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When something is broken we try to fix it. Oftentimes, if the damage isn’t too bad, then we are successful. This is true with things. It is not true with people. And yet we go about our days constantly trying to fix the children that we serve. When really we should be focusing on making them better.

This may seem like a minute detail. But I believe the difference between the two is significant.

I currently spend much of my day working with children who have many social and emotional needs. Oftentimes when I go home I feel as if I have failed. The students that I have spent so much time and energy and love trying to fix, often come back the next day and repeat many of the same behaviors.

Nevertheless, I continue to keep doing what I am doing. Not giving up hope. But it is eating away at my self-esteem. Because I can not fix these kids. And I am one of the people who is charged with doing so!

Maybe I need to take a class or read a book or ask a colleague to figure out how to be more successful. The answer must be out there. Like the elusive piece at the bottom of the box, maybe I have overlooked something. Maybe if I just work harder I…


This mindset is all wrong! Children aren’t widgets that can be fixed simply by turning a screw here or placing a gadget there. There is much more to them that. And that is why we should not ever try to fix children and we should never think it is our responsibility to do so.

We can’t.

And we won’t.

These beautiful, complex, amazing beings that we spend our days and nights thinking about are not placed in our care to be fixed. They are placed in our care to be made better. And to be quite honest, whether we realize or not, I believe the converse is true.

What we do is difficult! And it easy to go home some days feeling defeated because we didn’t accomplish what we thought we should have. We hoped our mediation with the two angry students may have solved things between them. Well, it didn’t. We believed that the incentive we provided for the defiant child may have turned him around for good. No such luck.

So we hang our heads because we didn’t fix what we thought was fixable. We feel as if we have failed. Our energy and our confidence depleted.

We/I must stop this mindset immediately!

I am not going to fix kids and my job is not to perfectly piece them together as if I am working on an assembly line. My job is to make them better.

Better than they were yesterday.

Better than they were last week.

Last month.

Last year.

I can do that!

I think if I approach my days with this new mindset I will be much better off. I will begin to feel better about myself and what I accomplish each day. Because while the students I spend my days with are not where I think they should be yet, I do believe that they are getter better.

And guess what else?

So am I.



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Jon is currently the assistant principal in Dorchester County, Maryland. This is his seventh year serving as an assistant principal at the elementary level. Prior to becoming an administrator he served as a Math Coach and an elementary school teacher. During his ten years as a classroom teacher he taught first, second, fourth and fifth grades. During his sixth year teaching he earned Nationally Board Certification, which he held for ten years. For seven years he ran a Young Gentleman's Club that was aimed at helping young men reach their full potential.  

Jon received a B.A. from Furman University while majoring in Philosophy. He later went on to earn his B.S from Salisbury University while majoring in Elementary Education. Jon was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to student teach in New Zealand. He eventually received his M.A. degree from Salisbury University in Public School Administration.

Jon lives in Cambridge, Maryland with his amazing wife and two awesome children.

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Guest Sunday, 26 May 2019