This morning I woke up ready and eager to tackle this post, as the impetus for it had me tossing and turning last night. I was struggling with how to choose the right words, how to maintain professionalism and composure in the face of hurtful mistruths about my staff and how to ensure that I was not going to compromise the essence of my blog. Throughout my 300+ posts, I have been determined to stay true to my initial intention for writing, which was to use this platform for personal reflection, to spark professional conversations and to highlight and celebrate all things related to leadership, learning and life.
So here goes….
A good friend once told me that if you want to keep everyone happy, sell ice cream cones. I have learned over the years that although there are moments of sheer joy, similar to the experience of seeing the ice cream truck come down the road, keeping everyone happy is impossible. So instead, I have learned that when those tough decisions must be made (and some days there are a number of them) ensure that you have communicated clearly and with as much transparency as possible. That is a lesson that I continue to share with staff when they are faced with challenging parent situations. We know and appreciate that parents are doing their best to advocate for their children ~ sometimes with only their own child’s perspective on a situation. We also know that there are a variety of reasons why parents are reluctant to connect with educators and then, if necessary, an administrator. I never underestimate the long-term impact of childhood trauma associated with schools and educators and appreciate that at times, parents bring that trauma forth and hence are reluctant to reach out for help.
Our school community is one that embraces and appreciates the importance of an education. They work alongside of the educators to ensure that their child’s needs (academic, behavioural, social-emotional) are addressed. For some students, that work goes on for years before a strategy starts to have an impact. We know that we are not perfect. We know that at times issues occur on the school yard, beyond the sightline of a supervisor on the yard. But when they are brought to our attention, they are thoroughly investigated. We know, that at times, our solution is one that parents may not agree with. If a child continues to harm other children on the yard, sometimes the alternative is to walk with an adult, so that those problem-solving conversations can happen. Sometimes it is time in an alternate location, while others are on the yard, to reflect on their actions, followed by an alternative time outside with an adult to ensure fresh air and a body break. To those parents who have partnered with us, a sincere thank you. We know that, at times, you may see similar behaviour beyond the school day and are working on home-based solutions.
All this to say, that yesterday, a Facebook post was brought to my attention where a parent in our community took to social media and shared her perspective of a situation involving her child. My heart breaks that this child no longer wants to come to school and although it was not reflected in this parent’s post, the teacher has been reaching out for months to try and connect with this parent. We want to offer the support of our school social worker. We want to have conversations with this student about the fact that he feels that he is being discriminated because he is white. But my heart also breaks for the allegations that my staff “doesn’t give a sh$%^&*.” The interesting point in this post is that at no time did that parent reach out to me so that I could offer support or suggestions. I would be the first to apologize if we had been working together and we were still at the point that their child did not feel comfortable coming to school. But to not even be given the chance to work it out, has only harmed the child.
My love/hate relationship with social media continues to ruminate in my mind. I know that there are more positives, more informative sharing and more celebrations occurring on social media connected to our school than these few nasty, ill-informed negative ones and I guess we just need to rise above it.
There is a piece of me that wants to chime in on that post, but I know that is not going to accomplish anything ~ it may only inflame the situation and for the sake of the student that is the last thing that I want to happen.
In the time it has taken to craft this post, I have received an email from a grandparent in our community. Here is an excerpt, “If this is the quality of teaching that XXX can expect as she moves class to class, you can certainly stand proud of your team.
My thanks to the team and to the school for providing a safe and excellent forum for learning”
Maybe today’s lesson on leadership, learning and life is to be patient, like waiting for the ice cream truck’s bell to ring to let us know that it’s on its’ way. Just when you become mired in the negative, a positive is around the corner.
Would love to hear about your love/relationship with social media.
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