Taking Apart The Print Cartridge

In my new role as an Assistant Principal I often have the opportunity to work with students who act out for many different reasons. Instead of inflicting punitive measures against the child, I work to understand the behavior. I also spend time being proactive by trying to build relationships with students who have been identified as needing extra support and attention.

Building Trusting Relationships is the key to successful behavior growth for these students. Which in turn leads to academic growth. Relationship building takes time and intention. It starts with three  simple questions:

What’s going on?

How can I help?

What are you interested in?

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of spending time with a first grade friend ( I will call him Robert).We were working on strategies to help him calm down when he starts feeling tense,angry and about to blow.Some of our time together was spent with him teaching me about motor-cross and the difference between dirt-bikes and motorcycles. We printed off several different coloring pages of dirt-bikes that he glued into a new Dirt-Bike Writing Journal. It was only fifteen minutes but I know it was fifteen minutes that gave him an opportunity to be heard,valued and to see me as a caring, trustworthy adult.

A few days ago I received a call from his teacher that he was having a very rough morning she asked if he could come visit me. A few minutes later Robert was standing in the doorway to my office.

“Robert, it is so great to see you!” I said with big smile. “What’s going on?

Robert had a terrible morning at home and it carried over to the classroom.

Leaning in I gently asked ,“How can I help?”

Robert hung his head down and then slowly looked up and reluctantly whispered, “Can you print more stuff for my writing journal?”

“I would love to! Are you still interested in Dirt Bikes or is there something else?”

It turns out that Robert is also interested in Lego Ninjago guys. We found several characters he wanted printed off but the printer cartridge was empty. He helped me replace the cartridge. He wouldn’t let go of the old cartridge. He was studying it very closely then suddenly he shouted out , “Mrs. Duncan, Can we take this apart? I want to see how it works! I want to see what’s inside!

fullsizerender-19I had to say YES to that kind of excitement. Of course we can take the cartridge apart. I immediately found a screwdriver.Robert is also working on focus and growth mindset. He was so intrigued with taking the cartridge apart that he didn’t become frustrated when he had to try several different ways to get at what was inside the cartridge. He discovered springs, gears and plastic rollers. It was an amazing moment! He carefully saved the pieces and asked to bring them home.

fullsizerender-21Robert left my office with a big smile on his face. He was standing taller and had a sense of confidence about his abilities to focus and accomplish a difficult task. He was now ready to get on with his day.  The empty printer cartridge wasn’t empty at all. It became a tool that gave a student and myself an opportunity to grow in our learning and understanding about what truly matters in education.


4 thoughts on “Taking Apart The Print Cartridge

  1. Joanne,
    I have absolutely no clue about the Lego people but I can relate to the printer cartridge.

    This says so much about you . . .”The empty printer cartridge wasn’t empty at all. It became a tool that gave a student and myself an opportunity to grow in our learning and understanding about what truly matters in education.”

    Robert didn’t need any more negativity! Way to go! You were successful in your quest for valuing him as a learner!


  2. JoAnne, Beautiful Post. Thank you for spending time with “Robert” – he is lucky to have you in his life. I wonder how many more you touch on a daily basis.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s