The #PDposse welcomes back guest blogger, Jon Harper. Jon is the Vice-Principal at Choptank Elementary School in Maryland. You can follow Jon on Twitter; @JonHarper70BD
Unfortunately, I believe that some folks working in education today feel that the faster they draw “their weapon”, the more likely it is they will win the confrontation. I find the opposite to be the case when working with students, parents and fellow educators. In my experience I have found that a calm and steady hand and head is what always works best.
A student calls out or displays a poor behavior choice in class. The experienced teacher doesn’t fire right back or make a quick snap decision. They assess the situation carefully because they want to be as accurate as possible in how they choose to handle it. Students in their classes know that their teacher is not going to fire back and they do not feel the need to do the same. The showdown never takes place!
A parent comes into school wanting to speak to an administrator regarding some injustice that they feel has been done to their child. They are angry and they are ready to fire at a moment’s notice. But the experienced leader knows that parents need to have their concerns heard. They need to feel listened to. And they are. Therefore, the parent never even needs to reach down into their holster. The showdown never takes place!
An angry staff member comes to you because they simply believe that too much is being expected of them and that there is not enough time in the day to get it all done. They assume that you won’t agree with them and that you believe that they have more than enough time in the day to fulfill their responsibilities. They are looking to pick a fight and they have a posse to back them up. You sit next to them and you listen and you tell them that you agree with them. You tell them that teaching is much more difficult today than it was when you were teaching. You also help them find ways that they can lighten their load. The teacher is relieved and they give the signal to call of their posse that is waiting in the hallway. The showdown never takes place!
In education it is very easy to pick fights and too often we want to react quickly. Next time you think you might be headed for a showdown just relax, take a deep breath, and remember that quick draws only work in Old Westerns.