Don’t Blink. It Might be Your Last.

I hate to be a downer but today a student really crossed the line for me. I felt violated and just so disrespected it was like it coated my skin- I still feel the need to take a shower.

I don’t know why but the last 2-3 weeks the students at Excel High where I teach one class, two days a week have been acting like someone put acid mixed with speed in their Wheaties.

Today was the final straw. This whole year I have been used and abuse and I can deal.. I am a tough cookie. However there are lines that once crossed can get a reaction from me many might think is unlikely.

I am all for stopping the violence and abuse but that doesn’t mean I won’t protect myself when I feel threatened or like someone is trying to intimidate me.

Alhumdualillah I didn’t have to lay hands on one of the students but it was a near thing. If he had so much as put a finger on me.. I would have had him on the floor in an arm bar lock.

I don’t do intimidation or threats or verbal provocation – and I won’t have one of my students to that to me and still go back into the classroom the next day or week after. What really made me sick to my stomach about this whole thing is that the student had other students film his attempt to intimidate and provoke me into physical action against him – which Alhumdualillah I resisted.

I didn’t feel unsafe when I was told last week one of my students was most likely carrying a gun part time. But I felt unsafe knowing I have the potential to react and then physically harm one of my students out of fear and the natural instinct to protect myself when I feel threatened.

The fact that my supervisor who is my co teacher in this class wasn’t paying enough attention to the whole class but a select few – and only reacted to get the student away from me after he got in my personal bubble was too little too late.

The past three weeks I have been left alone with the class.. one that views me like a wolf pack would view a omega or beta. Not worthy of respect enough for me to not have to raise my voice in order to get their attention – be ignored while they text on their phones and chat amongst themselves, I have to talk over the class in order to get through a lesson or activity.

The teacher leaving just gives them even more reason to not pay attention and ignore me or just say disrespectful things to me.

I am no bodies fool to be sure.. but my hands have been bound by my supervisor wanting to be super soft and touchy feely with a group of students who don’t know how not to be defensive. They don’t understand and can’t even fathom the idea of soft or gentle because these things get you killed or abused.

They respect power- expressed through money, manipulation,violence and fear. This is the code by which their neighborhoods are run and the school cafeteria and hallways are no different.
The a random drug dealer walking into this classroom has more respect than I get because he has access and use of all four tactics that rule the code. Who ever has the most of these things that make up power and thus status wins in this place.

Not the Ameri Corps volunteer who is following her supervisors lead to be soft and use constructive language in a community in which this is as foreign as the idea of the world not being flat in the 1500’s.

So when a student challenges me to fight them.. and I simply state they are not worth my time or energy to fight.. this is like waving a red flag at a bull. I knew this on some level but I am not a sucker either.. I grew up in the inner city and I still remember the rules to this game.

The first one who blinks- loses. Its a dominance challenge in the simplest of terms.

The question is did I blink?

In not doing what I so badly desired to – which was either put that student in a arm bar or worse.. and I know your thinking.. you of all people.. no way. Yes way.. the rules of the Jungle are clear and I on the deepest most animalistic part of me wanted to come out on top.

But I know I did blink.. why because I had two clear choices – 1. physically check my student or 2. choose the non violent path -2. which prevented myself being caught on tape physically engaged with a student and the higher moral ground and all that B.S like keeping my job.

I choose number 2-and in the cement jungle this is blinking..

The fact that my supervisor didn’t help physically or verbally really protect me until the last few minutes and left me alone with my hands tied by red tape.. made me feel betrayed and that I can’t trust him for anything.

Somethings in life are simple. You need to know even if you don’t like your co worker.. they can have your back. None of my co workers or department head had my back except to agree after this.. I didn’t have to go back to the school. He wasn’t even paying attention enough to notice the student had asked other students to film this on their phones- which they did – until I told him so preoccupied with all the other students he was helping and neither did the actual classroom teacher who wasn’t even there in class when this was going on or paying attention when she was.

While it may sound cynical – this is why you never trust anyone else to do something you can do for yourself. Why you never make yourself vulnerable,truly open because when stuff like this happens… your prepared and can deal. You won’t be cowering in a corner in shock or unable to stop crying – you just assess the situation and move on with the information you learned about yourself and others.

So I won’t be teaching at this school again. And I probably won’t be doing AmeriCorps again given this was way to much trouble for too little pay.

Next up job hunting.


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