My classes name is Panda Class. Seven gorgeous children between 9-10 years old who have a wide range of special needs, including behaviour difficulties, developmental delays, learning difficulties, emotional trauma, autistsm, delayed social and language development. A real mixed bag of challenges…but I love them all dearly!
Today however, my love and patience was well and truly tested.
We had a school outing to the Airforce Museum. We had seven children and three staff members, most people would agree that that is a pretty good student:teacher ratio.
However, add to the mix a whole new and stimulating environment filled with REAL airplanes (that you weren’t allowed to touch) a wide open hanger just asking to be used as a runway for unruly children and only a small piece of rope 12 inches off the ground (perfect tripping height!) to separate the two.
Within seconds the battle was well and truly on! One child running this way, one child running that way, one jumping over the rope and up onto the plane with a security guard in pursuit.
One staff member running this way hoping to cut off the two runners, myself running after the jumper heading toward the aircraft with a warning sign ‘This Aircraft is Armed’ and one staff member corralling all the others into a confined area to minimise a full on ‘copycat stampede’!
Needless to say the rest of the day didn’t get much better. Multiple time-outs, physical restraints, kicking and screaming fits and general ‘pandamonium’ with all staff in ‘battle station mode’ trying to contain chaos for te next 4 hours, ending with First Aid being administerd for one child who tripped on the ropes (although it wasn’t too serious thank goodness!)
After carrying most of the children back to the bus, and finally getting them on their buses to go home…we heading to the pub with my ‘shell shocked’ staff for a defrief of todays carnage.
So what did we learn from today?
1. We need more staff for outings, thats for sure!
2. We should have done a reconiscance of the situation to prepare the children and give them the ground rules before entering the building in a safe and contained area.
3. Big open spaces filled with exciting objects can over-excite and overwhelm some children. They need to know how to handle this situation and we need to be able to manage it and teach them how BEFORE hand.
4. What was management thinking about putting a small insignificant tripable barrier to try and protect ARMED aircrafts?!
5. Never underestimate children!
That pint of beer honestly never tasted so good!