Update on the student whose horrifying backstory I discovered.
I’ve been observing the child and I’m guessing they have seen much violence during their young life. The child knows who in class can be pushed to the point of hitting back and the child knows how to get the teacher to give physical discipline for rule breaking. The child tries to provoke people into getting in trouble and then receiving physical discipline from the teacher.
This morning I was alone in the classroom as the usual teacher was returning late from a training. The child’s behavior became worse and worse while I saw what ignoring it did. Finally, it reached the point where the child was going to hurt someone else so I had to intervene. My educational instincts kicked in. Little did the child know that I cannot be provoked into doling out a beating.
I picked the child up and held them like a baby. At first, the child fought me like a cornered honey badger. It started with violent thrashing. Next, I took a vicious pinch (I hate being pinched) and I even had to avoid getting bitten. In the end, my strength and compassion prevailed. Exhausted and defeated, the child finally melted into my arms and body and wept and wept and wept. A peace came over the child like I’ve never seen before. It only lasted twenty minutes or so before the behaviors came back. And I did have to scoop and calm again, but the child now knows violence is not the only way. The child now knows what nurturing feels like too.
As always, when I’m alone in the younger classes, I by and large feel like I have failed. But in a far more important way, I succeeded and I feel pretty damn good about it.