I'm trying this again...apparently the internet doesn't believe I should tell my tales....
Oh the stories I could tell...(I don't work as a "normal" teacher, but I have taught in over 100 schools...and I love what I do and still work in education...but that doesn't mean that I don't want to smack someone every now and again)...Some of the stories are disturbing and aren't fun to share (they have more to do w/ parents and adminstrators usually though), so I'll just stick with one really one
Once upon a time, when I was very new to the job, I got an assignment in a 'difficult' school. (any elementary school wher the kids flash gang signs in the hallway likely has problems. A lot of the problems at this school were contributed to by racial tension and poverty)
I had an over-crowded classroom with kids ages 6-9. The administraion had created a nightmare lack of structure. I was doing my darnedest to make some headway (not doing to badly, all things considered) but I continually had to break up fights between child who needs disciplining and a group of other boys. (Luckily at that age, I’m still bigger than they are)
I had been warned the other boys were trouble--and the other boys were a challenge. But something about the situation didn’t feel right… I couldn’t *quite* put my finger on it, but I wasn’t sure child who needs disciplining was being innocent when he was “beaten up.”(it never got to that point in my classroom, but I only had these kids part of the day) I separated them, but to no avail.
(I hadn’t yet gotten the administration involved because child who needs disciplining’s mother was employed by the school and wielded a lot of power. She was also difficult and manipulative.)
child who needs disciplining was “mature” in some ways for his age (did not play well w/ his peers, he considered himself “above” most of them.). He was a bright kid, but the other kids didn’t ostracize him for it, he ostracized himself. He tried very hard to be a teacher’s pet—worked hard to gain the approval of adults, but not his peers. He tried to be a tattle-tale. He was also a master of manipulation.
My opportunity to figure out what was happening came the day I was “accidentally” given a very competent (I trained her, I’m biased) teacher’s aide. I let the aide handle some things and tried to melt into the woodwork so I could observe. (I appeared to be concentrating on some prep-work).
Sure enough, I watched as child who needs disciplining found a reason to be out of arms reach but within earshot of the boys. He started quietly saying things about how dumb the boys were—very racially inflammatory things said in a whisper so that only the 1 or 2 boys he wished to torment could hear. (child who needs disciplining was white. The rest of the boys were of varying races but “not white”). The group of boys, having limited control of their tempers, couldn’t just ignore it. They said things back (loudly, they lacked the masterful manipulations of child who needs disciplining) (The aide ignored this only because I had asked her to.) and child who needs disciplining countered with even more hateful things. And this leads to a near fist-fight.
At that point, I involved the administration.
Apparently, this has been going on for quite some time, but since no one ever heard child who needs disciplining provoke the boys (you didn’t ‘notice’ until the boys responded to him, at which point it was a “he said/he said” situation…and the teachers would only have heard the boys, not child who needs disciplining.)
Bratleys mother was incredibly upset that I dared to accuse her boy of saying racist things (nevermind that I heard them) after she “had given up everything to come and help these poor black children, we coudl afford to be elsewhere, but we are sacrificing to help them...”.
And then Brately’s mother was upset because of course it was obvious these children were picking on child who needs disciplining only because he was smart..he of course was just getting into the petty bickering like kids do, and they went and beat up her boy.
Both the aide and I actually made it quite clear to the administration that child who needs disciplining was instigating the physical aspect of the fights too…he would wait until his victims were so upset they couldn’t see straight and would do something small (a poke or flinging a bit of paper or something virtually unnoticed) to escalate things into a physical fight…
Then his victim would explode, the teacher would break it up, and it would appear child who needs disciplining was an innocent bystander who was being picked on.
The administration did very little at this point.
(child who needs disciplining’s motivation seemed to be getting other boys in trouble. I never truly understood why. Perhaps to be the teachers pet, perhaps because of some racism taught at home, perhaps he just picked his targets as kids he didn’t like and wanted them punished [the other kids were punished…often].)
A few days later (when I had a different aide) child who needs disciplining, after having me usher him back to his seat (away from these boys) repeatedly, refused to return to his seat (after figuring out the game I was dealing w/ it the best I could) and tried to reach around me to strike the other boy. . I maneuvered myself between 2 very angry boys and ordered them both to sit down. The other boy, purple w/ rage bit his lips, clenched fists, and stiffly sat down… and child who needs disciplining, at that instant, threw himself at the boy and hit me…
Suddenly the administration HAD to deal w/ child who needs disciplining, because not only were there witnesses he was attacking another student who was sitting quietly, he had left a heck of a bruise on me.
Of course, that was only 2 days before my assignment at that school ended…so for all I know, the administration did nothing; at the very least, the aides and other teachers now understood what was happening and knew the game child who needs disciplining was playing—before this he had played the martyr card (“they pick on me because I’m smart and I’m good”), maybe this incident helped tarnish his halo a little.
At least I hope so--because I don’t know where he is, but he’s now probably in someone’s high-school. Or maybe even college by now.