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Humanizing Behavior

Andrew Walanski, a Middle School Principal in Southern California, shares a story of a student that he and his campus took a chance on - with outstanding results. The power of relationships, trust, and belief-in can not be overstated when it comes to helping our students thrive. Visit to learn more and Meet The Moment this school year.


Humanizing Behavior

"How do you humanize somebody who you know is triggered and running around and screaming and trying to fight somebody? Right? Um, 'cause it's really easy to dehumanize somebody, uh, in that way. We had a student, uh, who came to us at the beginning of this year who had a history of violence, right? Uh, a lot of really negative behaviors and things like that, and the school psych. And I, you know, at the beginning of the year, he sent me an email detailing why he thought that this student shouldn't be placed here at our school, um, and didn't belong, right? Uh, and listed all those reasons, right? That he was a danger to himself and to others.

And it was a little bit challenging at first, but we stayed the course, right? We didn't send him home. We didn't advocate for a, a change in placement to a different environment, right? We decided to adjust how we serve the student and how we handle and react to the behaviors or whatever it might be. Um, and now this student, he's like a fixture on campus. Like everybody knows who he is. He's on the broadcast with me on occasion. We've done some videos together. Uh, when you see our, our eighth grade class of 2023 picture, he's literally like right in the middle of it. And, uh, there, there are no more behaviors, right?

Uh, so sharing those stories and the possibilities, so people seeing those possibilities is, um, is really, really important. It comes down to humanizing one another, right? Because it's easy to create us and them binaries. Um, and we try to shift to it's all just us and we're all connected and we're all interconnected. Uh, or how do you humanize the student who, uh, go back to our student who, uh, the, the school psychologist said didn't belong? How do you humanize somebody who's, who spits at you and is trying to, uh, do these types of things? So it's how we choose. It's, it's a choice, right? It's a choice, uh, to, to create that willingness, like even when it's really, it's really hard and it's scary sometimes, um, but that we're, we're in it together."

-Andrew Walanski


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