“Fucking cut it out,” Michael bellowed yanking Marc’s hand off Jack’s shirt with a tearing sound. Marc still clutched a scrap of material in his grasp and Jack backed against the wall gasping.
“Like your shit doesn’t stink.” Jason reached across the group, giving Marc a shove.
Marc turned his attention to Jason. “Listen, you whiny bastard.”
“Alright everyone, let’s calm down.” Maureen stepped into the middle of the group. Another thing different about recess. Those combatants couldn’t keep arguing over her head.
Many moons ago, when I was student teaching in an eleventh grade, low functioning class, two of my students got into a fight. Instinctively, I knew the best way to defuse the situation was to step between them. Then I realized that with one at five foot nine and the other approaching six feet, they could not only continue the argument over my head, they could outreach me leaving me in serious danger. There was a split second there while this sunk in that lasted about twelve years. I can vividly remember the shorter boy’s throat and the taller boy’s black t-shirt because that’s where my eye level was.
Then a miracle happened. The 22-year-old ex-con, who had been arrested before he graduated and was therefore allowed to finish after his release, grabbed the taller boy and dragged him into the hall for a stern talking to. I don’t know what he said, but neither of those boys was ever a problem for me again. And the ex-con? One of the best students I have ever had.
And people wonder why I don’t teach high school.