Apparently it was quite the feat that I managed to leave my job "unscathed" today. See below story.
DCPS's security company walked out over night after not having been paid consistently by the district. I entered the building to no security. Nobody was manning the metal detectors and nobody was monitoring the hallways. I initially thought school would be shut down, but it wasn't. We were told that we were on our own. The way they made it sound, you would think it was analogous to climbing Mount Everest without a Sherpa. But in practically every other district in the country, schools do not decide to function based on how much security they have. So I didn't think it would be all that bad. I was kind of wrong. There was internal gossip of schools with tougher environments experiencing fights during and between practically every period. Even my school had significantly worse behavior. I would guess we normally have 20-30 security guards working at our school every day (although I could be off on that - I know I've seen at least ten different guards, and I only see the ones that operate in my little corner of the building, so I assume there are quite a few more), and you could tell that they weren't there.
The most incredible thing I saw today was a fight between a substitute and a student. I was in my room during my planning period and I heard shouting in the hallway. I went out there to find a substitute chest to chest with a student going around in circles. They were doing the male fighting ritual - similar to a mating ritual, only for fighting. Each was screaming at the other, "Back off me." The substitute had taken his glasses off and was apparently ready to go. Each of them needed a reason for the situation to end. So I ran over and stepped between them and escorted the student downstairs. As I was walking the student downstairs, the substitute was yelling at him. Although I'll sensor his exact comments, the intent was essentially to say, "Yea, that's what I thought!" I told the administration, and the cops went to talk to the substitute, but he remained in the classroom for the rest of the day teaching. They didn't really have anyone to take his place.
The next incredible thing that happened was a fight that broke out in my AP class of six students. It was a girl fight - screaming and yelling, but no physical contact. Thank god it happened at the end since I wouldn't have been able to call security to escort them out. It was about the dumbest thing I've ever seen. Two of my girls just started screaming at each other. One is pretty ditzy and gets a lot of male attention, and the other is pretty smart (but she's definitely socially awkward) and probably doesn't have too many friends. Apparently this was just waiting to happen, even though they never even knew each other prior to the class. I did a horrible job of handling it and the socially awkward girl ended by saying she would just drop the class, which I guess might be best since she never does her work anyway.
It really is just sad to realize that so many security officers are so integral to the day-to-day operations of our schools. The kids don't feel like they have to behave without them, like the teachers are just people to be played with while they try to teach a few kids some stuff. Everybody deserves a better environment to learn in, and I'm truly impressed that any kids rise above this mess at all.
A student of mine told me yesterday that she transferred to my school because at the last high school in DC she went to, she was always afraid. She could never go to the bathroom because all the girls would smoke weed in there, and if they came in while she was in the stall, they would beat her up when she tried to leave. So she would wait in the stall until they left so she could go to class or go home, which sometimes would be two or three hours. She's determined to rise above it all though. She does her homework every day and listens very carefully to everything I say. She doesn't have any parents, but she does have direction.
It's truly amazing how you often discover the true power and light of the human spirit in the most abysmal environments. Here's to everyone who worked their ass off to overcome.