The Herdmans – Part 2

Steve Lillico was in my R.O.U.T.P. division during my first summer in Esquimalt. Steve was from Grimsby, Ontario and was an arts major. One of the things that impressed me about Steve was how knowledgeable he was regarding world issues. He would devour newspapers and was never shy about sharing his opinions. I didn’t always agree with him, but I came to the realization that, on many issues, I didn’t even have opinion due to my lack of knowledge. Spending time with Steve served to remind me how little I understood about the world. Up until that time, I think the only interest I had in newspapers was the sports section. Now, when I sit down to read the paper each day I often think of Steve.

The Herdmans – Part 2

Students misbehave for four reasons: attention, revenge, control or lack of control. I didn’t know this when I first started teaching. It was about mid-way through my career before this became clear (more on the four reasons later). Of course, as a principal I was often dealing with student misbehaviour. More often than not, it was regarding a situation I did not witness; ie, it was brought to my attention by a member of staff or another student. The first thing I would attempt to do was to determine under which category the behaviour fell. Until one did so, one ran the risk of ineffectively dealing with the matter.

Not long after the Herdman’s arrived we had an incident on the playground involving the youngest of the brothers (the one I was warned about) – I’ll call him Billy K.   We had a student in grade 4 who, more ofter than not, wore fleece jogging pants. For some reason, Billy K felt the need to shank him; ie, pull his pants down. To compound the situation, the grade 4 student was a special-needs child. The experience was very upsetting for him and his teachers. Billy K was brought to my office.

“Hi Billy, I understand that we had a situation on the playground. Let’s talk – please have a seat.”

“No. I think I will stand.”

Now keep in mind, I am trying to size this fellow up. I know he has done battle with many administrators in the past. In my mind I am thinking about the four categories. “Actually, I have changed my mind. I prefer that you stand.” At this point he sat down.

“Billy K, as principal of this school I have decided that I want you to either sit or stand. That is my decision.”

At this point he got into a crouch and hovered above the seat. He was neither sitting nor standing. Control of the situation was now in play. I was now on the path of understanding him but this was just the beginning.


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