Friday, November 9, 2018
The Shoving Match
It's been a while since I had one of these.
Eighth grade science. Friday. Third period.
About a third of the class had left for a field trip. That middle school has been doing some reward things for kiddos who maintain a certain GPA and have no discipline issues. So, basically, the "good kids" had gone.
For those who were left, I told them what their assignment was, and they got to work.
We had been in class for a bit. I had finished taking roll. They were working, albeit loudly.
Then, Jeremy got up for something. As he passed Samuel's desk, he knocked everything off of it.
Eighth graders are clumsy. They're knocking things over all the time. I highly doubt Jeremy meant any malice.
But Samuel was seeing red. He jumped out of his seat and went at Jeremy. And the two were suddenly in a tussle. Arms outstretched, it almost looked like Samuel wanted to strangle Jeremy. They shoved each other back and forth.
Of course, when something like this happens, there's stuff between me and the combatants. Not that I really wanted to get in the middle of it anyway. I made a futile attempt to get them to stop. Some other students intervened to pull them apart. And while I hoped it would end on its own, I knew what I had to do.
It was time to call security.
Since I call security so rarely, I had to look up what number to dial. I got the voicemail of the first person I tried. (Security isn't really at their extension, so I really need to call someone who has a walkie-talkie to notify them.)
And this is where the altercation ended. Both boys were back in their seats.
However, that was a fight, and I have a zero tolerance policy regarding fights in class. If I let them stay after that, I've lost the rest of the class.
I dialed the phone again.
Jeremy approached. He begged me to not call security. It was all over. And no one had thrown any punches.
This was true, but I have a zero tolerance policy because of experience. (I don't mean horseplay or mock fighting. I mean actual anger in the altercation.) If I let them stay, an already difficult class would get so much worse.
So, I dialed again, and this time I got through. Both boys sat in their seats, saying nothing.
Security came and removed them from class.
Only later did I learn this was her difficult group. So, I totally made the right call.
Now, perhaps I'm good for another several years until another one of these happens on my watch.
Samuel stopped by after class looking for candy he had left in the room. He told me that Jeremy had accidentally knocked the stuff off his desk. I wasn't surprised. Maybe next time Samuel will ask for an apology rather than losing his cool.