Wednesday, 11 March 2009

The week that was

Well all, I promised that I would keep you up to date from time to time, so here it is (uncensored this time!)
PLEASE remember that this is a confidential site, please do not circulate info back to anyone who may be problematic for anyone here, thanks.

We got over the census week where we needed 60 students with 58 students, so that was good. At least there will be the money to keep things rolling.

We have had a torrid time of it here still, with lots of incidents, which I will elaborate below.

When we arrived back this year we were told that one community had a rape and a stabbing there, this was pretty sad news of course.
It was a little later that we discovered that both incidents involved students from our school.

The girl involved in the rape is now not the same as she was before, and being very promiscuous at school, and this had resulted in a whole girls house being sent home during the week, as they were out with the boys, disabling alarms etc so the boys could get out for them.

We had a girl expelled for using a kitchen cooking knife at school during a fight, a premeditated act.
Judith went around a building to see her and discovered she had the knife. Unable to leave she sat with her and prayed...lots.
Finally some girls came around the corner and sparked an angry response in the child with the knife, a fight ensued and the girl was disarmed. Sadly she is now expelled from school permanently, sad because she has no other school options available to her now, and we love her dearly here. She has always been picked on, and knows how to retaliate and not much else.
Judith was quite shaken by this incident.

We then had another incident where a child had knives again, and that took some stopping. One community member was cut on the hand, grabbing at the knife to remove it from her.
And these were not the one involved in the stabbing at the community!!

We have had a lot of mobile phone abuse in class, including filming fights where teachers have had to restrain students, which is a concern if any of the video got out, especially out of context.
We have had a terrible time with smokes being used and passed around, even during class breaks. The Tiwi love their tobacco, and parents supply them with it from a very young age in some instances. It was a real problem.

So.... finally we had last Monday and Tuesday and Student Free days, which included some professional councilors who were to speak to staff one-on-one as there was a lot of disquiet amongst us, due to the stress we are all under and there were some strange emails etc circulating which caused anger amongst a lot of us.
We also spend considerable time on firming up a consistent set of rules. (Duh!!!)

One statement made by the Principal was excellent. He said he was prepared to shut down a Family Group Home (FGH) and not worry about numbers so that we could develop a culture that was workable here (Duh also!!!!).
We have been trying to get to that all last year, and those that have left will sing out a shout of relief I am sure.

So.. Now we have a No Phones at school policy, all phones are to be handed in on Monday to be kept safe (they get stolen if left at home), and no tobacco at all, ever.
This will be interesting in the next few weeks to see who can get through the nicotine barrier. So far more kids turned up on Monday than I thought would, and they seem to be OK-ish so far.
There is a zero tolerance towards violence or threats towards staff (Duh!!).
We have a Blue Ticket and a Gold Ticket system in place now.

Students get a blue one for poor behavior, and 5 tickets brings a detention, 3 detentions brings a suspension, 2 suspensions brings an expulsion.

Gold tickets are rewards for good behavior above the usual expectations of good behaviour, 5 bring a reward, 15 bring a major reward.

This is the first week and we have some way to go yet.

Yesterday was the first day of detentions.

I told three boys they were on detention, spending 5 minutes explaining how and why it worked. They were happy enough but then one kid went off with his towel to go swimming with the rest of the kids (remember this is after 5 minutes of me and a house parent talking him through it all!).
We asked him where he was going and he replied 'Swimming'. We said he would have to stop behind to go to detention and he spat it. 'This F^&%ing shool, I don't f*&%ing care about this school.....' etc etc.
They just don't get it yet.

It continues to be difficult, hard to get them to respond in and out of class, and that is the fatiguing aspect most of all here.
One new teacher said it is this aspect that makes him so tired.
We agree.

We haven't had a Wet here really yet, and is seems that it is all over already.
We had perhaps two weeks of major rain and then nothing.
I think it has all been drawn to the West and East coasts.
This means that we have been able to drive the students home every weekend...hooray.
If we were unable to do that they were talking of allowing them to stay for 3 or 6 weeks at a time.
I reckon most would have resigned by now if that had happened.

It continues to be a magical place to live, when the kids aren't here here :-)
However after 7 weeks I am starting to fantasise about Pizza, you know, the 'bad for you' kind.
And I am not that fond of pizza either.
Bicardi and Coke... well that's a whole new level of fantasy.

It is very hot and humid, with little cloud to shield us during the day, but the nights are magnificent, getting down to about 27 degrees, perfect!

Bet those in Toowoomba wish it was that temp there now, eh.

There is a million other things that I have forgotten, but that brings you up to date a bit.

Please remember to be private with this info. I don't want to get into trouble, OK.

Take care.

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