{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "I have a student in my classroom who has a history of violence. I’m honestly scared of him. Anyone else have this issue? What did you do?", "post_id": "5d51e546da1c3b001a60d530", "reply_count": 11, "vote_count": 2, "bowl_id": "5c751b9f2f6b98001bc666f8", "bowl_name": "Teachers" }

I have a student in my classroom who has a history of violence. I’m honestly scared of him. Anyone else have this issue? What did you do?

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I’ll be interested to see the replies here. I’m with much younger children but the incidences of extreme anger and even physical violence from these very young children is majorly on the rise over the past few years. Some things people don’t or can’t believe unless they see it for themselves. I can’t say I’ve personally directly experienced fear because of any of this but more so fear the children may hurt themselves or other students. Or break dangerous property such as glass windows or metal chairs. Restorative practices, conscious discipline to fidelity, being present in (even the painful or scary) moments, building relationships, establishing strong and appropriate boundaries...these are all things I “know” to do and do try to do but the problems are beyond what one teacher in one classroom can tackle on her own. Since you teach HS, other teachers have this student as well, right? Does he have a good or even reasonable relationship with anyone? Maybe you can come up with a game plan together?

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Coming from an alternative high school as a student teacher in art, I have faced similar situations. While everyone is different, for me, it was establishing my classroom as a safe, calm space where self expression is welcome and students feel heard. On the other hand, being confident in your classroom expectations of behavior is just as vital. In order to be invited into your room, students must meet a standard of respect, if not, they are not invited in- end of story. (That is where a restorative convo would take place) I had students coming into my room straight from juvenile detention, as well as known gang affiliates; so hearing about certain reputations was a very intimidating experience. But the key is not to let that reputation intimidate you (they can see our hesitation, and it empowers further negative behavior). Be confident in the ownership of your class space. My experience tells me that if you stick to your standards while allowing students to feel heard, they will be cooperative.

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I’ve had that before. Honestly, you can’t let that child know you are afraid him or he will use that to terrorize you all year. My best advice is to set firm expectations for your whole class, and be fair and consistent with everybody in your punishment and reward systems. We sometimes have a tendency to be harsher on the ones we are afraid of, which causes them to act worse. You don’t want him to think you are singling him out. But don’t be afraid to enforce rules when necessary. And ask campus security to stay nearby for the first few weeks until you are confident it will go well

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Don’t treat him based on his history. Give him the opportunity to show you something different. Once you show him respect as any other student you may never see the volatile side of him.

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Build a relationship with him! The sooner you can identify what makes him become violent, the sooner you can work to minimize those situations in your classroom

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Get to know the child on a personal level. Likes, dislikes, sports, etc. If the child has an episode, remain calm and don’t escalate the situation. “I care about you. What can I do to help?” Encourage the child to take a calming moment to reset. Limit the verbal exchange. I am NVCPI trained. You should be too if you aren’t already

If you notice their temper escalating, ask them if they need to step out for a minute or send them on an errand. Perhaps work out with a teacher on the other side of the building that you may send this student to drop something off if you ever feel it’s necessary so they are not wondering why in the world you sent some random object to them.

I once interviewed in a prison in Colorado for a teaching position.the interviewer asked me what I would do if 3 prison inmates cornered me into a closet and started fondling my breasts. I asked if this type of situation comes up for their teachers and her response was YES! I GOT UP TO LEAVE and she begged me to remain. I needed a job but i told her I would never consider a job where I was physically threatened . she needed to put more security in place , after all ,it was a prison for violent criminals .

Having worked in juvenile detention facilities for the last 11 of my 27 years in teaching, I will say I’ve never had ANYTHING even vaguely close to that occurring. However, I did turn down jobs just based on the vibe I got during the interview or tour of the facility. When I’d tell my incarcerated kids where I was offered a job they said “oh good thing you don’t work there!! That place is dangerous!” They knew from experience! 🙁

Discuss a safety plan with admin. Do all of the above suggestions about building rapport and being proactive, but have a just in case plan in place. Also, document ALL maladaptive behaviors, even if they seem fairly mild at first. Make sure to communicate with other teachers who have that student so you all can be aware when s/he is having a difficult day, or to look for patterns in behavior.

Documentation is so important. I use Google Sheets so there is a history of exactly when I entered the info and I share it with the student’s counselor or case carrier. Any major behavior, good and bad, gets documented at the end of the class period. It really helps me prep for IEP and behavior meetings.

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