Saturday, November 2, 2013

Controlling what we can control

Recently I sat down with a parent in my office.  This actually occurs quite frequently, but this one was unique.  Prior to the meeting I had contacted the parent with specific concerns.  The parent "pushed back".  Unfortunately the parent chose to make things "personal".  I was in one of those modes where I wasn't going to take it.  We've all been there, you take and take and take and then you break!  I was very constructive, but I did not take it!  This prompted a sit down meeting, just the parent and myself.

A bit of background about me, I don't mind deep, heavy conversations if I have a few things: 1)Background or Prior Information 2) The Facts 3) An open-mind, the ability to be constructive with the individual 

The meeting date arrived, I was in my normal routine of welcoming students out front.  It was a chilly day, the wind was brisk and the students could all see their breath.  I enjoy these morning, full of smiles and lots of energy.  I knew as soon as I finished greeting students things would become more tense. Over time I will tell you that these discussions don't become easier...but having all the information and a confident mindset makes a difference.

I warmly greeted the parent and we went into the office.  We talked for 5-6 minutes about her child.  I had heard this information before, but I knew it was important to simply listen.  I then conveyed what we as educators were seeing at school.  The similarities between home and school were eerily similar.  It was at this point that the "AHA" moment occurred.

The parent said to me, "I don't know how to fix this."  She then added, "We've been working on this for a long time and I'm frustrated just like you!"

It was at this point that I internalized that this must be a partnership.  It sounds so simple, but so often I hear educators place blame on parents or the home environment.  The truth of the matter is parents cannot fix every issue.  I was pleasantly refreshed when this parent told me that she's tried to fix this, but isn't making progress.  This could not have been easy for the parent to admit,  but she did.

The point is this, we must remember we can only control ourselves.  Our students are with us for seven hours a day, five days a week.  What happens outside of school is completely out of our control.

As I wrapped up with the parent I discussed "OUR" partnership.  We talked about working together and trying to problem solve as a team.  This is the critical piece, as educators we need to control what we can control.  Blaming and finger pointing will not accomplish anything.  I hope we will move forward with a mentality of partnering together for the sake of the children.  

I was reminded this week, parents can't fix everything...teachers can't fix everything...but together we can make a difference.

This week's big question:  Are you waiting for parent/teacher conferences to sit down with parents or are you addressing the issues now?

Next Week At A Glance:

Monday, Nov. 4th:  Tech Meeting at 1pm
Monday, Nov. 4th:  Chicago Trip Parent Meeting 6pm in Warner Cafeteria
Tuesday, Nov. 5th:  PTO meeting at 7pm

Wednesday, Nov. 6th:  Grades 3-5 assembly in cafeteria at 8:45am (This will be longer due to Beauty & The Beast Elementary Tour from 9:15-9:45)

Friday, Nov. 8th:  Veteran's Day (4th grade is headed to the Senior Center)

*  Still looking for someone to take over Student Council.

Articles Worth Reading:

Are Sleep Problems Linked to Attention Deficit Disorders?

Book Hounds by @cwdexter

iPads and Higher Order Thinking Skills Training +Dan Spencer @runfardvs

Social Media Do's and Don'ts for Student Athletes shared by +Michael Smajda @smaj40

Abolishing Award Ceremonies and Honor Rolls @joe_bower

Ready To Learn? The Key is Listening with Intention shared by @edtechcoaching

App Smashing with iMovie in ios7 @gregkulowiec

Is Your Teaching Replaceable? +Mr. Abud @MR_ABUD

Why Grades Should Reflect Mastery... @McLane_Ryan

Poisonous Truth about Control +John Spencer @edrethink

How to not crap yourself on the run @ShutUpRun (This is back by popular demand ; )

Dyslexia and Life by +Ira Socol @irasocol

Put What Matters At The Center +Tony Sinanis @Cantiague_Lead

8 Things Extraordinary People Give To Others +Marc Chernoff @marcandangel

Videos Worth Watching:

The Future of Learning... (Click on the Link)

This scene made me smile! (3 minutes)

Jack's Heat: Touching... (13 min)


  1. This is a great reminder that we can control some things; others not so much!

  2. I'm glad to read a happy ending. Happy being a partnership. It's vital to have that between parents and the school.

    You're spot on about only being able to control what we can control. Control (in education and elsewhere) has been on my mind lately. I just wrote a post about a few days ago called The Poisonous Truth of Control (And What You Can Do About It).

    Thanks for sharing this.

    - @newfirewithin

  3. Justin, thanks for commenting. The reality is, we can only control our reactions & attitude. I agree that a partnership is what is needed to help each child reach their full potential. I'll be sure to check out your post, thanks for sharing.


  4. Love it, Ben. It's hard when it gets personal and tough to rise above. Great reminder, as always. Well done!