A view from my side.
If you haven’t read Part 1 or Part 2, basically, Kid#3 didn’t have a glue stick for class the morning after being told he needed one. The teacher assigned him a detention and when I disputed the punishment, the Assistant Principal threatened the Alternative School. You truly can’t make this stuff up. So…now to the concluding post for The Great Glue Stick Fiasco.
I got a call mid day on Tuesday from the Assistant Principal. After taking the time to think things over and review the teaching team’s Discipline Plan, she agreed with me. She said she planned on meeting with the team to re-write their plan and that she would be using this as an example of teachers and administrators forgetting to see the bigger picture. Often too quick to punish, teachers sometimes forget what they are actually there for. Often too quick to support their staff, administrators sometimes forget to their obligation to the student.
We talked a good 20 minutes about education, where it was then and where we saw it going. We had a discussion about why we both got into education in the first place. Certainly not to make money. We talked about the real mission of education. Teaching children and adolescents not only their academic subjects, but lessons about life. Children today spend more time in the presence of their teachers than they do their parents. In the modern over scheduled chaos that is today’s family, many barely have time to have supper together, let alone the kind of time it takes to have the type of relationship that families had 20 years ago.
Consider a typical student’s day. “Jill” gets up in the morning, gets dressed and maybe eats breakfast at home or thinks about eating at school. Mom/dad are also in a rush to get out of the house and off to work. Sometimes all they have time for is a quick “Love you, bye” as they head out the door. Jill gets on the bus or in her car and spends the 15-30 minutes in her commute thinking about her day. Arriving at school, she’s there from about 7:45-4:00. If she’s involved in some after school activities (what kids aren’t these days?) then perhaps she is at school until 6:00 at a practice or is going back to school at 6:00 for an event. Many are involved in non school activities such as athletic clubs, scouts, dance, church activities, etc., and are busy until 8:00 or so. Somewhere in there she grabbed a bite to eat…leftovers in the fridge, a plate mom/dad left her, or fast food on the run. Then, off to her room for 2 hours of homework, emerging at 10:00 to say good-night. How much time has Jill actually had to spend with mom and dad today? And, that assumes mom and dad are still a couple.
Educators often fill the role of surrogate parent. Of course, you can’t say that to parents because they don’t really want to admit it, but in many cases, it is very true. Students look to teachers for knowledge, for guidance and more and more often, for life lessons. As educators we need to be aware of that and remember that each student comes to us with different issues and different circumstances. As educators we need to remember that we have much more influence over a child’s life than we often realize. While I understand a firm hand is often necessary, it is the guiding hand, pointing the way that is most often all that is needed.
As we brought our discussion to a close, the AP thanked me for reminding her of some of those things. I thanked her for her willingness to truly listen to what I had to say, rather than simply giving me time to talk. We hung up our phones, I think, we a renewed sense of respect for each other’s role. Her’s as administrator and mine as parent.
I know I hung up the phone realizing that not all School Administrators are stupid. Not all of them are automatons going through their paces every day. Some, like this one, are still in it because they want to make a difference. Some administrators still care about why they got into education in the first place and what their real mission is. I hung up the phone feeling good about where Kid#3 was in school and knowing he was in good hands. I also made sure he had all the glue sticks he needed the rest of the year.