Heathdale flower 10th November 2022

Partnering in the Tough Times

Sometimes conflict occurs between students which can be upsetting for not only students, but also for parents and teachers. The more open we can maintain connection and collaboration between home and school, the easier these difficult parenting and partnering times will be.

Heathdale flower

As parents, many of us have experienced the difficulty of when our child has been hurt by someone verbally or physically, whether it was a game that got out of hand, teasing that went too far or an argument that broke out. When your child comes home and their tears break your heart, you feel sad, angry and sometimes at a loss; you know your child so well, and you couldn't imagine them doing anything like this.

If you have ever experienced a situation like this, you will likely empathise with how emotionally hard it can be when the school are not able to tell you half of the story due to the privacy of the other children. It can feel like being in a plane where the pilot is locked away in the cockpit and you have no control over the situation. Meanwhile, your child is still upset, and this makes you more upset and possibly convinced that the other child/ren are mean and must deliberately be hurting your loved ones.

At Heathdale, we seek to build up trust in our partnership with parents, so let me give you a sneak peek behind the scenes of what would be happening at school in a tough situation like this.

Firstly, emails or phone calls or some type of communication would go to the Homeroom Teacher. Usually, the Homeroom Teachers manage 90% of all issues. If things are not able to be resolved or the issue requires it, more leaders will get involved to support, this may be the Head of Learning Module, the Deputy Principal, the Sub-School Principal or the Executive Principal.

Whoever is looking after the incident will conduct an investigation. It is important to note at this point that teachers are not detectives or police officers, so investigations balance on the basis of what probably happened. Other students, and often staff, are asked to give their own reports. These may be written, and this can be from a wide pool of people. This can also be tricky because this is based on perception and what people saw happen; there may have been a lead-up that was not witnessed. Unfortunately, sometimes it is hard to work out what has happened.

When the teacher believes they have the best 'truth' they are likely to get, the next phase is put into place. This is based on restoration and redemption and the Biblical model of Christ's forgiveness. Often parents are called. This can be difficult for the teacher because often parents want to know what the consequence is for the other child, and we are not able to disclose these things due to privacy. This may sound easy to say and frustrating, but it is unlawful for us to disclose those details; I often think though that I wouldn't want details about my children spoken of to others. We mainly try to use a restorative approach at school, using Peacewise from our curriculum learnings. This means we try to facilitate a place of healing between the students, which could include an apology letter, etc.

All of this can take time, and when you and your child are hurting, this can feel frustrating. Children are learning, and they often get it wrong in restoring relationships.

In my experience, it is very rare that a student acts towards someone in a harmful way without something else going on in their life. While this doesn't make harmful behaviour okay, there is often more happening behind the scenes than people realise. Children can go through so much: a family member dying, a health diagnosis, a learning difficulty, parents splitting up, on top of all their strange and insecure feelings that occur while growing up. It is hard to think of this when it is your child who is hurt.

All of this highlights the importance of seeking to live a life of grace that seeks to have empathy for others, and the partnering relationship between the Homeroom Teacher, school leadership and parents. Looking after your children and educating them from a Biblical worldview is a matter of trust, so the more open we can maintain connection and collaboration between home and school, the easier these difficult parenting and partnering times will be.

Please do reach out to your homeroom teacher at the earliest sign of concern so it can be managed together.