Thriving School Psych Thriving Students

All Aboard the Principal Train!

I have tremendous respect for Principals. I have no idea how they do it. When I get assigned a new school, I do my best to get to know the Principal. Unfortunately, they are usually so busy that our interactions are brief and future interactions are usually when one of my students is in serious trouble. I have a hard time being a disciplinarian. I usually play the good cop to the principal’s bad cop.

Principal: Your behavior is unacceptable and now you will be suspended.
Kid: [some sort of denial, protest, or expletives and displacement of anger upon Principal ensues]

Me: You must have been really angry to brandish those scissors. What’s going on for you?
Kid: [some sort of honest reflection ensues]

See how good cop is so much easier?

My brother-in-law is a Principal of a high school in the Midwest. One night our family friend and retired teacher Stella, came over for dinner. Stella was a special day class teacher for a self-contained classroom of Emotionally Disturbed high school students in a poor part of town. Somehow, she lasted 30 years in this role. As the final touches of dinner were being made by my sister, Stella peered at a framed photo taken of my brother-in-law at a Train Museum. It was from the period of time when my nephew was going through his Thomas the Train stage. He was standing in front of a gorgeous, bright yellow locomotive.

Stella glanced at the picture and wryly remarked, “If I was a Principal, I’d put myself in front of a train too. Only I’d be standing the other way so I would know that relief was coming.”

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