The Herdmans Part 5-2

. . . . . . . . . . . . . continued from Feb 19

With my hands above my head, I started to giggle.

Billy opened the door again and yelled, “The principal’s laughing at me.”

I put my hands down. “Billy, I am not laughing at you, I am laughing at this situation. Think about it, this is so bizarre it’s funny.”

Billy simply stared at me.

I continued, “You know Billy, I hope to write a book someday. It will be about my experiences in the classroom and as a principal. If I ever do write a book, I am going to devote an entire chapter to you. I will change your name but it WILL BE about you. You know, every time you open that door and yell something, it gives me more stuff for my book. Now, I am NOT asking you to open the door and yell some more, but if you do it will just make my book all the better.”

Remember, controlling the situation was the game Billy was playing. He just realized that I, in fact, had control. With each of his outbursts it was I who was benefiting. It shut him down.

A few minutes later he declared that he was ready to go to class, and it was obvious he was. For the rest of the day he was a good and cooperative student.


There are those who would say, “WHAT? He got away with all of that? He said those things about you and didn’t receive a consequence?

In this case, yes he did. Of course, there is so much more to this story.

When students misbehave it is for one of four reasons: attention, revenge, control or lack of control. For Billy, his misbehaviours were rooted in his desperate need to be in control. We were sorry for his experiences growing up and the challenges he faced. We were counting on Family and Community Services to give him and his family the support and counselling they needed, but Billy had to accept the fact that his teachers were in control of the school setting.

Prior to this event, we agreed that we would try, what I referred to as, the Grand Experiment. Shy of a capital crime, Billy could say and do whatever he wanted and not be sent home. You see, that’s what he wanted – he WANTED to be sent home. He had to understand that if he was sent home it was because it was OUR choice – not his. It was a hurdle we had to get over.

We hoped that once we gained Billy’s trust, he would have fewer episodes. That was the gamble, anyway. And yes, there were some teachers who thought I was a fool.

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