“The next day, I told my 8th graders that unless they quieted down, I would hold them after school. It didn’t work. Tried again. And again. Finally, as the school day ended, I stood by the door.
“No one is leaving.” I said. “You’re all staying after school for 10 minutes.”
“But eight and a half minutes into this after-school faceoff, Ms. P pushed her way in.”
“What is going on here?!” she shouted, her mouth agape and her long thin eyebrows arched so high that they resembled treacherous ski slopes.”
“The kids erupted again with a full dramatic account. I had overstepped “the force of my personality.” And with Ms. P’s forced entry into the room, I looked pretty damn foolish.”
“Ms. P concluded that I shouldn’t be left alone with children, and reported the incident to the police and the Department of Education as “corporal punishment.” Typically, that involves hitting or physically abusing a kid. But Ms. P said she couldn’t think of another way to characterize me standing by the door for 10 minutes while the kids yelled at me. There was a disciplinary hearing, but as my representative from the United Federation of Teachers pointed out, “losing it” is not a clinical term. So Ms. P settled for putting a letter in my file full of words such as “dangerous,” “unsafe,” “alarmed,” “barricaded” and “insubordinate.””