Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Danger in the Classroom

on December 3, 2010
In this technique the punch is blocked and a c...

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I’ve determined today that I am sometimes scared of my job.  If you aren’t aware, I teach middle school special education.  The students I teach have a wide variety of learning, medical, and physical disabilities. Most of them get along day to day with only minor issues.  However, there are many students we serve that have much different problems and some who even can get violent. Which leads me to my opening statement – I am sometimes afraid of what I do.

I just finished the second day of a three day, nine hour total training dealing with de-escalation techniques.  Today we were working on dealing with students who may physically assault us.  We learned how to block kicks, punches, how to get out of choke holds and how to get out of a hair pulling situation.  We had fun doing it – who hasn’t wanted to throw a punch (albeit in slow motion) at a co-worker – but we were also really aware of the reality that we could actually have to use this someday.

Back in my first month of teaching,  I found myself in a bad situation.  Tension had been building all week between two of my freshman. I had talked to our dean about the situation and asked for advice.  He said that there really wasn’t anything that anyone could do besides telling them to stop it (which I had done) until one of them did something.  That happened on Thursday.  Unfortunately, I found myself between the two boys, one going after the other.  I saw the fist just before it struck the side of my head. It hurt, but not terribly, and I was dazed for a moment. The other students, content to sit back and watch their peers fight, got very upset when I was hit and pulled the kids off of each other. I got to the phone, called the dean and he escorted them to the office. One of the students was permanently removed from my classroom and later moved to a different school (for a variety of reasons, not just this incident).

Ever since then, I have been very aware of how dangerous my job can be. I work with students who cannot control their impulses, who don’t always know how to deal with the emotions they are feeling, and sometimes see their only option as violence.  Doing this training has made me uncomfortable about what I may have to do someday. However, I am glad I’m getting this training because the goal is peaceful de-escalation without anyone – me or the student – getting hurt.

I guess I never thought of being a school teacher as being a dangerous job. But it certainly can be.

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One response to “Danger in the Classroom

  1. Robert says:

    Yikes! Anytime that happens (a teacher gets punched, even accidentally) the student kinda forfeits their right to stay in that school. Personally, I’m glad they got moved. Sometimes it’s good for kids to learn about the legal boundaries their normal life will naturally and justifiably impose upon them.

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