Thursday, April 05, 2007

Fight Club

An argument between two students turns violent. One shoves the other; that student returns the agression; then, one student throws a punch. What do you do? You are the teacher; it is in your room.
A substitute teacher in Florida found himself with that decision--do I intervene, or do I call for help? The teacher called for an administrator. Now, at least one parent is angry that he did not stop the fight.
The teacher followed school policy for handling the fight. The video shows the two students in full fight mode, but we don't get to see the lead. Perhaps the substitute could have prevented the fight, but perhaps he couldn't have. The fight happened, he followed protocol, now the parent villifies him? Hmmm......
I have never witnessed a full out fight on my campus, though there have been many. I don't know what I would do. Our administrators asked us to say, "Student A (assuming we know the student's name), this is Mr. McNamar; stop fighting." Or something along those lines. Again, hmmm....
Breaking up a fight can be hazardous to a teacher's health, but not breaking up the fight can be hazardous to the student's health. As for the article's report that the teacher said, "Let them fight," we cannot assume this statement as support for the fight. He most likely meant that the non-offending students should stay away and, well, let the two involved be the only two involved.
The point, however, is not to defend or villify the teacher. My question is first, how can a mother whose daughter involved herself in a fight, attack the teacher's decision to call an administrator? The second question is, how does this story constitute news? Even Fox News' Hannity and Colmes interviewed one of the students and her mother.


At 11:37 AM , Blogger ms-teacher said...

Yet another example of parents not holding their child accountable for their actions. If this teacher had gotten hurt by getting involved, I wonder how she would have reacted to a lawsuit being thrown her way?

As I mentioned in a previous post here, I'm only 5' tall. I tell my students that if punches are thrown, I'm not going to endanger myself or my livelihood by getting in the middle of swinging fists. That being said, I have found myself in the middle of two rather tall middle school boys as they were exchanging very heated words.
Luckily, no punches were thrown.

I try to stop a fight before it happens, but if it gets to that next level, I'm calling the office so they can send our campus security.

My former principal used to say that I was a pitbull wrapped up in a chihuahua's body :)

At 4:26 PM , Blogger Dan Edwards said...

IIRC, we teachers are supposed to try to keep students from harming one another. At my school ( 7-8 grade jhs), we have had two teachers injured breaking up fights. One of these teachers, an SDC teacher, had her back injured and was unable to return to teaching.

I myself usually have no problem grabbing the junior pulgist/wrestlers by the back of their shirts and pulling them apart. Being 6' tall and on the bulky side doesn't hurt either.

IMO, a person subbing at a school should not have to break up fights. School administrators need to get off their asses and get out on their campuses during passing periods, lunch, before and after school.

At 6:52 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My school system, Prince George's County Public Schools in Maryland, makes it very clear about teachers and breaking up fights. if a teacher physically gets into breaking up a fight and a child is injured, the teacher is personally liable and could be criminally charged. The systems tells teachers to call for help and yell at the fighting students, but NEVER to touch them.

At 5:46 PM , Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

My district leaves it up to the teacher. I have some experience in breaking up fights, and I would rather keep kids from being hurt, as long as I feel I can intervene without being harmed-- not for me, but because about 23 large boys would then try to beat the crap out of anyone who harmed me. Seriously.

The last time I had to gently but firmly physically restrain a kid who was fighting, his parents were later effusively grateful.

But legally, all you have to do is repeat firmly and audibly that they should stop and get help. And if you don't feel comfortable, don't step in.


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