23-2020, 10:23 AM
 
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That would be nice, but in my experience, merely reporting it to the office is no guarantee I'm off the hook. A single parent complaint, no matter how unwarranted, will get me banned. Even after I've reported it to the office. ( It's happened to me before.)

In this case, the office sent her back to me but then later, at my classroom and in front of me and my other students, the secretary and para started rotating her ankle and foot. I felt I needed to verbally opt out of any responsibility.
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bodhimom bodhimom is online now
 
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Old 02-23-2020, 10:47 AM
 
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I'm just saying what I do. I wouldn't have been that aggressive. But that's me.

I reported, last week, what I thought was a safety issue in a class, and I suggested an alternative that changed the lesson plan the teacher left. They agreed with me and actually said I made a good call.

But... if they would have said that it was fine, I would have gone ahead with the lesson plan.

It is their school. They know what goes on way better than I do. Maybe it really wasn't a problem. I think I could have defended myself if an issue came up, if the office had said it was o.k.

I don't think it's a good idea to butt heads with the office. I just presented my case, and why, and my alternative. It was their final decision.

I try to add something helpful, not criticize the staff. I didn't even want the teacher to get in trouble. I just wasn't comfortable with it, and explained why.

It is hard to tell, without actually seeing what happened, ourselves. If they were just trying to ascertain whether the girl should be taken to the hospital, that is one thing. If they were just willy-nilly hurting the girl, that is different. I think I would have just been a witness, though.

You asked what we would do. That's probably what I would have done, but, again, without being there, it is hard to say. And I work with h.s. students, who can add their input, as well, so that's different from a six year old.
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Old 02-23-2020, 12:28 PM
 
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I wouldn't say I was aggressive. I was caught in the middle. The little girl cried out because they were hurting her. She looked directly at me. I felt it was my responsibility to act on her behalf because they were going too far. ( As you pointed out, a 6 year old may have trouble speaking up for herself.)

I'm used to teaching little ones. They often have accidents at recess. The school nurses may give them a bandaid or an ice pack. But nothing more. The parent is called if it's something more serious that requires treatment. If the parent can't be reached, the child commonly stays in the nurse's office until they can go home. The nurses I've seen will not attempt to manipulate or diagnose an injury.

These women were not nurses, and judging from how sheepish they acted after I spoke up, it seemed clear they knew they had not used good judgement.

Thing is, as substitute teachers, we are also considered mandated reporters and expected to report suspected child abuse. Even though they were school staff, i felt they were overstepping their bounds with this child and felt I needed to speak up. I'm not sorry I did.

The little girl knew I had helped her. She later told me that she hoped I would come back.

I am now wondering if I should report the incident to my HR supervisor.



Last edited by luv2teach2017; 02-23-2020 at 12:46 PM..
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Old 02-23-2020, 01:01 PM
 
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I think what surprises me most is that they couldn't get ahold of a parent.

One thing I do when I'm not sure what to do is think, "What would the parent want me to do?" I've always used this, and it's never steered me wrong.

If you think it was bad enough that the parent would want you to to report it, I might report it. I'm sure you know that there would likely be consequences. Did you ever see the parent? What did they say?
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Old 02-23-2020, 01:36 PM
 
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That's a good point about considering the parents' wishes. In this case, I'm sure no parent would want to risk aggravating their child's injury.

The parents never did show up. As I mentioned before, I left an hour after dismissal time and the girl was still sitting in the office waiting to be picked up! They were ready to close. Very sad.

Judging from her clothes and shoes, it was clear her parents don't have money. The office staff said they weren't surprised that her parents didn't call. (All the same, parents like that may be quick to sue if they see dollar signs.)

These tricky situations come with the job, unfortunately.
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Accident report
Old 02-23-2020, 02:39 PM
 
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I'm a little concerned that there is no mention of your writing an accident report. Usually when a child is injured, a brief report is written by any witnesses (maybe you weren't with the students during recess, but certainly some adult was supervising). And if a child is sent to the nurse (or whoever is "acting as nurse" that day), something is written down. Usually there is a form that has the time, the child's name, what the health concern was, and was done.

