Did I Get You Thinking on my First Post?
Updated: Aug 13, 2018
I don't want to present statistics or quote scholarly professionals in my blogs. I am sharing what I have learned with you; all my passion and experiences with children, school personnel, and families. Personally, I think it may be insulting should I try to prove (with statistics and references) that our schools and our children are in trouble today. I have been the "uncommon sense" guy for quite a while now --- ever since I witnessed our loss of common sense for very simple do's and don'ts and how to handle such do's and don'ts. Do you recognize the following issues have increased? Suicides by note or statements, school shootings, accidental overdoses, bullying, abuses with technology (texting accidents, cyber bullying, cell phone abuse), classroom disruptions, etc. I am sure there may be some schools out there that have figured some things out, but they would be in the minority. I am talking to the schools that have not and I am asking, "Why?" Why are you not figuring things out? There are so many strategies to make your classrooms, busses, hallways, parking lots, bathrooms, recesses, locker rooms, and cafeterias, safer and more productive. Did I miss any areas? if so, just include them.
First, the school leadership/district must provide and reinforce the routine commonalities before we get to addressing differences. The three examples provided below must become embedded within the school district culture. Everyone must know these through district-wide emails to staff and home, letters home, and teachers' stating to children at the beginning of the school year, during, and at the end of the school year. You've heard this a thousand times,"We have more in common than we are different". There is certainly truth to this statement so let's start here.
1) School staff, parents/caregivers, and children like to be and feel respected.
2) School staff and children like to be and feel supported and safe at school.
3) School staff, parents/caregivers, and children, like to be and feel successful in their role re: the overall schooling experience, i.e, the parent is proud of the child, the teacher/school staff is proud of the child and parent, the child is proud of him/herself, and the school staff are proud of each other.
*There are others; I'm just trying to get us off the ground and these three give us a simple start.
And now we talk about commonalities in the way we approach challenges as a team (teacher, school staff, parent/caregiver, child). Whenever there is an incident that requires intervention, the progress, or lack of progress, must be discussed soon afterward. The amount of time may depend on the incident in question. Many behaviors and problems just need to stop so there is not much time to have this follow-up meeting. Who is involved? The child/ren in question, the teacher/s, the principal, the counselor, the paraprofessional (if involving children with special needs), but most importantly the parent/s. Each situation may find others need to be there, for example, a bus driver, a maintenance person, a cafeteria worker, etc. There may be times when someone on the team cannot be there. Very few school incidents have the same dynamics, yet consistency in approaching most school-related problems proves helpful because all the adults and all the children know the serious issues will be addressed. Each child is different, their home environment is different, their teachers are different, school staff and leaders are different, yet consistency and familiarity of approach to problems bring a sense of stability and security in and of themselves. There will be much room for creativity after the commonalities become a part of the culture --- this foundation allows for creativity and often requires it for the individual nature and differences of all involved. You, your school, your parents, and the children, can get by without it, but at a cost; I believe we are seeing this cost today. Without a positive and solid foundation uncertainty and inconsistency reign. Ask yourself, "What is my district's foundation/commonalities?" --- things that every school staff, parent and child should know. If you are a little confused, it will make sense through following my blogs.
What behaviors demand complete/routine staff meeting/intervention? List them! Concerns of suicide, bullying (verbal and physical), any acts of aggression, uncontrolled classroom disruption and controlled classroom disruption, ongoing school failure (grades, social, fatigue, hunger --- define!). For example, when a child is at risk of failing a class, sleeping, not having lunch, isolating. Again, the parents, school staff and children need to know this. Consistency and familiarity bring forth a sense of stability and security vital when meeting the educational (academic, social, behavioral, emotional) needs of all our children. Whether it is acknowledged or not, the social, behavioral, and emotional well-being of our children are integral, inseparable parts of a child's schooling. They all have something to say about a child's successful schooling experience. Let me throw this at you before we end today's blog ---- success must be defined for each child. It's a great discussion with the parent/s, teachers and child. We'll start talking about the specifics of teamwork and discipline (to teach) soon as well.