Inside the Trenches of the Principal: Week 42

I have two sons: Ryder is six and a half and Maddox is three. Ryder has had a rough month at school. He has an amazing teacher and he is at a great school; he is simply not following directions. He’s showing out at home as well with attitude and disrespect. My wife and I are working with him on making better choices and he’s facing consequences for his actions. I’m not saying I am a great parent or that I am doing all the right things, but I accept that my child is not perfect and he is the one making these choices.

I explain all this because I sympathize. I sympathize with many of the parents who I meet with or call who also have children who are getting into trouble and not following directions at school or at home. I make calls daily to parents at my school and have to explain that their child got into trouble. The reactions vary, from complete denial that their child would do anything wrong to overwhelming apologies that their child disrupted the classroom. No matter where on the spectrum the parent lies, I definitely understand that it can be embarrassing, frustrating, or an inconvenience when these calls come through.

As a teacher, the challenge is being accountable for 20+ students when
one or two are taking up 90% of your attention. As a parent, the
challenge is needing your child to be in school so you can be at your
job, but also ensuring that your child is not taking away the learning
opportunities from all of the other students. And as an administrator, I want to ensure that students are in a safe, productive learning environment.

The reality is I don’t have an answer on what to do. I am going to continue holding my child accountable for his actions, and I will continue holding my students accountable for their actions. At my school, we have made big pushes for restorative practices that aim to align consequences with actions. We also try our best to keep kids in the learning environment, since they can’t learn the content if they’re not in the classroom. As a staff, we’ve discussed classroom environments and tones of voice, options for discipline, and moving forward we’ll be doing training on verbal de-escalation.

I will be spending this weekend with Ryder working on ways he can better respond in class and at home, and hopefully we can end May on a high note!


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