My principal made my day last week. I have to say that I do know how lucky I am to work for her. When the principal who hired me left (for a fantastic promotion) I was devastated. When they promoted our assistant principal I was relieved. Over time I’ve become even more impressed with her. Today she became a rock star to me.
I have a little friend this year who is really struggling. We'll call this child RB (rubber band for all the stretching and tension this little one faces and struggles with). Teachers spend a lot of time with RB in the classroom, in the hallway, in other classrooms, wherever we can help. RB spends some time screaming about hating things. At other times RB is totally engaged. Still other times RB is off alone in a corner of the room. None of us have been able to figure out how best to meet the needs we are seeing (and believe me, we’ve got a lot of folks involved in this).
Last weekI was alone with my students when RB had some serious problems. I finally broke down and called the office for help. Both my principal and assistant principal came to my room. They were amazing. They wandered the room talking with all of my kids and eventually spoke with the child in question. The principal had a long conversation that was both kind and caring and authoritative and firm. She began by asking what was going on in the classroom and just talking about the math centers we were doing. She told RB that screaming at school was not acceptable and that dad would be called to come and remove RB if it happened. In the end she got RB to join the group for our share at the end of math workshop, at least to the extent that RB ever joins the group which is sitting somewhat behind others in the circle. At least RB was with us and not screaming.
My principal then waited in the hallway outside of my classroom for the next fifteen minutes while we had share and got ready for lunch. She waited in case she was needed and she walked with us to the cafeteria. I stopped in her office after depositing my students at lunch to discuss what she had noticed and what she was thinking. One thing we talked about was how much RB dislikes PE right now. Yesterday RB spoke with my amazing co-teacher about PE rather than going to the gym. RB was able to explain what made PE so awful and why going was such a torment. My principal said, “If it’s that terrible for RB, let’s stop forcing it. Have RB come here to the office with something to do while the rest of the class goes to PE. Make sure it’s clear that it isn’t a punishment.” What a wonderful solution for the moment. There are so many issues for RB; PE doesn’t need to be one of them.
Just before it was time for us to go to PE the principal came by my room again to check and see if she was needed. She wanted to be sure things were in hand for RB. I was thrilled to see her. We didn’t need her, but her presence was so reassuring.
RB was excited by the idea of going to the office once it was clearly understood. We gathered up the writing work and book and went to the office after taking the rest of the class to the gym. RB stayed there for half an hour having a lovely time. My principal came out and chatted with my little one near the end and shared how proud she was that RB was able to make such a great choice.
I left that afternoon thinking that my principal had handled this situation beautifully. She made RB feel comfortable while setting clear boundaries. She made me and my co-teachers feel supported as professionals and feel that RB’s issues are being addressed. For all of the frustrations in the day, this made it possible for me to end the day feeling great.