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Perspectives and Problem Solving

February 18, 2014
By Perry R. Banse, Assistant Superintendent, Middle/High School Principal

Perspectives and Problem Solving

If you have ever watched the crime shows on TV, it is always interesting when they go to question the witnesses. While the core of the story is similar in many cases, the details can vary widely. Much of what a witness says is based on their individual perspective of what happened. People can be in the same place at the same time and see things differently. I was walking into church yesterday and someone said to me, “Wow, you’ve lost some weight.” I pointed out that I have lost 50 pounds over the past 6 months. Unfortunately, it was the same five pounds. I would lose it, than gain it back repeatedly. Did I lose 50 pounds? Technically yes, but not all at once. Again my perspective contains a core of truth but there is another side of the story.

From the end of Christmas break until Spring break, the doldrums set in at school. The third quarter is always the lowest in terms of student achievement. (This is a helpful hint for parents to keep up on RenWeb during this time.) It also seems that problems become bigger or more of an irritant during this time. It is truly our most challenging time of the year and it always happens. This is a great time to remember that there are different perspectives to whatever has happened.

We live in a “me first” society. Whenever we don’t get something the way we expected it, we ask for a manager or supervisor. (Sometimes we jump right to that level from the beginning.) We keep going up the chain of command until we have exhausted all of our options. That is how the business model handles it. At Indian Rocks Christian School, we are a ministry and try to handle our complaints in a biblical manner that is based on a passage of scripture out of Matthew 18. Our Parent / Student Handbook clearly outlines the steps that we adhere to when a problem or a misunderstanding happens. Below is a passage from the handbook.

Occasionally during the course of a year, misunderstandings or problems can arise between the teacher and a student, teacher and a parent, parent and the office staff, or any one of several other possibilities. School personnel at every level are committed to resolving problems one-on-one in a spirit of Christian love and respect. Indian Rocks Christian Schools’ policy for dealing with such situations is consistent with the teachings found in Matthew 18: 15-22 and Matthew 5: 21-24. Much prayer should precede any attempt to deal with a problem. Complaints or problems will be considered in no other way than prescribed below, unless they involve a specific disciplinary action taken by the School Team itself:

a. First, all questions, problems, or complaints regarding a teacher or other school personnel should be discussed in private with the person involved before anyone else is consulted.

b. If the situation cannot be resolved at this level through direct contact, it should then be brought to the Principal, if the Principal is not the person with whom the problem exists. This will result in a Principal/Parent/Teacher conference.

c. If it still is not solved at this level, it should then be presented to the Superintendent of IRCS in writing.

d. If the problem remains unsolved, it should be presented in writing to Chairman of the School Team who will assign it to the appropriate sub-committee.

I can honestly tell you that if parents will go directly to the teacher (or coach) with whom they have the problem first, it will be resolved over 90% of the time. There is always another side to the story that your student has told you. If you can sit down with your child and the teacher, a genuine perspective of what occurred can be discerned. Face to face works the best as email can be misread or misinterpreted (believe me I have done that before). For those rare cases where it doesn’t get resolved at that level, we are almost always able to get resolution when we all (parent, student, teacher and principal) sit together and discuss the problem. Many times parents say, “I can’t do that. I’m afraid the teacher will take it out on my student.” This is one of the advantages of attending a Christian school. We have an outstanding staff and each of them is here to serve. Believe it or not, they want the best for the student as well. They are reasonable and fair. They deserve to have their side of the story heard as well.

So in the unlikely event that a problem should arise, follow God’s steps to resolution and we all win.