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Archive for March, 2014

From the Back of the Bus

Now I’m mad.

That parent just walked in and accused me and the rest of the staff of being unprofessional, lacking discernment, and implied that were not a faith-based staff at all.  That hurt.  That was uncalled for.  And what did I do?  I just rolled over and let her rant.  I didn’t present myself as having anything resembling a backbone.  I didn’t step up and take her apart, pointing out the wanky ideas which were completely based on misinformation, her personal demands on how we should be doing things, and her own personal bad attitude.  I just rolled over and let her stab me in the heart.  I thought I’d given up on being bullied back in high school!  I’m such a wimp!  So now I’m just as mad at myself as I am at them.

So now what?  Do I go over to the other teachers and let them know what just happened?  Do I let them know that this totally unreasonable parent just launched an ICBM into our midst?  How much do I protect the teachers from the anguish this will cause?  Ugh.  I’m going for coffee and cool down.  I don’t need to face this now.

Or do I?  What if I’m not ready to face this?  What if word gets out (and it will…), people find out (and they will…), the teachers become aware, and they’re taken aback and feel hurt because I didn’t speak up right away?  How fast should communication be?  How slow?  Do I always have to have my head/heart in the right place before I speak?  Boy, if that’s the case I’m probably going join a monastery.  One with silence.

We all believe communication is important.  We can’t have any real relationship without it.  God calls each of us to guard our tongues, and I’m sure we all have stories where our words were not honoring to God or our position as teachers and leaders.  I hear stories from others all the time where silence was the chosen response, not because there wasn’t anything to say, but because the wiser path was to not say anything at the time.  But scenarios like the one I pose, cobbled together from several real situations over the years, make it clear that not talking, not following up, and not dealing with perceptions and mis-information and the messiness of people does nothing to bring redemption and restoration to relationships.  If “now” is not the time, plan for the time when it will be right.  I’ve often taken days (and sometimes weeks) to get my heart in the right place before asking to meet with the parent/teacher/supporter and facing the issue.  “For out of the heart the mouth speaks”.    Heart/head, then mouth.

So how do you deal with these issues?  When do you communicate to the others who may be affected?  How do you communicate?  Memo?  Email?  Call a special meeting and hope that most of your part-time teachers can make it?  When do you involve your Board?  There’s probably not a formula for this.  The point is, we have to do it, after much prayer and thought.

Coffee’s gone, I’m not curled up in the fetal position anymore, I feel better… so now I have a phone call to make.


Jim Buss, principal Ebenezer Christian School


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