Teachers have it tough.
They are under appreciated, underpaid, and under utilized. And they work so hard to make sure kids learn--but sometimes they have to go above and beyond their jobs to ensure the safety of their students.
u/GalagaMarine asked Reddit: Teachers of Reddit, what's the worst fight you had to break up?
Here were the stories they came out with.
The worst fight I broke up wasn't because of students getting hurt, but because of how lame it was. First off, I teach middle school which is just one awkward moment after another. These two kids were arguing over a pencil because one kid supposedly broke the other kid's pencil. They were bickering back and forth like two old men and then they just broke out in really mediocre wrestling. It was embarrassing to watch because neither boy could even wrestle and I was able to just tell them to stop and send them to the office with no other issues. Another reason it was the lamest fight ever was because all the other students who were working at other tables went about their work and talking to each other and didn't even notice. Usually they would be chanting "Fight! Fight!" over and over and crowding around trying to film for World Star.
Pre-Grad For Post-Grads
I taught adults at a vocational school, mostly from rough neighborhoods. We had been warned to never try to break up a fight, as many of these students carried knives and so forth.
Some woman had a bad falling out with her group of friends, and was sitting separated from them. They were talking back-and-forth, very loudly, very aggressively across the room. I couldn't control them, and went to get a supervisor. With me and the supervisor guy there, one of the girls from the group came across the room at the odd one out. She is big, 6' and 250 lbs, and charges across the room at the odd one out, who is maybe 5' 2". Supervisor gets in between them. They fight around him for a second, then smaller woman slashes the face of bigger woman with a razor or something. That pretty much ended it, other than a few thrown things and tussle, but a lot of hair and braids were ripped out and there was blood everywhere. Supervisor was lucky. They literally fought around him, and the smaller one whipped that blade over his right shoulder to slash the other ones face. This was on a Tuesday, and they were to effectively graduate on Thursday. Insane.
Don't Out Other Kids
I am an English teacher in France. This happened in the classroom next door to mine and I just witnessed the aftermath and heard the gossip from my friend who did break it up and was there to hear the story when they got hauled into the admins office.
One of my male students was named Timothée, who was dating a girl named Ana a year under him. One day last year he apparently left his phone unattended and unlocked and she picked it up and started searching through it.
What Ana found was his very male 'best friend' Louis sexting and sending him nudes and talking about how much he loved him and Tim was texting back and being equally enthusiastic about the two of them being together out in the open once they finished school and were in university.
She proceeded to screenshot and send all those texts, sexts and nudes to her boyfriend's parents, before replacing his phone so he wouldn't know. Tim's parents are very conservative (and when I say very, I mean VERY. His mother once called me to complain about his grade in English and it evolved into a rant about foreign students that would make Marine Le Pen proud) and Ana knew so that's why she went this revenge route. This kid went home to be blindsided thanks to her, and apparently he had to basically flee the house because he was afraid of his father.
Louis turned up to school the next day, calmly entered Ana's first period class and went nuts. I just heard him screaming after he had been restrained which is when I went to go check. Louis was borderline hysterical and screaming about her being a b**** who ruined Tim's life. It was bad.
That being said, the worst fight I saw was in a science lab. I was in the back of the lab installing some software to go with a digital microscope and a large 8th grade girl was singing disrespectfully while the teacher was talking. Tiny 8th grade girl behind her was getting PISSED and telling her to shut up because she couldn't hear what the teacher was saying. Big girl continued to sing. Tiny girl says for the last time "shut the f-ck up I'm trying to learn!" Then proceeds to leap over the lab table between them, grabs the big girls hair. They had to get a very large male administrator in there to pull her off. The teacher got elbowed in the face when she tried to step in, said screw it and ran out into the hall to get an admin.
My uncle was a teacher for many years and was once stabbed by a student with a fork while breaking up a fight in the cafeteria.
My dad is a 5'6" Hispanic dude, gentlest person you can imagine. His first teaching job was at a rough high school. Two guys (both much bigger than him) got into it but security was nowhere to be found so he tackled them both in a bear hug so all they could do was stare at each other in rage while my dad waited for reinforcements
Reclaiming My Time
Substitute Teacher here: I was randomly assigned for the very last period of the day to a... difficult class. All of these kids were enormous. Like, maybe they were football kids? All I know is my petite self wasn't even shoulder level with these kids.
So in a classroom full of enormous dudes, A few in the back kept picking on one kid in the front.
