Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tuesday, Blood, Tears, and Why I Stay

My Tuesday's usually suck.  Last Monday I was determined to make Tuesday NOT suck.  I had everything planned and organized.  I went to bed early so I would have a good night rest.  I read several items from Michael Linsin's  to prepare myself for my most difficult classes.

Everything started off great.  First grade went really well.  I ate my lunch(yes, my lunch is really at 9:45 in the morning) and prepared mentally for the 5th graders.  This particular 5th grade class is so challenging for many reasons, which are for another post, but I was completely ready for them.  I didn't give them a chance to think of anything except what we were doing.  It was the best they have ever behaved and I was the best I have been all year.  By the time 2nd grade came into the art room I was floating on a cloud.  The 2nd grade teacher only brought 19 of her 29 students, which made for a great time.  I was able to give more attention to each student and everyone felt great by the end.  Things were great, admittedly, I was getting really tired from all the hard work.

My 7th grade class arrived.  This class has become so unruly and difficult that nothing I have tried has worked.  They are doing book work now, as they proved too many times that they cannot treat materials, me and/or one another respectfully.  I gave the assignment, then went to work trying to get students to stay in their seats.  Most of the students were actually working on the assignment.  One of the boys had walked out of the room, so I completed a referral form, then told the others not to open the door for him to return.  This boy transferred into the school in April and has given me a challenge since he arrived.  At the first chance when I wasn't looking, someone let the boy back into the art room.    He started arguing with another boy who was not having a good day.  This boy had an upset stomach and really didn't want to be at school, but was stuck without anyone to come get him.  The 2 students started posturing like they were about to fight.  First I asked a different student to go intervene, it didn't look too serious and I was helping a student with her paperwork.  That student actually started clearing the students out of the way and pushing desks away, so the 2 could fight...this is the kind of stuff I am up against at times.  So, I walked over to the 2 boys and put my hand on the difficult student's chest.  He was closest to the door, so I was going to try to get him back out into the hallway.  I tried speaking to him in a calm voice to calm him, but the other student said something that pushed the fight to the next level.  The first punch hit me.

Now, at this point in time is when the brightest teacher knows to just get the heck out of the way...right?!?  I guess I am not the brightest teacher, because I grabbed hold of the really troubled kid's shirt and held tight.  I was certain that I was way bigger than this kid and could get him to stop, get him to the door, get him out of the room.  That didn't happen.  What did happen was that he flung me forward and backward a few times(no, I still hadn't let go of the shirt even though I could hear it ripping).  I guess I finally let go of the shirt about the same time he flipped me into the air.  I came down on the edge of a table, then to the floor on my right knee and ending on my butt, sitting up.  My shoe, from my bad foot/ankle(another story for another day) was a few feet away from me.  I was in a daze and could not figure what was going on for a minute.  Then I saw blood.  Where did it come from?  I looked around, wondering if the other boy was hurt, or was it me.  I checked my face, no blood, then I saw my finger.  It was my ring finger, bleeding pretty bad.  The boys were still trying to fight, but security and several teachers had made their way to my room.  I was being asked if I wanted an ambulance.  The class was being herded out of the room by our STEM specialist.  The boys were being separated.  A security guard was trying to get an administrator to come up to my room and the school counselor was talking to me, but I wasn't really hearing it all.

I somehow managed to get up, get some toilet paper from my desk(because that is where we keep tissue, since students cannot be trusted with a whole roll in the washrooms), get to my desk and find my bandaids.  I couldn't get a bandage on my finger through my shaking.  The counselor helped with this.  A few of the boys were still in the room trying to get things back together for me.  I am so grateful for one of them who picked up my new glasses that had flown off my face and delivered them to me safely.  I finally had it together enough to say I needed police called so I could file a report.  Having been in a situation before where a student assaulted me and I didn't file a report, I knew this needed to be done to protect myself.  I am so grateful for the help of our school counselor.  She helped me do everything(btw, she was assaulted a couple weeks before by a different student, much worse situation than mine).  She went to the teacher of my next class and asked him to not bring his class to art.  He was very supportive.  I packed up my stuff and went to the office to wait for the police officer to arrive.  The police officer interviewed me and the student.  Told me I had the right to have him arrested, but I chose not to do that.  She spoke to the principal, but I have no idea what was said in that conference.  Police report was filled out and I went home.  Administration never said a word to me about the incident and still has not spoken to me about it.

That night at home I cried and cried, then iced my aching knee and finger.  What a blessing it is to have someone at home to support me, hold me and help me get through things like this.  Wednesday morning I headed back to school, but I was so sore all over.  My knee hurt with every step.  My ankle was more stiff and painful than usual.  My finger was too swollen to wear my ring and just about all the rest of my body was aching.  But the worst part was my broken spirit and my mood...full on crabbiness.  I should not have gone to school.  So, Thursday I stayed home, slept a ton and rested my aching body.  Friday I returned to school, still achy, but much better in spirit.  The day was pretty good, but I have to admit that when students are out of their seats for any reason I am very very uncomfortable.

Now, Sunday night, my finger and knee are still sore, but I am fine and ready for another week of school.  An 8th grader who was in the office when all this happened asked me why I don't quit, leave, find a better place.  I told her there are many reasons why I am not going to go away, but after this incident my reasoning is because she and so many other students need to know that a little adversity is not a reason to quit.  My kids push me away in so many ways, because they are so afraid they will come to love me, then I will leave them, hurt them emotionally.  They need me to not leave!


  1. What a terrible thing to happen to you, but what bravery to get back up and keep teaching. Thats some love you have shown for your students. They are truly blessed to have you as a teacher.

  2. Wow! My urban kids are tough, but never this tough. I worry that I will see them on the news in some gang related drive by shooting, a bank robbery or a high school shooting. But so far (knock on. Wood) they have never hurt me physically! I have had a few thrown chairs in my days... But usually can talk them down. I am so sorry you got hurt and work in a place where this is common place. I wish we had better solutions in our country for these growing problems. Hang in there... Not too long till summer break!

  3. You have given me a HUGE jolt of perspective! I teach in Phoenix and have some incredibly nice kids - I just opened this new school with some amazing people. I've had a hard year because of my personal health but have NOTHING to complain about. Please remember how precious you are and take care of yourself.