College student goes insane during lecture -- how would you deal with this?

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by MikeTeachesMath, Jul 25, 2012.

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  1. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    Jul 25, 2012

    Warning: put headphones on. Trust me. LOTS of cursing and threatening.

    But I'm actually completely serious about having a discussion about this. What would you do? How would you handle this? How would you respond to something like this if you were that professor? Is there even a best way to handle this?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hl2MtvqFA6M

    If you don't watch the whole thing, it's important to note that besides her insane ramblings, she makes a death threat directed at the professor at 1:53.
     
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  3. QE1

    QE1 Rookie

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    Granted I don't know what set her off, but for me I think I would have called security and had them remove her from the class. Once it became clear that it was more than just an attack on the professor and that she was physically assaulting as well as verbally assaulting others in class, then it becomes a security issue and they should deal with her.

    I had my first student cuss me out in great detail during summer school this year and when it was clear there was nothing I could do to calm him down. I called the office and had him removed. Sometimes I think it is better to allow other more trained people deal with some situations.
     
  4. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    There was a verbal fight that could have turned physical once involving several students I knew at my university (I never met the Professor). It was all started by a discussion about Michael Jackson. Apparently, some people go nuts when you speak negatively about the King of Pop. The student was dropped from the course after the incident.

    It was actually close to the intensity of this but no touching or threats were involved and the class was much smaller.
     
  5. tootgravytrain

    tootgravytrain Comrade

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    Sounds like a normal day in my class. I love the sound of "F-bombs" in the morning! hahahahahahahaha
     
  6. HistTchr

    HistTchr Habitué

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    Wow--I have had students with outbursts in the past, but nothing ever close to this! If this happened at my school, I would have been on the phone with security in about 10 seconds and she would have been escorted out of the classroom. It looked like the professor was trying to explain himself to her at a couple of points, but I wouldn't even try to do that if the student was being so irrational and disrespectful. Because of the nature of her comments, she would most likely be up for arrest and subsequent expulsion if this happened at my school.
     
  7. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jul 25, 2012

    Scary.

    There should be some school procedure for handling such issues....intercom? As a student, I would have left...there's no telling if someone like this has a gun in their bag.. :(
     
  8. HistTchr

    HistTchr Habitué

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    I would have left the room if I was a student, too. I was surprised that some students stayed so close to her when they saw how aggressive she was becoming.
     
  9. tootgravytrain

    tootgravytrain Comrade

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    Don't make the mistake I've made - it could get you killed! Early in my teaching at the prison, I've offered irate students who were bugging out to go with me out in the yard to settle it. Thankfully, someone got between us both times.....I'm sure I would have gotten killed! hahahahahahahahaha
     
  10. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    We're talking a college setting here, so when I saw that she was out of control and wasn't calming down, I would direct the students to exit the room as quickly as possible. I don't think I would wait for security to get there, provided there was even a way I could call for them! Do colleges have that ability? I've never seen a call button in any college classroom I've been in, but maybe I just wasn't looking for one.

    In a high school setting, I would call for help, and then I would work to make sure the other students stayed calm. I might even begin to lead them out of the room. I'm not going to be a captive audience for a crazy person, if I can help it.
     
  11. time out

    time out Comrade

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    I read in the description that she was escorted out of the classroom and was tased and arrested. The discussion was about peacocks and she asked a question about race and it escalated from there.

    Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the professor is able to drop her from the class at the college level.
     
  12. tootgravytrain

    tootgravytrain Comrade

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    Before I landed this prison teaching job I was in juvenile lock up and alternative education a long time so experiences like this are not a surprise. We work with people and there are crazy people. Keep cool, don't intensify the situation and defuse ASAP. There's really no alternative, unless you carry mace like I do! hahahaha
     
  13. courtney

    courtney Rookie

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    Even worse than her acting out are the comments made on the video itself..members of every race go a lil crazy sometimes, but hateful crap like that gives the crazies ammo, in my opinion. >:/
    I agree with leading the group exodus from the classroom, while calling security. Let her rant and rave at the SmartBoard until they come to take her away HA HA, they're coming to take her away, HO HO! (Sorry..it's a song, not an insult..lil joke to break the tension.)
     
  14. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    OK, I have a question: (I am so NOT a phone person, so I have no idea.) Is it possible to TEXT 911 without actually speaking? Every kid in that class had a cell phone... could they have texted for help without running the risk of angering her further by walking out on her tirade?
     
  15. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    In some locations it is, but not very many. Security was obviously called at some point. It's too bad they don't have panic buttons on the wall, like some schools. Maybe they do and that's why security showed up. I heard her threaten to kill people at least three times and physically attack at least two people.

    I just read an article and it said her family said she was bipolar and schizophrenic. Schitzphrenics are more likely to be violent towards themselves when they aren't stable, but unmedicated or poorly medicated bipolar disorder can be really scary. I had a student tell me he was Superman and he could fly and he started trying to climb to the roof. I've had a special education student with Emotional/ Behavior Disabilities get really violent once, and I emptied the classroom completely and stood in the doorway, while I sent two responsible students to get help.
     
  16. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jul 25, 2012

    Again, we're having computer issues and I can't get any sound.

    Can anyone give me a brief synopsis of what was said? I watched the first minute or so but have no idea what she said.
     
  17. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    The sound isn't great, but the f word occurs about every other word, threats to kill people, insults to white people...
     
  18. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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  19. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    So thankful she won't be operating on or teaching anyone.:dizzy:
     
  20. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I feel for this girl--I really do. But I'm not sure if it's the best decision to let her return to school after a semester. That wouldn't be safe for the students or teachers.

    I have no idea what I would do. I don't have an assistant who would call security and I feel like she would get even more angry if I tried to call security. Maybe I would open the door and signal to another teacher for help while getting the other students out of the room.
     
  21. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    I've had worse outbreaks in an elementary classroom!! Without giving too many details, I've had desks thrown, children put in headlocks and hit in the head repeatedly, I myself was assaulted, etc.---all by the same student, multiple times throughout the school year. This student had some severe issues, but it still made for a very unsafe learning environment. I would hit the intercom, then get the other students out of the room--sometimes I was able to get out with them, other times I had to stand between a particular student and the ones that were being blocked from exiting by this student.
     
  22. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    The professor--no doubt shell shocked--made a big mistake by not calling campus security. That did not have to get out of hand. I personally think she should have gotten charged with assault given the physical aggressions to classmates. I realize her having a mental health issue makes me sound a little callous but I have been the victim of a different race teacher colleague with bipolar go off on me (much less than this girl maybe only because I walked out of the room) screaming racists remarks. Afterwards, I had a lot of anxiety because our classrooms were next to each other. I was constantly watching out for her students (who sometimes complained to me about her even though they never knew my terrible experiences). I was upset with administration, etc. People can truly affect your life and, when it is in ways like that they should not get a pass because their meds were off. Given her past history, she should be closely monitored by friends, family, doctor, and herself on a more regular basis because no one should have to be a victim to that. Frankly, I feel bad for the affect it has had on her future but she should be required to finish her degree online or at least not allowed to come back to her University. (Maybe I am too harsh and definitely I',m irked by all the talk of the Batman theater shooter being crazy and maybe getting off for an insanity defense and I'm sure that is affecting my response. :))
     
  23. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    I would have left as an adult and called for help once I had left. When I was a young college student I would have stayed to watch the drama, I think.
     
  24. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    According to the article, a TA left to call police, while the professor stayed there to help calm her.

    It's a sad commentary on the state of mental illness in our country. We confront it AFTER it rears its ugly head (as in Aurora), while taking very few preventative measures.
     
  25. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    The professor did the best he could under the circumstances. If this happened in a classroom of mine, I would hope I could trust a student in the room to RUN for help if I didn't have a working intercom. If there was an intercom, simply turning it on would be the best bet so the situation could be monitored from the office while help was being sent.
     
  26. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I honestly don't know what I would do in a situation like this, in a college setting or high school setting. I would hope a student would have the sense to leave the classroom and call for help if a TA was not in the room. As a professor, I think I would just calmly hear her out and try to calm her down.
     
  27. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    It seems to me that the family in the article is putting all the blame on her outbreak on the school:
    The TA left to get security/police. He tried to calm her down. What else should they have done? It sounds like this girl has a LOT of issues.
    Being in school where she kept having breakdowns wasn't the best for her. What is she to do when she became a teacher and a student set her off?
     
  28. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

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    Wow....that is the sign of a mental breakdown.
     
  29. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    If this happened in my classroom I would probably send two kids to the office. Once she started to get out of her seat and get physical with other students I would get the rest of the students out of the class. I would send the class to the class across the hall and have the teacher across the hall call security as not to set her off further. I would try to position myself in between her and any students as they were making their way out of the room. I might also send a kid for the social worker since her office is only about 20 feet from my door.

    Hopefully I would be informed if I had someone in my class that was bipolar or has schizophrenia just so I can prepare myself in case of a break down. I know communication between home and school doesn't always work out that way.
     
  30. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    I could have written this word for word.
     
  31. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I've had small outbursts, nothing like this.

    Fortunately I'm surrounded by capable teachers and paper thin walls. Even if I wasn't able to call for help, others would hear and come to see what was going on.

    Our principal doesn't mess around with stuff like this. The student would be down on the ground in a hold within a couple of minutes. Our cops are pretty quick to respond when needed too.
     
  32. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    I feel like the professor did exactly what he needed to do. He did not try to touch her or talk to her, and his TA went to get help. There really isn't anything more he could have done; anything would have set her off even more.

    As a student, I would have left the class, and called 911 from the hallway.

    Bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia are very scary diseases. I hope she gets the help she needs.
     
  33. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    The teachers and all the other students aren't the ones that have a problem. SHE is the one that has a problem and needs to take care of it properly. I wouldn't spend the money to bring in a specialist for other students because it is not their responsibility to deal with a classmate going ballistic. I could see giving extra training to the teachers so they can be better prepared for outbursts like this, but I also agree the professor handled the situation the best he could in the situation. He said he realized right away it was a mental breakdown and he just wanted to keep Jonatha as calm as he could. Neither he, the TA nor security did anything wrong.

    The parents say this incident isn't Jonatha's fault. I disagree. She knows her condition and what can happen if she doesn't keep her medication current. As for the question of evolution vs creation, I can understand her wanting to challenge the professor's view. That should be permissable at the college level, although most professors do NOT like having their views questioned or challenged (in my experience). But her classmates said the evolution unit had not been started and the professor IS open to students questioning statements he makes, so the blame does fall squarely on Jonatha. It isn't her fault she is bipolar and schizophrenic, but it IS her fault if she doesn't take the meds she needs to help her keep control.

    As for what to do in this situation, I see a few different strategies.

    1. When a student becomes this irrational and disrespectful, you could ask/tell them to leave the room if they can't calm down. This may not be the best strategy.

    2. As soon as she began yelling at other students, I would tell the rest of the students to leave the room and designate at least two of them to go for help; 1 to the closest classroom to get that teacher and one to the office to get security.

    3. Have the other students move to the back of the room away from the angry student to protect themselves and remove any additional stressors from upsetting the student even more.


    While all the other kids were just as shell-shocked as the professor, Jonatha is lucky none of them responded physically to her threats, especially when she got right in their face. A LOT of people do NOT like that and feel threatened by it and many of them react instinctively to the perceived threat. I could understand the white male leaning back away from her when she leaned over the table and yelled in his face, but I could also see him (or another student) also automatically slapping or punching her in the face when she did that.

    All in all, the professor and school personnel handled the situation correctly and professionally. The family can complain and place the blame all they want, but they video shows the situation was handled properly.
     
  34. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I would probably deal with it the same way they did deal with it. Call campus police and have her escorted out of the class.

    She wasn't really just in disagreement with what they were learning and holding a conversation about her viewpoints. She was just being verbally abusive, seemed to have lost control of her emotions, and I just think she was emotionally unwell. A conversation with her probably could not be had.
     
  35. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Very scary! I too would try to evacuate the students out of the room if possible or to a safe area away from the student having the problem. I have a moveable wall between my classroom and the one next to it, which has a male teacher. I'd yell for him saying Mr. X, I need you 911! I would also try to get two students to go to the office.

    Using my phone to dial 911 would be a great idea - you don't have to to talk to them, but phone reception in my building is the pits!

    I don't know if I could continue my teaching career if I were to experience such an attack.
     
  36. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    That makes sense. Poor, professor. I am sure the whole time he was wondering what took so long.

    You are right that this is a sad commentary on mental illness in the country. Although I am not convinced the Batman shooter should be considered mentally ill so much as evil with all the planning that went into his actions. That's a whole other debate though.
     
  37. mcqxu

    mcqxu Comrade

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    Wow, clearly she had some serious mental issues. I'm not sure who called security, but that's what I would have done esp. after the death threat. Before she went off on a raging tangent I would have pointed that out to her that her question had nothing to do with the topic of discussion. In my opinion the professor should not have given her the satisfaction by trying to answer her question in the first place, which was incredibly offensive.
     
  38. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    My, my, my! FAU is FL Atlantic Univ I believe...not that that matters. The YouTube statements says what set her off, which was craziness & sure didn't need to resort to that. I can't believe the people sitting right next her didn't get up & away from her fast! No one knows what goes on in the minds of anyone.

    Well, her life is ruined...what a shame!
     
  39. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    If it had to happen, I'm thankful it did so before she got certification and was placed in a classroom.
     
  40. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Her life is not ruined, or at least it shouldn't be. She just put a big hurdle in her life that will have to be overcome, but it can be done. One month from now, most people won't even remember her name without some help from Google. Several members have mentioned allowing her to finish her classes online. Given the circumstances, I'm sure some school would be willing to let her pick up the last two credits she needs for her degree.

    What she does after that will be up to her.

    I agree completely with this. Just think what would happen if she exploded like this in her own classroom. Her students could be facing a very real danger of physical harm. It would also be just one more huge mark for the media to use against teachers in general.

    I'm not sure what kind of job would be best for her education, but I agree it should be far removed from teaching in a classroom.
     
  41. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    I've never had a student get that crazy, but I do have a few who have outbursts toward each other. As long as they are not physical, I usually let the student vent and fizzle. During the rant I quietly let the other students know they to stay quiet, give the student space and let me handle it after class. I've found that if I approach a venting student too firmly, they escalate. My students have been in sped their entire education, so they understand outbursts and they are old enough to understand that sometimes a peer just needs to vent. If a student is the target of the vent, I usually ask him/her to take a walk to create space.

    If a student is throwing things or threatening, I've been trained to have the rest of the class leave the room and let the aggressive student go to town and get their anger out - even if they are breaking things.

    Of course, part of this training is to spot the signs of escalating emotions before a student reaches a peak of intensity.
     
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