The (seriously huge) kid stood up and charged at the (super big) kids in the back, who all stood up, ready to fight.
My (super lame) reaction was to slam my tiny hands on the desk and yell, "EXCUSE ME!!! BACK in your seats please."
They all just sort of stopped and looked confused, and then sat back down. No fight. No problem. Nobody was more surprised than me.
I ended up leaving them some good notes for their teacher because honestly, any enormous guys who stop their big fight just because some tiny lady in a cardigan asks them to sit down -well, they can't be all bad.
I had a student who fought a few times in my class, and was one of those "blind rage" type fighters who would just swing at anyone until he got back under control. He was manageable in my class but he was sent to homeschooling after a fight he got into in the hallways. Something stupid set him off, and he punched the other kid a few times before being restrained by one of the security guards...who he also punched in the face.
During the same fight, a teacher was trying to separate the two students, and he (accidentally, but still) broke two of her fingers. It dawned on me that day why they tell us to not get between students fighting. She was lucky that 1: she wasn't hurt worse, and 2: that she wasn't written up on disciplinary charges for breaking that rule.
I've only broken up a few fights, and they were pretty mundane but if there is one thing I know is that girls fights are worse than boys. Girls will go for your eyes, but boys typically stick to an honor code, no hits below the belt and all that.
I used to teach high school in rural Georgia. I had to break up a fight between two girls and a heavily pregnant girl. I never taught these girls and it happened between classes in the hallway in front of my room. The pregnant girl was on the floor screaming. I grabbed each of them by their upper arms and hauled them away very hard. One fell back on her a** and the other nearly fell. The one on her a** started crying about how I'd hurt her. The other girl acted like she was going to rush me or the pregnant girl. I grabbed her, held her back, and told her that if she tried it again I'd make her wish she hadn't. She tried to hit me, and i twisted her arm until she was on the floor kneeling. Meanwhile, one of the other teachers helped the pregnant girl and another called the nurse/principal. I was the only one to act for a good 30-40 seconds.
The Hairy Doctor
I had two girls fighting in my classroom, it turned into a hair pulling contest and my skeleton; Dr.Cal C. Ian (life drawing class) wore one of their weaves for the rest of the school year.
My mom had two seventh graders using chair legs to fence each other.
The Riot Act
In my low-income urban public school we had an actual riot, with students punching police officers, tripping the fire alarm, damaging property, and screaming obscenities. School was canceled for two days as teachers reviewed security footage and suspended kids. Of course, it was a doozy to break up. A lot of dissatisfied kids in the cities.
Actual Teacher here. It was after school and i was headed to the copy room. On the way is the cafeteria, which had been cleared of all the tables and was basically just one big empty area --- except for the huge mass of students that had developed.
I rushed into the massive crowd where two different circles had formed. It was literally like being at a metal concert with two mosh pits. At least 16 kids were fighting. When i broke through, one kid fell in front if me and the guy who pushed him ran up and did a Janikowski kick to his head.
All metal moshing instincts kicked in where my main goal was to basically push away as many people as possible and keep them away from each other until more AP's/officers could arrive to help.
It was chaos, so i don't remember much after that. To this day i don't even know why they were fighting. Once everything was settled, i picked my paper back up and went back to making copies.
Brawls In The Halls
I taught for two years in a very rough boys school where I had to break up fights almost daily. I'll share three stories.
The first fight was when two students started fighting because of ... well I can't quite remember to be honest. It probably started as an argument over which one's mother is a bigger w****. The fighters were grade 9 aged. It took 4 staff members to break the two apart, and even more to keep them separated after the initial blows. At the height of the chaos, both were throwing chairs, tables, and whatever else they could get their hands on. The end result was damaged windows, broken doors, and quite a few staff members that had cuts/scrapes/bruises from trying to keep the two away from each other. I'm pretty sure they met up outside school to settle their differences later that week.
The second story is a bit more lighthearted. In my first few months of teaching at the school, I rewarded a group for good behaviour by taking them to play soccer on their small hardcourt area. When I say good behaviour, I mean they hadn't assaulted or verbally abused each other in my class all week. Even though I was still new, I felt like I could trust them since they had been relatively well-behaved, and they were a small group. In the middle of the game, which was going great by the way, two players from opposite teams had a moment of frustration and started swinging haymakers. They both got a few good shots in, and by the time I was able to get in between them the fight was over. We took a 5 minute break, they shook hands and we continued the game. I didn't write them up for that one.
