A recent article reported that Wisconsin teachers have the highest attack rate for which many may involve teacher student fights. The challenge for Wisconsin teachers could exist in the cultural differences between teachers and students. The data collected in the article falls short on focusing on the primary causes for teacher student fight from different ethnicities.

Wisconsin had the highest percentage — 11.3 — of public school teachers in the nation who reported being physically attacked by students during the 2011-12 school year, according to a report released by the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The state had the third highest percentage of teachers — 13.7 — who reported being threatened with injury by students. Nationwide, the average for reported physical attacks among teachers was 5.8 percent in 2011-12. The national rate for being threatened with injury was 12.8 percent.

According to Chris Vander Heyden, district administrator in the Menasha Joint School District, said teachers are threatened or attacked most often at the elementary school level.

Do many of the elementary school level teacher student fights result from teachers who are racist against Black students?

Racism against Black students begins at the preschool level. According to the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, Black children represent 18% of preschool enrollment, but 48% of children receiving more than one out-of-school

suspension, while White students account for 43% of preschool enrollment but 26% of preschool the children receiving more than one out of school suspension.

This racism at the elementary school level initiates the school to prison pipeline. The term “school-to-prison pipeline” is a phrase that is used by education reform activists and organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Justice Policy Center, Advancement Project, and the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) to describe what they view as a widespread pattern in the United States of pushing students, especially those who are already at a disadvantage, out of school and into the American criminal justice system. They argue that this “pipeline” is the result of public institutions being neglectful or derelict in properly addressing students as individuals who might need extra educational or social assistance, or being unable to do so because of staffing shortages or statutory mandates. The resulting miseducation and mass incarceration are said to create a vicious circle for individuals and communities.

The school-to-prison pipeline operates at all levels of US government (federal, state, county, city and school district) both directly as a result of zero tolerance policies, and indirectly due to exclusion from the school system.

Referring to the disciplinary trends for preschool children, it should not surprise educators that teacher student fights are prevalent at the elementary school level. If a teacher constantly corrects a child’s behavior, eventually they will tune the teacher out. This will result in continued disciplinary infractions but it will also ensure that the teachers’ instruction is ineffective which ultimately impact student standardized achievement.

Constant discipline will lower the child’s self-esteem. If a teacher explodes every time a child breaks one of the rules, he or she will feel badly about themselves. If he or she sits with his legs straight out in front of them and you command “cross your legs.” He walks a little too quickly, too slowly. If you are impossible to please and always pick on your pumpkin, he may end up with low self-esteem. He may be thinking, “Why can’t I make my teacher happy?” In turn the student may develop and respond to the teacher disrespectfully.

Teachers can infuse fear into their students which will produce contradictory behavior that could result in a teacher student fight. A teacher should never make it a goal to completely control the student. Teachers should want children to respect them and not fear them. If you over discipline a student, he or she may end up feeling like he or she has to walk on egg shells to please you. “I don’t want the teacher to get mad at me,” is not a good reason for your student to want to behave. Instead, he or she should be inclined to be a good boy or girl because it is the right thing to do.

Many teacher student fights can result from teachers developing a short fuse in their students. If the teachers fuse is very short with the students then they are modeling the same behavior. Another consequence of over disciplining students is that he may develop a very low tolerance for other people.

In order to avoid those teacher student fights in the elementary schools teachers can use the following strategies:

  1. When they have violated a rule, have them to recite the rule and the consequence
  2. Demonstrate the behavior that your desire from you students (i.e. do not scream at them)
  3. Provide students with chances and choices

While teacher student fights for elementary students and teachers is not as damaging as altercations that happen at upper school levels, it is evident that teachers must eliminate classroom racism (Elcloomism) by promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships (Properateasclaships).

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Rialto Unified: Former band teacher who fought with student sues district

Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012


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