Portage Township Schools

What does the dean of students do?

2012-12-22T20:15:00Z What does the dean of students do?Josh Wissing Dean of Students at Willowcreek Middle School nwitimes.com

Student discipline. That is the easy answer to what a dean of students does throughout the day.

As the dean of students at Willowcreek Middle School, I believe that I have a duty to do much more than just student discipline. My job is to help the principals, teachers, students and staff have a better experience throughout the day at school.

I spend the majority of my day talking and listening to students. I believe that with this particular age group of students the best thing that I can do is listen.

It is apparent to me that students in middle school really love to talk. There are many issues that affect the lives of our students, whether those issues are in school, with friends or at home. It is important that students have an outlet and feel comfortable talking to an adult about those issues.

When a student is sent to my office for behavioral issues, I believe that it is my job not to just discipline the student, give them a consequence and send them back to class, but rather to get to the root of the problem to try and impact their behavior at the source.

Every student that I come in contact with is different. Since every situation is unique, a solution to the problem may work for one student and not for the other. I have to be very versatile in how I approach each student.

It is not feasible to deal with students by having a checklist approach. I have to address each student differently based on my knowledge of that student.

I believe it is incredibly important for me to get to know these students in any way that I can. I have many opportunities throughout the day outside my office to interact with students. In the mornings when the students come to school, I am often one of the first adults that they see and I use that time to get to know the students on a level outside of discipline. I also get to spend time with the students at lunch and after-school events. My awareness and relationships that I build with these students is more important than just handing out consequences for unacceptable behavior.

Middle school can be an exciting and a scary time in the lives of our students. I believe that it is my job to help guide them on the right path.

I talk to the students about our critical values that are displayed in every classroom in our school and why those are important values that they need to have not only in school but in their daily lives.

The five critical values that we talk to our students about are to be honest, be respectful, be responsible, be fair, and be compassionate. If I can get the students that I interact with to understand these values, then their behaviors can mirror what these values teach them.

I believe that I have to be a positive adult role model that our students can see on a daily basis. I was once told at a very young age by a wise man that “little eyes are always watching,” and I have taken that expression and tried to live it out by my actions in my everyday life.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion.

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