The last story is one of the few times where I legitimately thought I would have to defend myself. I was on duty at the hardcourt during break, and I challenged a student on his behaviour. He had been picking on a younger student, and all I had asked for him to do was stop. When he kept doing it, I approached and told him that he had to leave the hardcourt area. Once I was within 5 metres or so, he turned on me. He started telling me to f*** off, and cursing at me with every word in his vocabulary. Everything seemed to slow down at this point as he started to walk towards me, with what I could feel was an intent to hurt. At the same time though, I could sense the other students watching, and starting to move closer towards us. I began stepping back while talking to him, trying to deescalate the situation, and I even outstretched my arm towards him to try to keep space between us. Before the student was able to fully reach me, he was turned and escorted away by 3 other students. As s*** of a situation as that was, to me that incident had a silver lining. Even though at times I'm sure they all had their differences with me, that day I felt lucky to have those boys as my students. I'm not sure what would've happened if they hadn't stepped in, but I do know it would not have been a positive outcome.
Where Are The Teachers?!
I'm not a teacher. But my highschool put a jukebox in our cafeteria one year and for a dollar you could play three songs. So these 3 girls put in like, 5 bucks and played 50 Cents' 'In Da Club' on repeat.
After the 4th or so repeat of the same song, some girl had had enough and went to unplug the jukebox. The three girls literally jumped her right there, punches and hair flying everywhere. I'll give the the one girl credit, she was holding her own against the 3 of them. This is all going on and that f-cking song was still playing, everybody's watching them. After about a minute in, some guy strolls over all casual like and unplugs the jukebox. They stopped fighting after that and that song was never played again. The end.
7th Grade Is Hard
My first year teaching, I had to break up a bunch of typical middle school fights- hair pulling, fighting over boys, weak punches when boys were involved (7th grade). We had a bit of a gang problem, so it was fairly common. Two still really stand out to me though.
The first involved two girls fighting over a boy who had been sent to juvy. I walked out of a classroom where I was observing, and one was already being held back by our seven foot tall social studies teacher. The other girl was ripping fistfuls of the other girl's hair out and screaming 'HE'S MY MAN. GET THE F-CK OUTTA MY HALL' ( other girl who had her hair ripped out was an eighth grader, and eighth graders were supposed to stay out of the seventh grade hall). The screaming one was a student of mine so I just walked in, asked her calmly to let go or be picked up, and picked her up to take her to the office while she screamed and clawed at me. At one point, she promised to calm down, and I fell for it. She immediately ran back and began fighting again, so I had to carry her to the office. Later, they asked if I wanted to press charges for the kicking and scratching. I literally laughed in the deputy's face. How vindictive are people that they have to ask if you want to ruin a 12 year old's life?
There was one even worse than that, though. I had one student who was a gang leader in my class, but he was always respectful with me and worked hard in class, so I just sort of chalked it up to rumors. One day near the end of the year, I turned around to write something on the board, and heard a girl scream. I turn around and the quiet respectful kid had ripped one of my loudmouths out of his seat and was kicking him with precision directly in the kidneys while bellowing. I was horrified. This kid was a weight lifter, and prying him off of the other kid who was curled up in the fetal position was nearly impossible. Once I did get him off, I screamed at the other kid to get the next door teacher. The kid from the gang escaped and chased the other kid around the school, throwing furniture at the instigator and screaming. It took me five minutes of chasing them through the halls while the other teacher watched my classroom to get admin or the deputy to help.
It was then that I decided not to teach middle school anymore.
I teach high school now and see my old seventh graders a lot, including fighters. One even apologized to me; most of them want me to teach them when they reach the grade I teach. I just really hope they have chilled out with time...
Young, female high school teacher here.
Worst fight I refused to step in and break up: the two largest, toughest guys in our school got into it in the hallway right in front of my classroom. These were the kind of boys that were already pretty much grown men and each had around 100lbs of muscle on me. I heard yelling in the hallway and turned around just in time to witness one punch the other square in the teeth. He hit him so hard that I swear I could feel the vibrations in the air. Like, I FELT THE PUNCH it was so hard. And oh my god, the sound of it. They then started punching at each other as they rolled around the ground in a HUGE pile of blood that had come from the one's mouth after the first punch. I would have gotten hurt breaking it up. I internally said "f-ck that" and called the office to tell them to send out police resource officer and admins down there ASAP to break up the fight of the decade.