Friday afternoon I was teaching my bottom set year 8’s multiplying and dividing fractions. It was just after lunch and I was in the middle of singing a dividing fractions song when the door swung open.
“Miss! you need to calm me down!!” My year 10 student shouts.
“I’m teaching now so & so, please see me after school”.
He ignored my instruction and continued;
“I’m gonna punch Ms. Deputy head teacher” he shouted.
The year 8s stared at him as he stood at the door.
“Oookaaaay, take a seat by my desk”.
I realised this boy had a lesson to get to, but I couldn’t risk letting him go whilst he was so angry and made such a claim. I gave him a pile of my papers to sort out to keep him occupied and calm him down without giving him too much attention.
“Please sort these out for me in alphabetical order” I asked.
He did so. 15 mins later, when he seemed a little more level headed, the lesson ended. I dismissed my year 8’s, each one staring at him as they walked out. After the last child left, I jammed the door stopper beneath the door and sarcastically asked him if he was comfortable enough in my swivel chair.
“Yeah sorry Miss, come sit on your seat”.
“It’s ok, stay seated. What’s got you angry?” I ask.
I’m concerned because he’s an amateur boxer and has been trained to control his anger, so wondered what got him so worked up. Other than the fact that he wanted to punch the deputy head teacher! Let’s call her Ms. Stevens for the obvious reason of not identifying her name.
“I’m gonna punch Ms. Stevens!”
“Yeah you already said that. Why would you want to do that?” I ask.
“She accused me of bunking when I already told her I was just getting my pencil case that I forgot in my previous class”.
“Ok, so? You explain yourself calmly and move on” I said.
“Yeah but she accused me of being a liar and said I was a bad example blah blah blah! So when she called me a liar, I was angry so I walked off because I knew I’d say something I’d regret”.
“That probably made it worse” I told him.
“Yeah I know, but she started acting up and showing off just because the head teacher was there!”.
He became angry as he narrated the story. He claimed he’d punch her if he saw her now. So I asked him what boxing taught him about controlling his anger.
“I’m not allowed to fight my opponent if I’m angry otherwise I’d lose. So I always fight level headed. It’s a lot about mental strength and control”.
“So can you not apply that to this situation?” I asked.
“But she’s a lying prick, Miss!”.
I tried not to laugh. So I gave him a scenario.
“Ok, lets think about it this way. Let’s say your anger got the better of you and you punched her. What happens next?”.
“I’ll feel better” he stated.
“Correct, you may feel better for a few seconds because you’ve released your frustration. But you do realise, that one punch could ruin your life? Ms. Stevens will get 3 months off work. All paid! Yes she’ll have a bruise for a week or so, but that’ll fade. She’ll buy herself an expensive pair of aviator sun glasses and book a holiday during term time because she’s got time off – thanks to you. Then she’ll come back to work and request a lighter work schedule because she can’t face dealing with ‘unruly teenagers’, so she’ll work from her desk. Checking Facebook, online shopping and emailing family members about how great work is. You on the other hand, will be escorted to the head teachers office whilst you wait for your parents to come and collect you before again being escorted out of the building that you’ll step foot in for the last time. In a day or so, you’ll receive a letter from the school confirming the worse – what your parents feared most – expulsion. Due to “teacher and students safety being of paramount importance”. Now you’ve got “aggressive troubled teenager” by your name, which will probably stick for quite some time. Your parents and family situation may be looked into, to see “where this anger stems from”. Then you’ll be told that you can still sit you exams, but you’re required to attend a centre for others in the same situation as you. This will have a bad impact on you as any further education institute you decide to go on to will know your educational past. The odds are against you already, and you’re only 15. Most likely. Your coach will also be disappointed in you and will think you are a liability because you are using your strength and boxing skills in situations you should not. You may be disciplined there also!”.
He drops his face in deep contemplation.
“How do you feel about that situation?” I ask.
He doesn’t utter a word.
Then all of a sudden, he gets up and says,
“Miss….you’re calm” as he walks out.
“Wait, where are you going? Are we done?”
“yeah Miss, thanks. I’m alright now. I’m going to apologise to Ms. Stevens whilst biting my tongue, ’cause I ain’t gonna let her get the better of me!”.
“Are you ok now?” I ask.
“Yeah miss, thanks man. You’re calm”.