“The Worst Kid Ever.” I will always remember these words. They cut through my soul like hot butter on bread.
I’ve been in education for more than 25 years and never have I been more professionally despondent than I am at this very moment. Over the past 25 years, I have heard and seen a lot of things. Some cause my stomach to turn. While others cause my eyeballs to literally feel like they are going to roll out of my face. There are times when I cannot hold my tongue. Today was one of those times.
Like every day, I prefer to eat lunch in a classroom, office, anywhere but the staff lounge. It’s not that I don’t like the staff I work with. Most are actually pretty nice people. I just prefer to multitask while eating my lunch. It’s also a time when I can make personal phone calls if I need to or handle other personal business.
My lunch started off relatively quiet; relaxing. However, it was short lived, and in a big memorable way. When suddenly and without warning (if there could be any), I heard the teacher next door screaming “You’re the worst kid ever… I never worked with a kid as bad as you. You’re the baddest kid ever.” My heart sank and I could feel my blood pressure rise. I got up from my seat and walked to the classroom next door, peaked in the window of the door, and saw the teacher continually berating this kid while simultaneously pointing his finger at him, his head hanging low. Feeling helpless, I opened the classroom door, peaked my head inside the entrance, and asked the teacher “Would you like me to take him into my room?” The teacher responded “No, he’s OK. Now, he’ll be the best kid ever.”
Now for the record. I’m a black teacher. The student is a black male second grader and the other teacher is a white male. None of these details should really matter, because I would have been upset if the student was white, purple, or red. In my eyes, a child is a child. I have treated all students that I have come in contact with respect and dignity. What I saw and heard today was so disrespectful and unprofessional. It was abusive, negligent, and detrimental, and I’m feeling some kind of way about it. That teacher’s words still echoing in my brain. I still hear him. His voice reverberating off the wall, bouncing back and forth like tennis balls. His voice is haunting.
Honestly, I’m in shock. I’ve read newspaper articles about teachers abusing students. I’ve seen video clips on TV and the Internet, but this feels so surreal. It’s the kind of thing you hope you never have to witness or have firsthand knowledge of, but when you do, it rocks you to your core. It causes you to fall on your knees. It’s gonna be hard to get up from this one, but I know I must.
“Be careful how you react. Spills can be wiped up. Dishes and furniture can be replaced, but it takes a long time to fix a child’s broken heart.”