My 4-year-old student was sweet the first day I met her, to the point where I wondered why her teacher had even referred her for Special Education Itinerant Teaching (SEIT) services. The second day I went, she was absent. The third day I went was last Monday -- and she was terrible! She didn't want to sit in morning circle, she wouldn't share with another child at the listening station, she roamed from station to station at choice time, staying less than three minutes at each one.
"She was so annoying!" I complained to the Nicest Guy in the World that night.
"Isn't your job to make her less annoying?" he asked.
"Yes, but I don't know how!" I wailed. All I could think was that she had come to school late, rubbing her eyes like she was exhausted, so I thought maybe she just hadn't gone to bed early enough the night before.
Then on Tuesday she came on time, and she was great. She picked out and read a few sight words correctly, and she even played a whole game of Candyland with me for 25 minutes. But on Wednesday she was absent. On Thursday she apparently came to school -- she has counseling Thursday mornings, so that's the one day I don't see her -- but when I showed up on Friday, she was absent again. The teacher told me the girl is absent a lot, routinely missing a couple of days of school per week.
Then the teacher said, "They're staying at a shelter, because of domestic violence against her mom. They have a lot of problems."