Student Urinates in Principal’s Office
One morning, a 9-year old boy shuffled his way into the main office of his school. As he entered, the main office secretary asked him, “how can I help you?”
The young boy didn’t answer back, instead he proceeded to lift off his t-shirt, unzips his pants, and pull them down to his ankles, all the while maintaining eye contact with the secretary.
Before she could respond, the 9-year old boy yanked his underoos down and began urinating all over the main office floor.
The secretary was stunned — wouldn’t you be?
Everything had happened so quickly. The boy entered the office, disrobed and began peeing all over the floor within seconds. Following behind the 9-year old was a teacher assistant, who also was stunned and didn’t know what to do.
Both the secretary and the assistant were trying to keep an eye on the boy, while also not looking directly at his naked body. How do you provide supervision without supervising?
“Help me Principal” was all the secretary could say in a stern voice.
The time was 11:00 AM on a Tuesday morning. Not the typical routine for an elementary school main office. The lunch period wouldn’t begin for another 15 minutes, which meant that classrooms were busy with students doing assignments and teachers demonstrating lessons.
That also means, the main office is usually pretty empty and quiet.
But not this Tuesday.
Today, a 9-year old has his pants and underwear around his ankles and he is urinating all over the floor. A large puddle of yellow urine is forming in front of him, and starting to roll toward the middle of the room, since there is a slight grading change in the floor.
While the student continues to pee, the principal gets up from his chair, walks to the door of his office and witnesses the absurd behavior unfold before his eyes.
The secretary and teaching assistant avert their eyes for a second to look at the Principal. They are hoping he will say something or give them some guidance. After all, there’s no school policy for students who pee in the main office.
When the little boy finally finishes going to the bathroom on the floor, he turns to look squarely at the Principal. Instead of picking up his underoos or his pants, he decides to stick his tongue out at the principal and say “are you going to suspend me now?”
What Would You Do?
I know what you must be thinking, is this a true story?
Because this can’t be a true story, can it? Did a 9-year old really urinate in a the main office of a school building? Clearly, this has to be made up.
But I’m here to tell you — this story is completely true.
And I was the principal that watched this scene unfold before my eyes.
So now that you know it’s a true story — what would you have done, if you were in my shoes? Please put your answers in the comments.
Testing Your School Admin Skills
I used to be a principal and a superintendent. Now I do consulting packages with schools and businesses and I also run an online school called Leaf Academy.
I don’t really use this scenario a lot to teach principals and superintendents, since it’s so rare and uncommon. But I thought it was an important case study to provide you, since too many frustrated and overwhelmed teachers on social media seem to think that “no one” could ever understand what it’s like to be a teacher in 2023.
So I’m hoping by writing about this incident that more teachers and educators that see this post will start to trust me more when I speak on social media.
Because I get it — there are too many voices that like to criticize teachers without the expertise to back it up.
So what can you learn from this situation? And what is the big take-away?
Understanding My Background and Credentials
Before we dive into those learning lessons, I think it’s really important that you understand my background and credentials. And the reason for that is simply because there are a lot of people who do consulting in education, who never tell you where they came from.
Briefly, I started my career in the classroom. And my experience as a teacher was a nightmare. I felt disrespected, unsupported and taken for granted in such a way — that I started to question if people in education actually cared about each other?
I went back to school to earn my Masters in Educational Leadership, but I don’t want you to think that just because I have a Masters that I know what I’m talking about. Because the truth is, that I didn’t really learn a lot about education in graduate school.
So the relevant experience happens when I became a principal and then a superintendent. And the reason it’s more relevant is because I decided to take a different approach to my job and to my focus. Instead of just being a practitioner, I decided to also be an academic researcher at the same time.
And what you need to know is that academic researchers were very jealous of me. And if you want to ask why? The answer is because academic researchers beg schools to allow them access to real classrooms and real students. That’s because academic researchers write theories in Ivory towers that are 1,000 miles away from a real classroom.
But I was 10 feet from a classroom after I conducted research and wrote my educational philosophies. Therefore, I could field test every single theory I ever wrote and developed. And that’s why I know what I’m talking about and 90% of researchers and academic experts don’t.
What’s the Purpose of School?
Somewhere along the line, people have forgotten the purpose of school. So let me be very clear on this point. The purpose of school is to teach kids every skill and piece of knowledge they will need, so they can be prepared for life and also pursue their individual dreams.
If you want a shorter purpose, then maybe this one works for you:
“The purpose of school is to prepare kids for their individual future path.”
I need to ask you — is that what your school is doing right now?
And if you think it is, then I want you to keep paying attention to this article, because that’s why I decided to highlight this unusual incident.
How Do You Prepare a Student Who Pees in School?
I hope I’m not teaching people that students should use the restroom. That should be a given. Just because a 9-year old urinated in my office, doesn’t mean that every other student thinks this is acceptable behavior. In fact, this is the only time in 20 years of experience — that this incident ever occurred in my school.
The problem is I have a feeling that most people are going to have a very negative reaction to this incident. Would you suspend the student? Would you discipline the student? If so, what would the discipline be?
And longer term, this student is 9-years old, so what’s the academic trajectory for this student?
Do you think about academic trajectory?
Even thought this incident is rare and uncommon, this is still a student in my school. And you have students in your school that don’t fit the mold. You have students who are completely out of the box and that’s the point.
How are you handling your “out of the box” students? Are you giving up on them? Are you thinking about thieir academic trajectory? Are you preparing them for their future? Or are you passing them along like everyone else?
The data suggests that you’re passing them along.
That’s why there are students who read on an elementary level in high school. That’s why we still have students are functionally illiterate graduating from high school.
Those situations don’t happen when everyone is thinking about academic trajectory.
But I know you have excuses, which is why I want to hear them. Yes, I want you to write down your best excuse for why students can’t read, write or do math in 9th grade? I want to hear your excuses for why students feel the need to go to college because their high school diploma isn’t worth the paper its printed on.
I know this article is going to draw criticism. It’s ok. You can criticize me all you want, but the fact remains that I know how to educate your kids better than you do. And if that sounds arrogant, so be it.
But would you rather feel defensive, or would you rather find a way to help your students?
I decided to launch Leaf Academy because I was fed up with how slow the K12 system moves and how stubborn they are when it comes to change. Are you letting your stubbornness harm your students?
The truth is that I’m on the teachers side. If I wasn’t, then why did I spend a decade researching, developing and running the best teacher training/prep program in America. Why did I help nearly 5,000 teachers become Master Teachers in this groundbreaking 2-year program.
That’s right, every teacher that joined this program became a Master Teacher in only two years. And just for context, the NEA says it’s impossible for a teacher to reach that level in less than five years of experience.
So who knows more about teaching now?
I know my tone is assertive. I realize that I’m direct. But I’m also really honest. And honest and direct is a powerful combination. Don’t you think?
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Thanks for taking this journey with me and I look forward to reading your answers in the comments.