This is our week on the blog to write something about our lives. The theme is "All About Me" and it's means our choice of topic is wide open.
I spent my whole professional career in schools --as a teacher, then a building principal, now a teacher of principals and teachers. The recent school shooting was horrifying in so many ways, and it reminded me of something I wrote many years ago at the end of one long week.
A Matter of Principals
Last week, I was kicked, screamed at, bled on and bit all in the course of doing my job. I'm not a doctor or a policeman. I'm not even a professional wrestler. I am a public school administrator. I work in an elementary school in a good neighborhood with parents that, for the most part, are very concerned and involved with their children's education. But even the "good" schools are not immune to the changing demands placed on our public schools today.
On Monday, I told a teacher to lock herself in her classroom with twenty two four-year-olds. One of those four-year-olds was wearing the marks of an abusive parent - a parent that was on his way up to the school. I stood outside that locked door, between that large, angry man and those children, and prayed. Prayed he didn't have a gun. Prayed he wasn't going to hit me. Prayed I would be brave. I never thought my profession as an educator might one day cost me my life. I thought about it a lot last Monday.
On Tuesday, I listened to parents. Bobby Miller's parents said the teacher doesn't understand him - he's not meeting Bobby's needs. Bobby is attention deficit and that's why he knocked out Suzy Johnson's two front teeth. Martha Wilson's parents said the teacher
doesn't understand her either - she's not meeting Martha's needs. Martha's gifted and that's why she ate all the tape residue off the chalkboards. So many needs. How can we possibly meet them all?
On Wednesday, Joe Patterson busted his head open on the playground. Due to the budget cuts, we don't have a full time nurse. I got there first. By the time I got him inside and calmed down, I was covered in blood. The counselor kept waving those plastic gloves in my face, but I couldn't stop. A child was hurt. I wasn't going to leave him to go inside for plastic gloves. Later, I washed the blood off my hands. It will never come out of that white dress.
On Thursday, Michael had a bad day. When Michael has a bad day - we all have a bad day. Michael was born addicted to crack. He bit me three times on the way back to the office. No one taught me the right way to carry a biting six year old out of a classroom so that others can learn. No one taught me about Michael.
On Friday, I listened to teachers. I listened to them teaching despite the distractions. I listened to them worrying in the teacher's lounge over children they couldn't reach. I listened to them cry in my office over the stress of the job. I listened. It was the least I could do.
On Saturday, I yelled at someone I loved. He had no way of knowing about Monday through Friday. He had no way of knowing it was not for him.
On Sunday, I was back at school - working quietly in a deserted office. And when the work was finally done, I walked those quiet halls on Sunday all alone. I didn't think about being kicked, or screamed at, or bled on, or bit. I thought about children - laughing children, reading children, learning children. Children in a school where I'm making a difference one day at a time.
But on Monday . . .