Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Day 51

Lukie and I were discussing just this morning how nice it had been that there were no recent fights. Ooops.

Third period. We're talking about "Character-Changing Events." The kids are brainstorming ideas for a memoir assignment. We're having a good time in class, joking, teasing, and trying to outdo each others' stories. There are some good ideas for memoirs. Suddenly I hear the undeniable sound of a building fight in the hall--a chorus of shouting, an eager encouraging cheering. I see TR jump out of his seat and before I can get to the door he's out in the hall. I peep out behind him and see a ring of kids with a lot of bustling in its midst. I pull the door shut and call for the police. Lukie sees the look I give her. She darts over, opens the door and slips into the hall. I pull the door shut again, and have 22 students pushing on me to let them out in the hall. I keep both hands on the knob, pulling it toward me. The kids are pulling at my arms, trying to get by. Some of them are pleading "Please Mr. G, let us see."

TR comes back and I open the door to let him in. "They ain't fightin' no more anyhow," he says. Everyone is returning to their seats. I look out to see Lukie with her arms around Rasheer, and another big 8th grade girl backing toward me. Rasheer is a moose. She's about 180 pounds of packed muscle, and is severely emotionally disturbed. If her one-on-one assistant is in school, she's a charming child, and quite bright. But her assistant is a lazy piece of shit who shows up about 50% of the time, and is not present today. As I'm looking I see Lukie lose her grip on Rasheer, who charges like a bull with her head down. Her quarry grabs Rasheer by the hair extensions. Beads fly everywhere. Then the punching starts. This is no traditional girl-fight. This is a beat-down.

I've been told not to intervene in fights now until I get "crisis intervention training," so I put my arms on either side of the doorway with my back to the hall and determine that none of my kids are getting out of class. Again I've got 22 kids pushing on me, this time without benefit of a closed door. My fingernails are scraping along the painted cement blocks but I don't budge. Rasheer is landing heavy blows just behind me. One of the combatants scratches me, drawing blood down my left arm near the elbow. I turn my head away from the fight and look over my right shoulder at the cheering mob of students who've spilled out of the other classrooms. There are administrators, teachers, and finally a police officer in the mix. I see Tony Wheelie fly through the air over his classmates' heads and land with a thud. Hammerhead is on the floor getting pummeled by three other guys. I note that Lukie also has bloodied elbows; she is trying to grapple Rasheer behind me while avoiding the flying fists. Mr. C. has a death grip on some kid's arm, Mr. H. is employing the Marine Corps choke hold on another. I start taking blows in my back from Rasheer. She punches like George Foreman--no accuracy, but a lot of force.

Officer Black sprays mace. Rasheer freaks out. "I need my one-on-one!" she shrieks. As she reaches for her phone Black grabs her around the neck and slams her to the floor. Both girls are bloody. The plastic cuffs come out.

And then it's over. The new long-term sub for Miss R is appalled. "It only took ten seconds to escalate from two kids to fifty." She is shaking. Her suit jacket is torn. I shrug. Blood is dripping down my arm onto the floor. "That's all it usually takes. Just be glad there were no knives."

Funny how this was all new to me three months ago. Now it's just another day.


ellen cherry said...

jeebus Geoff. PLEASE be careful. this stuff scares me. and i'm 32. i can't imagine being a 14 year old in the midst of this.

take care of yourself.

Nyarlathotep said...

The 14-year-olds LOVE it. They can't wait for a fight, and practically pee themselves with delight. When Rasheer was punching the other girl in the face I felt sick just hearing it, but my students relished every blow, and wanted nothing more than to get in the mix. A "character-defining moment" for all.