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Redefining Discipline: The Hard Work



Andrew Walanski, a middle school principal in Southern California, shares an impactful moment in his job that represents a much larger issue in education. A growing divide in opinions on punitive measures has many teachers and staff standing apart from administrators. Andrew acknowledges the divide and stands firm in his belief that student behaviors must be treated as a statement of need and that schools need to be dedicated to students, even on their worst days.


Transcript:


Redefining Discipline: The Hard Work


"I have a girl who lost it on Friday, right? Like, absolutely lost. It was running totally triggered through the office trying to get after this other student that she was upset with that she wanted to fight. This is a wounded student.


So, I happened to be there at the time and I had to physically step in between, this young lady and this other student so we could usher the other stu

dent away, and we could work out the process of de-escalating the student.

And that's not an easy task, right? And that looks a certain way in the office, right? It was very public. It was in front of a lot of different people. And then I also have to come back and explain to my office staff about why we're not going to expel this student, even though we could have.


Right. She made physical contact with me. She yelled all kinds of things at me. Right. And why we're not going to expel that student and why we're going to take this approach instead. And that's not easy for the adults, right? If we're not able to meet the needs or if we're not willing to meet the needs of a student. Right.


We're not just going to dispose of them because it's easier, right? We're not going to look for quick and simple solutions. And that's really hard work, right? Because it's very fragile and delicate with the adults around. And it takes a lot of work for them to see that and be willing to deal with that and for legitimate reasons.


Right? Situations like that are scary. They're not okay. And, but that's what we need to do. That's the work that we're working on."


-Andrew Walanski



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