I was an after-school IT club adjunct teacher, called in to work abruptly to an all-boy elementary school with a less-than-stellar reputation for ‘bad behavior’. I was told to be cautious, but I did not expect a student to suddenly pick up his chair – the heavy office chair with wheels – and THROW it at his classmate sitting at a similar desk to him.
The last words of sanity that came from me were “What the hell is GOING ON?!?!”
I think the class froze. I barely recall telling the class student leaders to keep everyone on task. I told the two boys to come out with me and I sorted it out. It was the typical ‘bully and bullied’ case where a kid’s teasing (read: bullying) went too far and he said something very hurtful to the other. Something that went on for the whole year with counseling, parent intervention, I can’t recall the rest but the bullied poured out a story. The bully just stood there saying “He started it.”
I think I told them that whatever deal they had with each other, they can deal but they cannot let chairs fly or go into a physical fight. Both were adamant about giving in to each other, but I coerced them to (Discipline office, an official report to their teacher, etc).
The class resumed after that, with students calling me the Hulk for my impressive outburst. After that class, I closed the door of the IT lab and cried for an hour.
That was my first fight I had to break up. Ever. Children, adult, whatever. I did not expect it to shake me that badly. Maybe because when I was in elementary school, I was also isolated and felt like the bullied boy. Maybe it’s because I felt like I had to engage with both these boys on what are essentially life lessons on forgiving, friendship and being an antagonist in someone else’s perspective. Maybe it’s because I went into a flying rage trying to break up a fight (not the best thing to do!)