by Philadelphia teacher and APPS supporter Daun Kaufman.
Jose was one of the calmest, quietest, most peaceful boys in the classroom. The kind of boy everybody loves.
Jose had thick, coal-black hair and matching black-marble eyes. He was always in an immaculate, crisp school uniform, often with a warm sweater around his sturdy frame. Jose’s family never adjusted to the cool northeastern temperatures in winter. They were from a small town in Panama, emigrated here shortly before Jose’s birth and now live in a quiet, clean, working class neighborhood
Jose lived with two cousins, an uncle, an aunt, Mom, baby brother and sometimes Dad. He had been an only child until October of second grade, when his brother was born.
Jose is very proud of “his country”, Panama. His passion is soccer. He loved everything about soccer. If there was a televised soccer game involving Panama, Jose knew all about it.
Jose’s strong academic performance had begun in first grade. His reading level in September, at the start of second grade, was about half-year ahead, in the top 10% of the class and his math results were in the top quarter of the class.
Looks great so far, right ?
.WHEN YOU LOOK INSIDE A CLASSROOM THERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU CAN NOT SEE
A few weeks into the new school year Jose’s reserved social traits began to intensify. He was always polite and respectful, but at that point he became unusually silent, a moody silent: frowning. He began ‘forgetting’ his glasses about half the time. He stopped participating in class. When called on to answer a question, Jose often hadn’t heard the question. Inattentive and forgetful, he sometimes completely checked-out with his head in his arms, down on the desk. He was unresponsive and avoidant with classmates. At first, I thought sleep-deprived, which usually resolves itself after adjusting to new school year routines. Now that the calendar reached into October I began to suspect something more.
As the year continued on into late October/November, Jose’s academic pattern emerged to be wildly inconsistent. A student’s literacy results are usually in a narrow range. There aren’t usually wild swings between ‘A/B’ and ‘D/F’, week by week, which was Jose’s pattern.
Jose’s behaviors were more than ‘daydreaming’: he was detached, forgetful, ‘stunned’ even, with muted responses, low energy, easily fatigued and more – all in context of fluctuating academics.
Also see the companion article: