Day 178 (of 188) it’s not easy being nice; at least it’s noticed! Inspired in part by @valeriestrauss
Recently I retweeted and refacebooked an article on retiring principal George Wood by Valerie Strauss: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/22/what-has-changed-is-that-it-is-harder-for-us-to-be-nice-to-kids-departing-veteran-principal/
I had one of my staff come to me and comment on the article and she agreed; we have some students that would traditionally have been ‘sent home’ more frequently than I allow. I admit that some of my advisors look at my statistics vs my “want/need list” and comment that the numbers don’t add up. Other schools have more suspensions. More discipline issues. I may be my own worst enemy…
Because I early identified that my learning community has some issues around anxiety and self-regulation which has emerged as our key school goal…..which means that we need to work with these students. All of them. Even the ones that are frustrating (strategy one: provide wait time – neither me nor the student can be in a ‘red zone’ of thinking in order to identify the issue and strategies/alternatives that could be used).
It’s hard to be kind. To not let a student go home when that is what they may want (and others really want to happen) and instead work with them can keep the students in an environment that help to understand the situation being worked through.
But then again, it’s easy to discount or misjudge people. Happens all the time. And punishments are much easier to hand out – but what happens if nothing’s been learned (or worse nothing was taught beyond “don’t do that again”).
I know I’ll take some heat for my decisions as principal in my learning community. But even in the learning community where we did suspend a lot, it was done as part of a plan (sidebar – school that when I was hired there was an average of 4 suspensions/day – but again, part of a plan and almost always done in the students interest to provide some time & space to work on the many issues – and by the time I left we were down to less than 1/week….maybe a tad more than that – but this is a conversation topic I prefer facetoface but it’s one of the key reasons I suspend so rarely here – high “pain” tolerance and reluctance to send kids home to chaos when we can provide structure & support for 6 hours in their life!
And right now my plan is to focus on supporting my entire learning community with kindness and work consistently doing better. And being happy when a CEA says ‘thank you for focusing on the people’ and teachers acknowledge that not relying on detentions & suspensions is the harder, but in the long term more valuable part of our job as educators. Thank you to George Wood for confirming that being kind is so important each day and that the work is complex in its simplicity! Love how that article ended….