Do No Harm

Storytime At School

I went through the line at Dutch Bro’s this holiday, and in true fashion of their business model, it takes only seconds for them to ask if I had any New Year’s Resolutions. I sat back and thought about it for a second. I was thinking about the blog written by Beth Maloney last month, called, “All I Want for Christmas: A Teacher’s Legislative Wish list,” where she asked for what she needed from our legislation this year. Her first request was, “do no harm.” As I thought about this statement I started to think about my own goals for myself as this New Year starts, and it’s simple, “do no harm.” While her blog was written to navigate the murky waters of our legislative decisions. I have decided that it should also be my New Year’s Resolution.

As I enter back into the workplace after this amazing two-week break, I will honor the space my staff is at. If they are tired or struggling to be at work. I’ll support, ask questions, assume the positive, and stick to my resolution. It is easy for us as educators to dredge going back to work after a relaxing break where we were able to sleep in, and I will do no harm by emphasizing the place they are in and instead work towards finding collective passion and motivation for the work we do.

If students are angry, throwing items and punches. Or if a student is arguing to express their extreme frustration, I will “do no harm.” Instead, I’ll ask clarifying questions, set up extra chat sessions, check-in with students, and make sure to engage in the fun stuff. I will be sure to come from a place of supporting students and where they are at in their journey, instead of looking at only the place where they are right now.

If a parent calls and they are frustrated, angry and unsure how to communicate with their child and their team, I will institute a no-judgment space. I will listen, provide support and stay in a no-judgment zone. Taking time to get to the heart of what the problem is instead of offering up a superficial answer to a complex problem. I will not rush to judgment but instead, take the necessary time to get to all of the answers needed before coming up with a solution.

When I sit in a contentious meeting where teams sit on opposite sides. Instead of getting frustrated, angry and assuming, that the other party just doesn’t understand how to best support the student. I will ask clarifying questions, listen instead of responding and take time for pauses. I will again, ” do no harm.” I will take the time the meeting requires to sit back and really get at the heart of where the problem is.

While I usually do not create New Year’s resolutions because I have found in the past my New Years’ resolutions don’t last more than a day or two, this new one motivates me. It has helped me reclassify what I want to accomplish on my campus in 2020.

What is your New Year’s Resolution this year?


Dr. Austine Etcheverry

I started my educational career as a 1:1 paraprofessional for a student who was blind and had a cognitive impairment. After this amazing opportunity, I decided teaching was my passion. In 2007 I became a certified special education teacher and taught 5th – 8th grade resource. Throughout my career in education, I have held various leadership roles such as a technology coach, an exceptional needs coach and an IEP coordinator. Three years ago, I decided to begin pursuing my National Board Certification and was fortunate enough to achieve in December 2018. I currently have the privilege of being the principal in the Avondale Elementary School District at a school for students with an emotional disability. I have my own social media company where I write and create dental blogs. I have also had the honor of publishing articles in a dental magazine as well as published a young adult science fiction series. In December 2018, I became a certified yoga instructor and recently completed my Doctorate in Education Leadership and Administration from Aspen University.

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