This week was one of the toughest I have experienced as an educator. It was a week that I had to say “I am sorry I can’t” and for me this is the hardest thing to do and the first time I have ever done it. I know that I will remember that day for the rest of my life and I hope to use this to motivate the work I do and to prepare for the next time I have an opportunity to change the result.
It started 7 weeks ago when my school was approached to take a student who had been excluded from another site. Initially there was reluctance from our leadership as past experiences in different settings had not been successful at all and the placement did not follow the usual process. I am extremely fortunate that my leadership is committed to supporting and maintaining the culture and atmosphere currently achieved in our unit, one which is treasured by all who work within the environment; our staff, students and their families.
But…….here was a young person. Yes he’d made some very poor choices, but several of my students had similar tainted histories when they came through our doors. His circumstances were far from ideal and I hoped we could give him the care and support he desperately needed. So I presented my case to my leader, had several discussions with my staff to ensure they were on board and we made the decision to take the chance.
Unfortunately the placement did not succeed and ended with acts of aggression and violence. I won’t go into details but to say that it came to a choice between the safety of the students who were established in our unit and seeking to make a difference for this young person.
The worst part for me is knowing he has faced another rejection in his life (of which he has more than a lifetimes worth). I know that he will experience worse challenges in the future and it is painful to let go knowing his life lacks positive role models or support. We were his strongest advocates and now we have said goodbye.
I know he will not be the last challenge we take on, but I sure hope he is the last I fail.