Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday Florida Female Fist Fight

I know ... Friday should be a food post, but the only food pic I had was a pork loin off the grill ... and well, ... it's been a bit porky here this week at Pure Florida.

So, how about another of our periodic looks inside a school ...

Bus duty is not usually very exciting, even at our school, which seems to be having more than it's usual share of dust ups this year. The bus drivers don't wait long which helps, because the kids know they need to get out there and on that bus pretty quick or they're going to be left behind.

Of the three teachers assigned to manage the 500 or so kids who ride the afternoon buses, I usually get there first due to the proximity of my classroom. Yesterday as I walked out and did my preliminary scan of the loading zone, a shriek sounded from my right.

I turned to see two girls, about 40 feet away, punching each other while a third girl dashed in to punch one of the girls from the side.

I started running to them even as I shouted, "Hey! Cut it out!".

The third girl who was throwing those side punches backed off as I got to the two main fighters who were now locked together, each with fistfuls of the others long hair. To preserve anonymity, let's call them "Cindy" and "Nancy" ... not their real names of course.

Try and picture two girls, facing each other, but bent over facing down due to the fact that each had the other's hair. This made it hard to punch each other, although they kept trying. Their feet were free though and each was kicking and screaming at the other.

They weren't listening to my commands to stop so I got between them and wrapped my right arm around their 4 extended arms and curled it cinching and imobilizing their arms. At least now they couldn't punch anymore.

Plus it was now hard to kick each other while I was standing between them. All the while I am commanding them to stop, to break it up, etc.

Neither one wants to let go of the other's hair however.
By this time, other teachers are coming, but it's another student who works "Nancy" loose while I take "Cindy" by the wrists and walk her quickly away from her opponent. This is like holding on to a gazelle by grabbing it's two front legs.

"Cindy" is wild with rage and the adrenaline of the fight and she's pulling away from me while screaming at the other girl. I don't let go, because she's telling me and showing me that she will head right back into the fight.

This is a kid I teach so I use my calming soft voice while she's tugging and screaming ...
"Cindy, calm down, it's okay, come on, it's Mr. FC, calm down, take a breath ..."

It's almost a chant. I've found over many years of fight breaking that as soon as you get a fighting kid separated and away from the other, you should switch from COMMAND VOICE to soft calming voice. It works most of the time.

In this case, "Cindy" calmed down enough to start listening and I walked her quickly over and on to her bus. The bus had been waiting and with the last kid now aboard, it rolled away.


A few minutes later, I was filling out three discipline forms in triplicate and writing a detailed email account of the event for the dean and the school resource officer (a deputy).

All that action and the resulting paper work did get me out of a boring faculty meeting about the FCAT test.

Every cloud has a silver lining.



threecollie said...

Whoa! Rough duty!

Mark said...

Way to go, FC. I have to admire anyone who teaches. I looked at my high school's Web site last night. These days I identify more with the teachers than the students, although most of the teachers look more like the students I remember than I do. I don't think I could do it.

Anonymous said...

Sounds all too familiar. I am a Social Studies teacher at an Urban Middle School in Tallahassee -well, Tallahassee is a city! ;)
Yesterday was "one of those days" and luckily I didn't have to get involved in any fights, but there were more than a couple! I no longer break up fights, as too many teachers have been getting injured doing so 'round here... if it was a big on little kind of thing, maybe... Definitely tough duty sometimes!

tsiya said...

I'm from the class of '60, looong time ago. Things sure have changed, an actual fight involving female students was almost unheard of back then, in this area, anyway. Fights between male students were settled off campus, one on one, with fists, even had an unwritten set of rules on fair play.
I thought we were supposed to be more civilized now, than we were back then.

Sharon said...

Wow, some of these girls today. Don't even get me started!! LOL, hope you weren't injured. My son called me from work last night (Sonic)to tell me about a huge fight that was going on in the parking lot. Police had to be called, yada yada. Seems to happen more often than when I was a student. Another reason I admire teachers!! :)

roger said...

at least they didn't have weapons. we ask a lot (too much) of teachers. we're lucky you persevere. hard to find the teachable moment in such a situation.

robin andrea said...

When I was in junior high there was a shout to be heard often in the hallways when school let out for the day, "Fight up on the hill." We all had to walk up that hill to get off campus, and sure enough there would be a ring of kids cheering on their favorite bloodied friend. It was brutal. I don't remember teachers ever coming up to stop the fight. I remember always running fast to get away from all of it. I don't know how you do it, but I'm glad you know how to stay calm, and go right between two people who really aim to do damage. You are a good and steady person.

Deb said...

This was one of those times when your law enforcement training came in handy! Glad it got you out of a faculty meeting. :)

kevin said...

Kelly says girl fights are the best, not much talking or posturing. Boys have to tell each other what they're going to do to each other, the girls get right to it.

It's hard not to make some chick-fight jokes.

Hurricane Teen said...

oooh boy. I am familiar with this! For all their redeeming qualities, I find that country girls can really go at it in a fight.
I'm also glad to hear that this got you out of an Fkitty meeting. BOOORING.

Anonymous said...

This was exciting to read. But I was thinking about this, esp after reading Roger and Robin Andrea's comments and remembering the school yard fights of my youth (Like Robin, I avoided those at all costs). Somehow, these fights today seem more alarming and I guess it's because it seems a shorter leap from these to campus gunfire. In all fairness to Cindy, she's probably as unlikely to go there as I was at her age- but violence just seems more deadly today.

Sounds as though your experienced calm was the defining moment in helping to get this under control. Nicely handled, FC.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

You know what they say: Every fight has a silver lining.

Scott aka Florida Native Musings said...

curious to see what it was about, dollar to a doughnut it was about a boy.

yours in the bond

ImagineMel said...

Yeah, I heard it was quite the "attack our teachers week" at the old alma mater. So, how's that PBS workin' for ya?? Is anyone taking notes????? Glad it's the weekend. Enjoy!

Floridacracker said...

Every once in a while it is.

It is a weird job with an odd list of duties.

I understand not wanting to break up fights.
It's a personal decision.
I can't stand by.

It's not progress when a week of fights all involved girls. Five fights I believe ... all girls.
Weird week.

Someone is raising kids with no control, no sense of anger control.
Scary stuff.

i saw "cindy" sitting in the office this morning and she was as sweet as she could be and very apologetic.
too late though, i believe she's being charged officially.

That last line is about as good as a compliment gets.
Thank you.

Yup. Not the first time either.
Won't be the last...

It was a classic hair pulling screaming chick fight ... not to stereotype or anything, but ...

We're both in it, just at opposite ends.

This was a boil over from a long simmering girl feud. Pretty normal conflict issues, she hit my sister, she said this about me ...blah, blah, punch.

This one did.

No, just pure animosity.

Floridacracker said...

I would not raise a DOG by PBS methods.
It's ridiculous fluff.

Laura said...

I am so glad my girls have finished middle school at long last.

Just seems to me there is far too much drama in the middle schools these days.

'course, it's there in the high school also, but it just seemed to be more prevalent at the middle school level. Your method is excellent! Anger would have just ignited another little fire within them and spurred them on.
Be safe out there!!

Floridacracker said...

Middle definitely has more drama. We are both middle and high combined and so was this fight!
It was a weirdly combative week and all girls.

cinbad122 said...

You were just waiting for me to see this post, weren't you!!! I never laughed so hard at your blog before! I think she will appreciate it as well.

Floridacracker said...

Why,... whatever do you mean?