Major windstorms in the area knocked out the power in the middle school up the road (they still had school sans electricity) and fried the district’s internet servers, which meant no internet all day today and tomorrow – no access to gradebook, attendance, email, or Pandora. Thank goodness my kids were doing boring old-school stuff like filling in a study guide for their test tomorrow. Still, it made the day weird right off the bat.
This term I have morning duties, standing by the front door of the school with my cup of coffee and a bunch of other teachers and telling kids to take their hats off as they walk in the door. It’s an important job. Today it got more important: two girls decided to have a loud cussing match across the foyer and some guys marched up ready to get involved. I didn’t participate in breaking up the potential fight, but I did talk down some of my girl students who looked ready to join in. I believe they were fighting about a guy. So. Not. Worth it. I think I need to lobby city council to try to get a mall or movie theater or something in town so our students have something better to do than get physical with the other gender and then fight their own gender about it. Every fight I’ve heard about in this school involves someone’s ex. So stupid.
Anyway, later on in my day, one of the boys who wanted to fight this morning came into my class really, really sullen. First, he sat at his desk with his arms folded, staring straight ahead, not doing his work or even responding to my queries. Next, he asked if he could borrow some other guy’s phone and go to the bathroom to make a phone call (obviously, that’s a negative). Then, he got up and marched over to one of the other volatile boys in class and started verbally harassing him, saying, “So I heard you wanted to fight me.” Apparently it had something to do with the first kid’s ex-girlfriend moving back into town and the second kid supposedly being interested (he assured me he was NOT). Again, violence over a girl. Stupid.
Obviously I did not want this kid going WWE and chucking a desk at another kid – legally, I am not allowed to TOUCH a kid, even to break up a fight. I told the first boy to sit down and not bother anyone else or I would send him to ISS with a blue card. He didn’t move, so I wrote the blue card and tried to hand it to him with his bag. He told me he wasn’t leaving the classroom. His friend sitting close by, listening, kept telling him, “Just take the card man, just take it and go.” He didn’t move, so with our communications down, I pushed the emergency button on the wall by my desk. This calls the front office and a student rep asks what I need over the PA system. I was trying not to show how badly I was shaking, and requested an assistant principal be sent down. He arrived quickly and escorted my angry young man out of the classroom without incident. I was so proud of the student he was picking on; four months ago they probably would’ve gotten into a serious brawl. This young man has been making a conscious effort to shape up the last few weeks, and he assured me that, “I don’t want to go to jail this year.” He’s been in brushes with the law before, and I told him that’d be a good decision this year and every year. He nodded and continued working on his study guide.
Potential crisis averted, although it was the first time anything even semi-scary has gone down in my class. I guess I should consider myself lucky it didn’t happen until March when I feel a little stronger about my authority as a teacher. Possibly by coincidence, later in the day another teacher asked me if I had my CHL (concealed handgun license) and how I felt about the current discussion of arming teachers. On a day like today, I feel like that would have been a TERRIBLE idea – this could be just the kid who might hit me to get my weapon, and we do not need kids shooting other kids with weapons they obtained on school property. It made me really sad for the boy who was the instigator; if he continues to take every word and look as a perceived threat, he WILL end up doing damage someday soon and land himself in prison, very soon – he’s already 17. Just yesterday he was the leader in the class discussion about the poem we were reading, so I know he has really good, down-to-earth days. How on earth can I reach a kid like this if he keeps “relapsing”?
On the bright side, my Green Bay Packers license plate frame came in for my new car, so I can finally “pimp my ride”, as my students keep telling me to do. That’s nice.