kinda in shock

November 29, 2007

This morning I got a real taste of what it can mean to be an educator. While walking through the short hallway between our fiction library and the library I work in, I came across two girls who seemed be horsing around in the hall. Soon I realized that they were not playing around but having an all out hair-pulling, kick each other to the ground fight. The kind of fight where they have stopped calling each other names in order to reserve more energy to wail on each other. Obviously I was a little shocked, my white bread, middle class upbringing has done little to teach me how to deal with these sort of things.

This was during the middle of our passing period so there were other kids flooding the hallways, but no other authority figures in sight. I got closer, halfway expecting them to just stop, or maybe security to come running around the corner, or anything that would prevent me from getting involved. Someone did come, a custodian who had been at the other end of the hall. By this time I was near the two girls, standing there, but very uncertain about the wisdom of placing myself directly between these two forces. The custodian grabbed one girl from behind and pulled her back, but the other girl kept going at her. I grabbed her from behind and tried to pull her back.

By the time a huge crowd of kids had formed around the two girls, but still no safety officers. The custodian pulled the other girl around the corner out of the way, leaving me in the hallway surrounded by high schoolers and trying to restrain a struggling strong teenage girl who was hellbent on either escaping or going after the other girl. At one point she broke away from me and headed around the corner, there a safety officer restrained her. This left me unhurt, but completely shaken. I remember at one point the custodian thanking me and asking my name, I waited around for a little bit wondering if I needed to give my account of what I had seen before walking into the back room of the library and completely breaking down.

I am doing better now and I have to say I work with some great people. If you know me at all you know how much I hate to cry in public, let alone the kind of crying the results in big gasping breaths and blowing ones nose a lot. But my colleagues were wonderful, comforting without too much fuss. But even now I have that slightly shaky feeling you get when you feel as if your reserve is running rather low.



  1. wow, abby, that sucks. i’m sorry. that just happened today, huh? how are you doing now?

  2. yeah that was this morning and I was definitely pretty shaken right afterwards, but that has mainly faded and I am feeling pretty good right now. I was lucky in that it could have turned out a lot worse.

  3. Having to hold your ground despite being in contact with intense angry energy is really difficult. I hope I never have to break-up a fight. I remember feeling a bit shaken after having a disagreement with a student who wasn’t following the rules for the first time. Most of them take the correction and at least pretend to change their behavior even if you hear them muttering things under their breath or rolling their eyes. I remember E telling me how Adam MG was really shaken after the fight he had to break-up. At least you didn’t have a class to teach right away, we can be thankful for that. It would have been really hard if your students were staring at you, waiting…as you tried to breathe again.

  4. How scary! That was pretty courageous of you to break up the fight, custodian or no. I would definitely have preferred to be very far away, were I in your shoes. Glad to hear you’re feeling better – big hugs from Seattle coming your way.

  5. ah yes, i know that kind of crying. always seems to happen in awkward situations, eh? well, just know that i did it in front of a teacher i didn’t even know (i was subbing) and she even gave me a hug. people are awesome. …not the kid who made me cry, though. i’m going to want to avoid him for awhile. 🙂 i’m glad that another authority figure was there to help you out…and that the security people finally showed up. sending happy thoughts your way!

  6. I hope you’re feeling better. Funny how we keep it together during the situation and then let it out afterwards. Well done for doing what was required at the time (over and above, I would have thought).

    But, that’s not being an educator, that’s being a bouncer!

    Note to self (for u): never give up present job for security work.

    I saw a very slight security worker in Fed Square in Melbourne on Wednesday, when I was in there for an excursion with Emma’s grade. Despite her size she strutted the strut, and wore those high-waisted pants, and belt with jangly dangly keys with pride. One thing is for certain, I would have been too scared to take her on.

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