As I have mentioned before, I teach science to seventh graders at a large middle school in Indiana. Most days, I enjoy teaching, and I like teaching the seventh grade child. Although fraught with hormonal issues, the seventh grade child has many endearing moments. On the other hand, the middle school child can be so volatile. Because of the hormones and the volatility, children in the seventh grade tend to fight with each other both verbally and physically. In the past, when my students fight, I would move heaven and earth to stop the fight. A number of times, I have been successful at stopping impending fights and intervening in ongoing altercations.
About two weeks ago, two of my students had some disagreement in the hallway. When I see a fight, my first instinct is to separate the participants. I moved toward the fighting boys and tried to pull one boy away from the other. Additionally, a larger boy moved to separate the two fighters. Somehow, during the conflagration, I was knocked to the floor hitting the back of my head. The fight ended shortly, and some kind students helped me off the floor. I walked one of the boys to the office, and the vice-principal escorted the other boy.
I was not seriously injured from my fall to the floor. Neither boy meant to hurt me. In fact, one of the boys apologized for my fall. However, after reviewing this episode, I am considering changing my response to these explosive situations. Additionally, the security guard and the principal have urged me to refrain from becoming physically involved in the children's squabbles. This may be difficult for me as I instinctively try to prevent violence. However, I may not be the powerful peace advocate that I imagine. Instead, I may be closer to the frail aging woman as seen by my male principal and the male security guard.
Maybe it is time to give-up intervening in the fist-a-cuffs. Of course, I am NOT going to let the children duke-it-out. But, I have been convinced to use a more practical and probably more effective method of stopping fights. That method is to send for help.