It all sounds so cliché, but when I think about the last seven years of teaching, I can count maybe three incidences that have effected me as profoundly. Over the last seven years, I've come into contact with about seven hundred students, so I am bothered when the implication seems to be that I'm not providing a safe environment for my students.
One of the rules in my class is that if you want to get out of your seat, you need to raise your hand and ask first. Yesterday, the student I referred to earlier, got out of her seat twice to talk to another student. Both times I told her to return to her seat and reminded her that she needed to ask first before getting out of her seat.
The second time she sat down, she told me she wasn't going to ask for permission because I wasn't her mom. I replied that there were rules that she needed to follow in my classroom and that was one of them. I told her that I had now given her a warning and that if she got up again, she would be serving detention on Monday. Right after that, she got up again. So, I told her that I would see her at lunch. Her retort back to me was "I'm not serving no fucking detention." At that point, I moved over to her desk and told her to step outside. When she chose to use language that was clearly inappropriate, she crossed the line.
As she got up, she shoved all of her stuff onto the floor. I told her to pick up her belongings. She said back to me, "you fucking pick 'em up." So, I told her that if she didn't pick them up that I would put them into the garbage. (It was her pencil case and her agenda.) She turned back around and told me she wasn't going to pick them up (using more language that was not appropriate) and that if I touched her stuff, she would "kick my fucking ass." I called our office at this point to send down our Campus Supervisors.
When she again refused, I will admit that I picked up her stuff and put them into one of my garbage cans. I have three garbage cans in my room and that one had nothing in it. In retrospect, I know that I should not have done that last part and when she comes back from her suspension, I will apologize for that.
At no point during this whole, ugly scene did I ever yell, scream or call her any ugly names. I told her that she was acting inappropriately and because she not only used language that was inappropriate, but she also threatened me. As soon as Campus Supervisors arrived, I got her pencil case and agenda out of the garbage. This incident took up about 15 minutes of my classroom time and furthermore once the kids saw all of this, they sure as heck weren't ready to settle back down into learning about longitude!
I have had other times in which I have had to ask students to step outside to take a breather. I've taught students (male and female) who were heavily involved in gangs. My school is predominately African American and Hispanic. I've taught African American boys who towered over me. I have had students who have come into the classroom highly agitated that I've been able to talk to, get them to relax and come down from wanting to beat up anyone who looked at them.
None of these students have ever used the kind of language that this girl chose to use or threaten me in this way. In my seven years, it has been African American girls who have not only threatened me with violence, but also think nothing of calling me a fucking bitch without so much as blinking an eye.
I may get slammed for this post and my previous post. I think that we are too afraid to talk about race in any way, shape or form. I'm asking for perspectives on this because I am not an African American female and so I'm putting myself out there at the risk of someone thinking I'm a racist. I didn't go into teaching to write referrals or to fail kids, either academically or personally. I don't have the expectation that every student is going to like me. I have had the pleasure of teaching many African American girls who I have never had any issues with whatsoever.