Revisiting the Introductory Challenge


As the materials in the unit showed, maintaining students’ (and also colleagues’) confidentiality is critical in order to satisfy legal obligations as well as to set the foundation for effective communication. Now that you’ve completed the unit, it’s time to revisit the situation presented in the Introductory Challenge.


  1. Re-read the setup and questions for the Introductory Challenge. Pay particular attention to questions 3 and 4.
  1. Read the examples of better and worse responses below.
  1. Try to come up with your own good responses to each question.
  1. Discuss your responses in your group or with a colleague or an interested friend.


Here are some better answers and some worse ones for questions 3 and 4:

Question 3 (better): Julia tells Marvin’s parents he was pushed to the floor, but not by whom.

Explanation. Gene too struggles with a disability, one related to his behavior. So information about him must be kept confidential. In fact, even if some other student—one who was not receiving special education services—had been involved, instead of Gene, not disclosing the name of the student would be a good idea!

Question 3 (worse): Julia calls Marvin’s Mom at work to tell her what Gene did.

Explanation. If Marvin is not injured, the family can learn of the incident later. Calling Mom at work would be inappropriate in any case: the teacher, principal, or school nurse (if there is one) should place the call if Marvin was injured, not Julia

Question 4 (better): Julia shares her thinking with Mrs. King.

Explanation. Forming opinions is what our minds do. But our minds are in control of how we treat these opinions. When Julia shares her thinking with Mrs. King, the important part is not the opinion, but the evidence for it. A back-story might include the fact that “bully” is a shorthand term for “someone who uses bullying behavior.” What should educators do about a bully? Eliminate the bullying behavior—which could become a goal in Gene’s IEP if necessary!

Question 4 (worse): Julia warns the principal that he should expel Gene immediately.

Explanation. “Warning” the principal is an over-the-top response—especially if Marvin is not injured (it’s like calling Marvin’s Mom at work). The over-the-top response is clearly above Julia’s pay grade! But, if the incident is part of a pattern of increasing abuse of other students by Gene, and if Julia is known as a reliable educator, the principal may decide to look into the facts behind Julia’s outburst (even though the outburst itself was inappropriate). Of course, many principals are not so forgiving! And Julia would be better off going first to Mrs. King and talking to her about whether or not to get the principal involved.