Please grant me a few minutes of therapy blogging. For the past twenty-four hours, I have been mulling over an incident that occurred between myself and a parent at an evening sporting event. I am a bit ashamed to say that a significant amount of my reflection has been focused on why the situation wasn’t my fault. That shouldn’t be the case. Reflection should be done without agenda, in an effort to identify areas for improvement.
The problem began when the parent approached me, where I was sitting in the bleachers, and began yelling at me about their students failing grades. I had never before met the parent in person and was unaware that the student was failing. I told the parent that a crowded gymnasium (in front of staff, students and parents) was probably not the best place for the conversation. They insisted on carrying on, so I got up and walked with them, into the foyer. Unfortunately, it was one of those “conversations” that lacked reason and I was soon baited into an argument that did not end well.
When I went back into the gym, I noticed the student seated in the stands. I motioned for him to follow me out to the foyer–escorting the student and parent outside of the gym. Once outside, in a semi-private environment, I asked the student to explain what was going on. Then something unexpected happened. The student took full accountability for his grades and the parents wrath landed squarely on the student. I soon found myself defending the student and trying to assure the parent that we would get things straightened out. The ordeal ended with the parent leaving and the student, now in tears, standing next to me outside the gym. Boy…did I mess that one up. And I have been doing this school administration thing for a while.
Mistakes I made:
- I allowed myself to get baited into an argument with a parent. I am a calm person by nature, but I allowed my buttons to be pushed and turned a losing battle into a must-win situation.
- I did not disengage early enough. I should have discontinued the discussion earlier, told the parent to see me at school, and then…if necessary…walked away.
- I brought the student into the situation – my biggest regret. I was frustrated because I had been yelled at and I didn’t have sufficient information to adequately respond. Unfortunately, I drug a student into a volatile situation. It helped me, but hurt the student. Fail.
Tomorrow morning I am going to begin my day by calling the student to my office, where I will apologize for bringing him into an ugly situation. We will review his grades, come up with a plan for improvement and then I will swallow my pride and call the parent. It is the right thing to do.
That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.