I would share your concern about a non-medically trained person manipulating the ankle. But I'm also concerned about the wisdom of sending a 1st grade child hopping (on one high heeled boot!) to the nurse's office, with the assistance of two other first graders. Most schools have a wheelchair available for such situations--or even a desk char on wheels.
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Old 02-23-2020, 02:56 PM
 
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Our secretaries do a lot of nursing duties and dealing with parents, so I would have let them handle it. Plus, they are there with the kids every day, so ours know which kids have tendencies to over exaggerate or which ones have parents who arenít likely to be reachable. We have several parents who block the school number. They will only answer their kidís number.
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Old 02-23-2020, 03:16 PM
 
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TAOEP: I've subbed lower grades in a few different districts for 4 years, and it's standard practice to send kids to the nurse with classmates as helpers. It wasn't very far, and I believe she took the boots off.

A handy wheelchair would have been nice. But these are low income schools with few resources. Even the secretary (acting "nurse" ) did not offer a wheelchair or any other accommodations for the girl. In fact, the girl was sent hobbling back to my classroom!


As far as reporting, I did not see the incident. Another child had witnessed the fall and came to get me. The same child went to the office with her. So I'm sure the office spoke with them both and took care of the report. I did explain the incident in my notes for the regular teacher though.

I'm an older adult and experienced sub. I feel I made the right choices given the circumstances. Just wondered if anyone else had experienced something similar to this situation (see my earlier posts).



Last edited by luv2teach2017; 02-23-2020 at 06:25 PM..
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With you!
Old 02-24-2020, 03:52 AM
 
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We're fortunate that we have an excellent school nurse... the office will occasionally handle minor boo-boos with bandaids and icepacks but they do NOT substitute for a qualified nurse. These can be difficult situations--some kids truly try to "milk" even the most minor injury. That's not something a sub would necessarily be able to judge and we ought to err on the safe side. We also have a "first response" team of staff when there's an accident--depending on the severity they arrive with a wheelchair, etc. Our protocol is clear: the teacher's (sub's) job is to manage the rest of the students... but that doesn't mean we are no longer responsible for the child who had the accident.

What I think is important to note here is that the initial response was apparently non-existent and then two clearly unqualified people came to YOUR classroom.

Quote:
I'm an older adult and experienced sub. I feel I made the right choices given the circumstances. Just wondered if anyone else had experienced something similar to this situation (see my earlier posts).
Based on what I read, I totally support how you handled the situation and say "thank you" for taking your job and responsibilities seriously. When I am subbing, I call them "my kids" and believe that I have the same level of responsibility and accountability as the regular teacher. Yes, it's about legality but it's also about protecting "my" kids. I often encourage subs to "Google" in parentis loco. This is not an easy job and we are often called upon to make some tough choices.

The closest incident I had along these lines is a bit of a long story but it involved a social worker interfering with my handling of a child who was homesick. She actually took the child to her office without my knowledge (I had to report a missing student) by grabbing her in the hall on the way to the bathroom, called the parent, etc. I did complain to administration, primarily over the fact the social worker did not discuss or advise me she had taken the child. I received full support from admin, an apology from the social worker who, ironically, was not called back at the end of the year.

I had another incident during a fire drill... my kids were at a special when the alarm went off... I went to join them only to discover that the special teacher had literally lost some of my kids--she'd injured her ankle earlier in the day and was having difficulty walking. She fell while exiting and (her words) "got trampled." Fortunately, some kids stopped and helped her--but they too were "missing" from the appropriate assembly area. The specials teacher wasn't even sure how many kids he was supposed to have. It was one of the more frightening experiences I've had and all I could do to keep from screaming at him, "YOU LOST SOME OF MY KIDS??!!" I mentioned the incident to both admin and the regular teacher and read "my" kids the riot act about what we do during drills. They wanted to blame the teacher--but another's failure is not an excuse for not doing the right thing. They were angels the rest of the day!

In short form, I don't think we can take our responsibilities too seriously. Frankly, I do not agree with "what would the parent want?" I've seen some pretty bad parenting. My question is always "What is in the best interest of this child?"

Well done, Luv2teach2017.
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Old 02-24-2020, 09:00 AM
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