Life after a hallway fight

Posted on 11.08.2012


A fight broke out between two girls right outside my first period’s classroom door.  I broke it up.  There are so many things that stand out about my day today:

  • Keeping everyone safe – the students in the room, the students in the hall, the girls fighting, my student teacher.
  • Stopping the fight and not getting hurt (no other adults were around for a good little bit).
  • Breaking up the large amounts of students in the halls all with phones out and getting them back to where they belong.
  • Coming back into my classroom and interacting with students.
  • Having the rest of the day ahead of me and knowing that the fight and 1st period will follow me the rest of the day while I will go into other classrooms and interact with faculty and students who didn’t have this experience.
  • Not taking time to eat a real meal.
  • It was a VERY long day.

Fights are not common, but they aren’t unusual at my school either.  That doesn’t mean they are traumatizing to the community and to learning.

I was astonished by how little students and staff wanted to recognize that the fight occurred   It was like we all wanted to talk about how exciting it was, but then sweep the emotional stress underneath a rug.  Hide it away.  No one wanted to talk about why it happened, what it felt like, what it meant, or that it might have been upsetting.  No one followed up with me, no one followed up with students.  All adults just tried to ‘clear the halls’ so that ‘normal’ could return.  That school could resume.

But lets not do that anymore.  Lets admit that something really awful had just happened and that we all need each other to make sense of it.

Lets stop class and talk about what had just happened, and what might happen again and what we might do to change our behavior (if we actually do want something to change).  In my classes today we had an incredible conversation about cultural relativism (among other things).  Students spoke beautifully about struggling between different cultural norms and about which aspects of their different worlds they take with them.  They struggled to articulate what was normal and what felt wrong about the violence that just occurred.   We shared how it felt and helped each other understand what it all meant.  It wasn’t a perfect conversation, but it was darned meaningful.  It helped me for sure.

Here’s the thing: if we don’t adress that the fight happened as a community then why wouldn’t it happen again?

Here’s another thing: the lesson I had planned still got done and I can’t wait to be with my students tomorrow to continue to build upon what we did today.

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