Learning to Drive

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 04 2012

In between

Halloween. Sixth period. The two girls had been arguing for weeks now and were regularly distracting Ole Miss’ class with their hollers. On this day though, all it took was a flying piece of paper. One girl gets out of her seat and takes her jacket off. I know what is coming. So I stand in her way.

“Sit down.”

She tries to get around me. I don’t stop staring at her face.

“Sit down.”

She turns and goes around the table to get at her.

“Sit down.”

I calmly follow her and get back in the middle. They back up with me in the middle. I can’t even see the girl behind me, but I just calmly keep telling them to sit down. And I do not get out of their way. My boys are buzzing the office. She grabs the stapler off my desk. I find out later the girl behind me grabbed my coffee mug.

“Sit down.”

She tries to hit her with the stapler, barely missing me. Finally an administrator is in my room, pulling the one behind me away. Getting them out of my classroom.

When they leave my heart won’t stop racing. My kids say, “Ms. Ackley, you were going to get hit.” “Ms. Ackley, it’s not fair because you can’t hit them back.” “Ms. Ackley, you should have just let them fight.” “Ms. Ackley, if one of them had hit you I would beat them up.”

“Not in my classroom. My job is to protect you all, even from each other.”

That was the third start of a fight in my classroom. The third fight that I got in the middle. The first fight that I accepted that I was going to be collateral damage.

But I will always stand in the way. I will always get in the middle to protect them.

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