Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The Chair of POWER!
From time to time I am THE PRINCIPAL for my building. At these times, there are no administrators, so it's just...me. Actually, I've done this many times and you just can't dread it, because it's so different every single time.
You know, at first when you are THE PRINCIPAL, you start to feel pretty powerful. You run around with the walkie talkie, shouting orders to the janitors, nurse, and secretaries (well, not really shouting, but I do adore using that thing). You see all kinds of discipline issues coming in the office. I like to sit behind the big desk and look all intimidating. In the building I work in we have teeny tiny kids, and we have gigantor kids (I have several students who are as tall, or taller, than me). When those little kids come in the office for the first time, they are scared to death. Their little lips quiver, their little eyes fill with tears, and all it takes is a very stern talking to. Just coming to the office is enough.
Then, when you start to feel like you might know what you're doing, and that you're in control, some big crap head who is taller than you comes in the office. The desk doesn't intimidate him, and neither do my meanest looks and sternest lectures. In fact, they reply something like "Whatever. I don't give a !@#$ anyway. Just give me ISS." That, my friends, is a GREAT feeling.
Or the phone calls like this:
Me: Hello, Mrs. Dumbass? This is Ms. Non-Mommy from The School of the Kids Have Their Way. I'm calling to let you know that this morning Johnny had an incident on the bus. Unfortunately, he chose to punch another child in the face and then poke him all over with a pencil.
Now, this is the moment that defines who you really are. You get one of the following reactions:
Mrs. Dumbass #1: Well, that just doesn't surprise me. I can't do anything with that kid. No one can control him. I gave up on him a long time ago. I keep telling my boyfriend to talk to him, because he needs a father. But Johnny doesn't like this boyfriend. I think it might have something to do with my recent break up with his old step dad. So I don't know what to do with him, either.
Mrs. Dumbass #2: Who is this?
Me: Ms. Non-Mommy, from The School of the Kids Have Their Way. I'm acting as principal today because Mrs. Head Honcho is out of the building.
Mrs. Dumbass #2: What the hell do you want me to say? I tell Johnny to defend himself. I'm not going to let some punk ass push my kid around. He can do whatever he needs to, and I support him.
Me: I understand your position, but unfortunately, Johnny went against handbook guidelines and the school is obligated to enforce the rules set in the handbook.
Mrs. Dumbass #2: You know, I am so damn sick and tired of hearing from this school about rules. When I was a kid, we didn't have all these rules. I guess you can put him in ISS, but I'm still going to tell him that he can hit whoever the hell he wants.
Mrs. Dumbass #3: Who is this again?
Me: Ms. Non-Mommy, from The School of the Kids Have Their Way. I'm the acting principal today while Mrs. Head Honcho is out of the building.
Mrs. Dumbass #3: And what do you say Johnny did?
Me: Well, Johnny chose to punch another child on the bus.
Mrs. Dumbass #3: I just don't think he did that. I know my son, and he would never do anything like that.
Me: I understand, it must be very difficult to watch your child make mistakes. I'm sure you understand my position, however.
Mrs. Dumbass #3: Well, I don't believe that Johnny did it.
Me: We have video directly from the bus of the incident. Johnny is clearly shown punching the other child, and has also confessed to hitting him.
Mrs. Dumbass #3: I want to discuss this with the real principal.
Me: I understand. I will ask Mrs. Head Honcho to call you back. It may be some time until she is available to call you.
Mrs. Dumbass #4: What?? I can't believe it!
Me: I know. It is very unfortunate.
Mrs. Dumbass #4: I just can't believe it. He's such a sweet boy. He never, ever gets in trouble.
Me: [Looking at his file, and the 16 office referrals he's had this year] I understand. However, Johnny has confessed to punching the other child, and so I will have to place him in ISS for the day.
Mrs. Dumbass #4: Ask any teacher in the building, or the principals. Johnny never gets in trouble.
Me: [rolling my eyes] Oh yes?
Mrs. Dumbass #4: I suppose you can't tell me who the other child was.
Me: I'm sorry, Mrs. Dumbass, I am not at liberty to share information about other students.
Mrs. Dumbass #4: I understand. It's just that I can't imagine Johnny doing that. I'm just sure he was provoked. Can you give me a clue who it was?
Me: I'm sorry, I can't do that.
Mrs. Dumbass #4: Was it Billy? Since first grade, he and Billy have never gotten along. Once Billy even sat on his Valentine box! Was it Billy?
Me: Mrs. Dumbass, I really am unable to share information about the other child. I just wanted to make you aware that Johnny had a discipline issue, and that he will be serving time in ISS for the day.
Mrs. Dumbass #4: Can you please have the real principal call me? I just don't think Johnny could have done it. Unless it was Billy.
(At the end of the day, all you can do is feel like you looked the part of the principal wearing a cute little jacket and big jewelry, and try not to despair at the state of our society.)