My church community group recently finished reading Galatians for You by Timothy Keller. While I wouldn’t usually decide to read a commentary book by my lonesome, I do like reading them with a group because I like the extra insight that others bring to the table when we’re reading the same book then discussing it together. This makes me think maybe I would enjoy being in a regular book club, but I digress.

As you can conjecture from the title, Galatians for You goes through the Book of Galatians in the Bible, a letter from the Apostle Paul to the Church is Galatia. It’s interesting because Paul was such an amazing spiritual leader who used many strategies that we still use in modern society when encouraging others, but also offering constructive criticism. For example, when teachers call parents, we always start the conversation with a positive and end with a positive, but sandwich the “concern” in the middle. And guess what … that’s exactly what Paul does in his letter, too! The Church at Galatia has many areas that they are doing well in, but also some areas of great concern and so Paul shares those concerns with them sandwiched with encouragement. What an ancient and modern example of a great leader!

Working in a public place, I feel like you just never know what’s going to happen. Schools are especially crazy sometimes because as teachers and administrators, we are constantly working to please (and better) our students, who are essentially like our clients (if you were to think about schools in a business model). In this mindset, which is especially true in a city like San Francisco, where I have found that many students and their families feel entitled to perhaps more than we can honestly offer (at a public school level), it has become harder and harder to please these students and their families.

The other day, things blew up quite dramatically at my school to the point where the end result was a parent getting into an alleged altercation (alleged because it’s still under police investigation) with a student (unrelated to the adult) resulting in a student leaving campus in an ambulance. Then at the end of the day, family members of both sides appeared on campus in an attempt to fight it out. I, of course, did not see any of this happen in person. I was with my students (in both situations) in our classroom lights out and door locked hiding in the corner, per typical school lockdown procedure. As you can imagine, my students were a bit confused as to why they were sitting in the corner in the dark with their teacher. Ultimately I don’t think there are going to be any lasting effects on my students, but still … how scary!

Because, ultimately, who’s to say that something like this won’t happen again? No matter how much we try to “please” the students and their families, it’s not really our job to cater to their every want. There are always going to be situations where families and/or students are upset for whatever reason. The question is, how can we really make schools safer for everyone, including those of us who work there?!?