Everyone has his turn at 15 minutes of fame. Fifteen minutes would have been more than enough for me. But when I awoke in the hospital, my head in a huge metal brace, my neck in pain, it was the beginning of an ordeal that has not yet ended.
I know many teachers who fear for their safety in urban schools. I was never one of them. You see, I’ve never in my life been in a fight. I’ve never hit anyone, and no one’s ever hit me. That doesn’t mean I was afraid to be a physical presence. I’d walked into the middle of many brawls in the halls when I knew one or more of the combatants. I would actually get between the fighters, put my hand on one’s shoulder or arm, and talk like the dickens.
“Come on,” I might say. “You don’t need this.” Or, “Come into my room. Let it go.” Actually, I’m not sure what I said most of the time. But usually, the kid I knew let go. Usually, he followed me, or even allowed me to handle him.
Yes, I handled and shoved kids. I knew I wasn’t supposed to do that and could get into trouble. But I only did it to protect them from each other. And I only did it if it was a boy. I didn’t touch girls. Girl fights are another story.