I was reading words to the students in pronunciation class today. They were responding to the words in unison and we were having a nice class. During the chanting, a boy said something slightly louder than the others, but I didn't hear what he said exactly. Then a girl in the back of the room stood up and started yelling at him. The boy stood up and started yelling back at the girl. For a moment I was shocked. I felt the tension build as the students in the room turned to see what, exactly, was taking place. The atmosphere changed even more when the girl threw her pen at the boy, and he left his desk and began trying to attack her.
Other students were trying to hold them apart when I arrived at the back of the room and pulled the boy away from the girl by the back of his jacket, sitting him down on a bench before turning to see what was happening with the girl. She was fighting to break free so she could hit the boy, and he began to yell at her more. I turned to where he was sitting and yelled, "SHUT UP" in his face. He was quiet and I turned back, grabbed the girl, and began to drag her out of the room, yelling "shut up, come with me," as I forced her to leave. I heard another student say to her in Chinese, "Go with Dustin, go with Dustin." I think it would have been easier if she would have listened to the student, but she tried to fight it. She had no choice about leaving, but she dragged her feet and continued to shout.
By the time the girl was in the hallway, another teacher was waiting outside. He asked me what was happening and I quickly informed him. Upset by the student behavior, he apologized and then proceeded to get more information from the girl. Both the boy and the girl went into the hall with the other teacher while I talked to the class.
"I am very angry," I said to them. "I'm not angry with you, but the two students who were involved in this fight." They looked down at their desks, ashamed at the behavior of their classmates. I felt bad expressing my feelings with them when they did nothing but try and stop the fight. They needed to know that I was very angry with those students, however.
After class I talked with the students who were fighting. "Fighting is unacceptable in my class. You disrespected me, yourselves and your classmates. I am very angry." Not knowing what else to say, I went to the Department office to report the incident.
My Chinese tutor, Jane, listened while I told the story. I explained that there should be some kind of consequence for the students, but I didn't know what to do next. "Yes, that boy has some mental problems," she said. "I will ask the class what happened and let you know what to do."
And now I'm waiting for the next step.
In reflecting on the incident there is not much I would have done differently. I still don't know exactly what people said or why. The context of this fight remains unclear. Whether or not this incident has changed student opinion about me, I do not know. An update is forthcoming.