My first contact

My first contact with a student yesterday was when a kid leapt up on me in the hallway outside the science lab, while I was on my way to the class where I had him as a student.

I reacted poorly.  And it made me edgy and angry all day. Just as any physical challenge from a student makes me edgy and angry.

I’ll admit that I took it out on the kids on my dorm rather more than they needed it.  But why, oh why, am I so attackable?  And how do I get it to stop? Please?

6 comments

  1. I am not sure there is enough information here. Did he attack you or was he just horse playing on the aggressive side?
    As far as your reaction it is 100% normal after a confrontation. As a former State Trooper and now a teacher in a urban school district I can tell you that is a normal reaction to have. After I break up a fight or have some sort of altercation with a student it seems that is all I focus on for a large part of the day.
    As far as getting kids to stop doing this to you is really up to you. I have my former profession to rely on and the kids have knowledege of it. If it is a real problem then I would take a more avoidance approach because in reality that maybe all that you can do to match the unpredictability of the young

    • It’s a good question — was he horse-playing or was it aggression. I think it’s the latter, but with this student it’s hard to know for sure. I do know that I’ve not felt as ‘under attack’ from students in the last few years as I have in the last month.

      I’ll consider some more avoidance strategies.

  2. Maybe time to study a little Aikido (the “way of harmony”), instead of just fencing. First lesson: learn how to use the momentum of your fall to protect yourself & set you centered & smiling on your feet again. Second: blend with the movement of your attacker, turning to regard the situation from his point of view…

    How would your student answer the question in your post? And how would you like him to direct that energy instead?

    • Excellent questions. I don’t have answers. I do have enough t’ai chi in me that I can certainly move with my attacker’s momentum, and I rarely fall when attacked; my balance is too good for that.

      • I hope the same is true of your mental/emotional balance; Michael’s comment above is spot on — these things can get under your skin. Part of the insight of Aikido is that avoiding attacks while remaining visibly centered & in control / at peace goes a long way toward resolving confrontations.

        I spent a lot of years in a tough school in Chicago, and never felt in physical danger. But at one point, a particular set of students decided they’d give me a hard time for their own reasons (rather than anything I’d personally done with them in class), and it took me a while to see it, even when other students tried to explain. It came out of the blue, as far as I could tell, and was not how students had treated me before, which made it particularly hard to deal with. Don’t think I ever did get my balance back on that one…

        • Andrew,

          I agree with both you and Michael. When a student comes at you, it really affects how your whole day or week goes… I watched a student go after a colleague of mine energetically, with his chi burning a hole in his pocket, on Thursday during our winter carnival; when the same student came after me later in the day, I pushed back pretty hard, and wound up upsetting us both.

          Partly it’s the time of year, and the environment; partly it’s the type of kids we have here. But a lot of it is me, and it’s clearly something I have to work on.

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