There are phone calls nobody wants to get. The mechanic who says your transmission is shot. Your brother wants you to help him move a pool table. The doctor needs more tests. The teacher would like you to come in for a meeting about your child’s behavior.
When I was in junior high my recently widowed mother got more than her fair share of calls from the vice-principal. I’ll admit trouble did find me time and again…and again. My mom was convinced that the school had our phone number on speed dial.
Fortunately, there were adults in my life who knew how to love a kid who needed some extra love and discipline. Today I’m thankful for the administrators and counselors who worked with my mom to set me on a needed course correction.
Sometimes those dreaded phone calls (other than the one about moving the pool table) can turn out in the end to be positive.
Recently I sat down with some middle school deans (today’s vice-principals) and asked them what they wish parents knew about the role that they play in the lives of students and families.
Here are the top 10 things middle school principals want parents to know.
1) Even really good kids can get in trouble at school – and that can be a good thing.
As young people navigate the changes and pressures of middle school it is easy to get off track. Just because a young person meets the benchmarks in reading and math doesn’t mean that they have necessarily mastered the social skills to deal with someone who cuts in line at lunch. The life lessons they learn during this time can be invaluable.
2) We are on your team.
Sometimes students believe that we are out to get them when we call home about a behavior issue. There are also times when parent may feel that we are accusing them of being bad parents. Neither are true. Our hope is to partner with you to help your son or daughter learn valuable life lessons that will shape their character and help kids be the best people they can be.
3) Most discipline situations can be handled with a little education and, if necessary, some sort of consequence.
“Here is why what you did was inappropriate and here is how we are going deal with it.” Kids are going to make mistakes. It is important for kids to learn from them. We can work with a kid who is willing to own up to his or her mistakes. When the situation involves a teacher or other student we want to help find opportunities that will help rebuild a damaged relationship. It is much better for them to experience this in middle school than when they are adults.
4) Schools are most effective with discipline when there is support from home.
If parents, schools, and outside services work together, we can solve almost any problem a student is having. If parents don’t back us up at home, we don’t stand a chance. Natural consequences in middle school are there to teach and correct behavior. If students throws food at lunch, they may lose the privilege of eating lunch with their friends for a day or two. Your support of the consequence helps us help your child.