… the Ugly

I wrote this on December 1, 2017

This is my first year here and something upsetting happened last Friday in my classroom. It was that class’s turn to clean the classroom and they tend to get noisy and boisterous, so I didn’t realize at first that some kids were shouting.

I turned just in time to see one student throw another into the wall, where he bounced off into the AC and then slid to the floor. I hauled the (bigger) culprit down to the office, where the head teacher said he’d take care of it. I returned to class and the (smaller) victim was down the hall in the toilet, according to his classmates. I sent a boy to check and was told that he’d be right back. I figured he needed to compose himself.

When he returned, he looked shaken up but appeared ok otherwise. When I asked, he told me he was ok. He seemed like he didn’t want any more attention, so I went back to teaching and gave them a new vocabulary word: inappropriate.

The next period was lunch and the office was closed so I went to the cafeteria, where I saw the head teacher (Chinese) and asked him what happened. He said it was just a misunderstanding (like boys will be boys) so even though I was upset, I figured it was a cultural thing.

I asked the other foreign teachers after lunch and learned that my student was the same one who had fought in another classroom about a week or so earlier. We figured there would be some fallout (ie: second strike).

That evening I got a text from a coworker asking what happened. I told her. and then she told me that the smaller boy’s mom had posted photos on WeChat showing bruising all around his neck. (!!) Of course I texted my student, who said he’d been to the hospital and the doctor had said ‘no problem’.


This week I asked and was told that they would negotiate with the parents, and my student would be punished. But he was in class, and his injured classmate was not for most of the week. Another day I spoke to their home room teacher, and she also said he would be punished. I tried to get more information from her, saying that the US way is different and I wanted to understand. She seemed to holding back something, and told me that the school was handling it.

Later, between classes, my student came to me with a written apology note, and also verbally apologized.

I haven’t been contacted by the office about this, nor informed of the outcome. In the US I’d have to write an incident report.


Is such violence accepted here? These kids are 15 years old.

Thanks for reading and I appreciate any insights.



Post script

I didn’t find out what happened until March, when I was talking to a new instructor. SHE knew what had happened, even though she hadn’t even been there when it occurred. She had heard the students talking about it, and asked me. I told her what I wrote above, and told her that I didn’t KNOW what was  going on. She said she would ask the students for me.

Apparently, my student R had a ball with him that day. My other student, A, took it from him and was bullying him by holding it out of his reach. Since R is small, he had probably been bullied before, and had had enough, so he demanded that A give the ball back. A responded with increased violence.

Both students stayed in my class through the end of the year. R grew and had bulked up considerably by then.


I decided not to post this last year because my contract included a clause about not saying anything bad about the school. I also had been really freaked out about being spyed on….

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