It's hard to believe that in twenty-three years of teaching I have never had a physical fight break out in the classroom, but that's true. I've heard of a few happening at lunch or in the parking lot, but I've never even seen one from a distance.
Well, I got shaken out of my ivory tower today, for sure. The shock came out of the blue at the end of my first period class.
I was writing the homework assignment on the board, and everyone was really quiet for a change. A boy called my name and said that another boy had knocked his pencil case on the floor. I gave them a "you're not second graders" look and returned to writing the assignment.
Before I knew it, the first boy jumped up and started attacking the pencil case defiler. These are 13 and 14-year-old boys so it was pretty violent. They threw or knocked three chairs and desks over onto the floor, and they were landing their punches.
I screamed for someone to go get help since I could not get them to stop by yelling, and I then tried to minimize the damage they were doing to each other's bodies. I tried several times to grab both of their slugging arms, but they got away so, without thinking, I put myself in between them just in time to get punched in the left cheek.
Fortunately, the principal arrived at precisely that moment and removed the two boys. My left cheek is tender to the touch, but I can still smile.