Sent to the Principal’s Office…OH NO!
Hello Classical Families and Friends,
In the back, or maybe the front of our brains, is a minor dread to be expected – unexpectedly – to speak to a figure of authority. As adults we can get jumpy about seeing the lights of a police car in our rearview mirror or an email from our boss asking to meet with us before we go home that day. When these situations occur, our hearts race and we quickly try to determine what is about to happen to us and if we have done anything wrong. Most often the police lights were flashing for a reason other than our driving and our boss just wanted to ask for some more input on a routine issue. Certainly, the police officer who was rushing to a traffic accident and your stakeholder invested boss did not want to cause those anxiety shivers to run up and down your spine, but it happened regardless.
As a principal, quite a few of our parents have spoken to me about their own negative childhood experiences revolving around being sent to the principal’s office. They half-jokingly/half-seriously state that they hope their children do not ever have to see me!
I understand. I get it.
As a new special education teacher, I did not want to send any of my students to speak to the principal because I thought that I would be viewed as the inexperienced teacher I was. So instead I talked with other educators and worked on developing a consistent rapport between myself and my students. But when I felt that my bag of tricks was exhausted, I did send a few students to the principal and I hoped that the principal would MAKE the children act differently.
A few principals I had over the years did employ some sort of intimidation with students …and I can tell you that I think that technique is useless. It fails on so many levels to build any kind of lasting positive relationships with students and families and while it might be what some people expect of a stereotypical authority figure, it simply falls far short of achieving any long-lasting changes in behavior.
The more effective principals, who I have come to admire and try to emulate, do not see themselves as intimidators, but rather mentors to the students who enter their office. This being said, surely the students still get that nervous feeling upon entering the principal’s office, but the more effective principals do not try to cultivate that anxiety. They try to set the students at ease and to work through the challenging situations together.
Any student can make a minor or major behavioral mistake and some of those students make their way to my office. Most of the time, once I listen to that student, I’ll find out that other students were involved. Then I’ll have individual discussions with those students. This process can be time-consuming, but after hearing each person’s story and ironing out the discrepancies between the individual perspectives, most students feel relieved and able to interact better with one another in the future.
So, if your son or daughter has to see me unexpectedly, you can tell them that most often it will be for some mundane reason. But if they have made a behavioral mistake, they can expect to find a principal who will listen to them and who will work to develop a solution that allows everyone to get along better tomorrow.
Mr. Thomas Bomann
Principal, Classical School