Quite often I find myself shaking my head in frustration with how a conversation has gone with someone regarding a discipline issue with their child. I’m not sure what I think is worse: The parental reaction that seems to demonstrate only defense or disinterest, or the response from a child’s father or mother that appears to be an extreme overreaction. Well, O.K., so maybe what’s the worst is when the reaction doesn’t fit precisely into my expectation of an “appropriate” response. Now I’ve got to really put some mental and physical energy into this. Now I have to consider how someone else might be feeling about the situation. Now I have to ponder perspective. And then it’s my child that I’m getting a phone call about, and I quickly recognize that I’m not equipped to respond the same way in any circumstance. I’m no longer the educator discussing discipline – now I’m the parent trying to navigate what has happened, how I’m going to work with my daughter, and (right or wrong) how it reflects on me.
The world of public education has been turned upside down in recent years. Now, more than ever, educators are viewed less as leaders sacrificing so much for the benefit of young people, and more as lazy workers getting paid too much to fail our children. I listen to the criticisms and I get sick to my stomach with the vile and ignorant comments spewed from the mouths of people I can only believe are either extremely misinformed, or hell bent on destruction. Rushing to the defense of the teachers I work with, I’m crushed under the weight of an unfairly critical view of me and my colleagues. And then somewhere in the blur, I hear the comments about arrival and departure time, about communication not being “my job,” and about excuses for not changing in order to benefit our students, my students, my child. Now I‘m the administrator frustrated with staff, but only until I’m the administrator frustrated with administration, but only until I’m the person recognizing the struggle each level is facing – including that level far away from the offices of our government, our district, our school building, our own.
I’m a husband, a father, a son, a brother, an uncle, a nephew, a cousin, a friend. I’m an administrator, a teacher, an educator, a colleague, a professional. I have roles at work and at home and in life that don’t even fit in a title. I wear so many hats, and I’m required to look through so many lenses, and sometimes it gets so confusing. But I’m not alone, and I have to make an effort. I have to. I want to. I will.