I had a very interesting conversation today about whether or not one can be too student-centered. The main point of the conversation boiled down to staff support or a lack thereof; listening to students (not agreeing with them, but just listening to them) versus staff support.
I struggle with this because I like to believe I’m supportive of my staff in regards to them taking calculated risks in the classroom, by helping to provide a safe environment so they can teach and students can learn, and allowing freedom to choose the type of professional development they need. In terms of discipline issues, the administrative team is working hard at being more consistent across the board. I use the phrase, “working hard” because with over 2300 students and six administrators, it can be a challenge. With that said, we are doing okay.
Now, I feel as if I have a fairly good rapport with my students and staff. I will take the time to talk with any student about any thing they want to discuss. Therein lies the problem. Based on today’s conversation, apparently feel that because I listen to a student’s concerns about an incident that may have occurred, etc., I am demonstrating a lack of support for my staff. I hear the student out, ask questions, and help them see things from the adult’s perspective and will then assign the necessary consequences. It takes more time, but at least the student feels understand and heard. The person I spoke with today disagreed with my approach and felt as I my actions are undermining the staff. Hmmm…
I’ve always been a student-centered educator so I struggle with the conversation I had today. If my staff feels like they are being undermined, then there is a serious lack of trust that will quickly erode our foundation. So, I ask you. Am I undermining the staff in any way by taking the time to listen to a student’s concerns? If this is a blind spot, then I definitely need to take care of this. I look forward to your responses. Thanks!