July 4, 2012 by Brad Currie
I just started my twelfth year in education, eight as a social studies teacher and four now as a vice principal. The experience has been a blast and I am looking forward to many more years of impacting students lives and expanding my PLN. Many situations arise in the school setting where staff members need to do “whats best for kids” and “swallow their pride” in order to meet the needs of learners. In dealing with various school stakeholders on a daily basis it is important as a school leader, both as administrator and teacher, to be able to listen and make a decision that benefits the student. Often this entails “swallowing your pride” or “biting your tongue” when hearing something you don’t necessarily agree with or seeing a situation develop that doesn’t meet your expectations.
Throughout my short career as an educator there have been numerous times when I had to “swallow my pride” and do right for that particular child. For instance, one time a student refused to come to school, so myself, a school counselor and police officer went to his house and got him. The easy way out would of been to let him sit at home and do things on his terms, which we all know was not in his best interests. So, I swallowed my pride and went to the child’s house, climbed up a ladder onto a roof and convinced the kid he needed to come to school. Brought him back to school, it was a half day mind you, bought him lunch, had a chat and by that time the school day had ended. The student hardly missed another day of school for the next three years. Making connections with students and making uncomfortable decisions sometimes is the correct remedy to put a child in a position to succeed.
Often in my role as disciplinarian I encounter parents who are steadfast in that there child’s punishments did not fit the crime. As a school leader it is important in these types of situations to “swallow your pride” and really listen to what people have to say and make a sound decision in that particular point in time. The decision or consequence needs to incorporate “a learning experience” for the child and a sense of accountability that promotes a safe learning environment. Most times a parent’s rebuttal does not change the outcome. Every once in a while though, after careful consideration and hearing all sides of the story a change in the decision and/or consequence is revised. The important thing to remember here is to not take yourself too seriously, under-react and be able to accept other people’s viewpoint on a particular situation. Again, the idea of “whats best for kids” should always be at the forefront of an educator’s mind when making decisions.
The day in the life of an educator, whether as an administrator or teacher, is one that is never short of excitement or the unexpected. Interactions with school board members, central office staff, community members, parents and students happen all the time. There are many great ideas and initiatives that will be presented to you and sometimes with the expectation of making sure it gets followed through and achieved. Therefore it is important to remember to be able to “swallow your pride” even when the idea is not yours or you may disagree about its relevance. As long as you are able to “stay low on the ladder” and understand the positive impact it will have on students, the rest will take care of itself. Great school leaders are able to remain calm, be empathetic and quickly make sense of situations that arise as quickly as they are gone. Swallowing one’s pride is both engaging and relevant due to the fact that it pertains to promoting the success of all students.