The Whys of School Shootings

Tragedies are becoming all too common in our schools. As I sit and watch and listen to the latest horrific tragedy taking place in Newtown, Connecticut, I feel mostly sadness. I must admit I also have had my share of “wonder.” I wonder why? I wonder what? I wonder when? I wonder how? I wonder where? I wonder how? I wonder who and how many?
The sense of loss across America is all encompassing. Not so clear is the path leading to the answer of the question, “what are we going to do about it?” There is a great deal of rhetoric taking place right now. We’ll see how much of it turns into positive action.
Most of the focus on this and all of the school shooting tragedies seems to be on trying to revamp the outdated second amendment. Considerable and important debate is ongoing about our gun laws. There are good arguments on both sides. I am not a gun owner but I understand both sides. Ultimately, part of the solution must be in better control of our gun laws.
However, gun law changes are only going to be part of the solution to this difficult societal issue. The real “whys” of school shootings can be found in people treating other people with compassion. It starts with parents listening to their children with an open mind and heart. It is necessary that parents be parents to their children. Parents must pay attention and take notice of their children’s emotions and understand patterns and changes for what they are.
The real “whys” of school shootings can be found in public schools training their teachers, counselors, social workers and administrators to understand signs of student depression, drug use, and mood swings. Public schools need to have more counselors, social workers and school nurses to help students who are having difficulty in their lives somewhere to turn.
We must begin by listening and watching the youth of today. They will communicate to us their needs. It is up to us to meet those needs. It is up to us to make them feel like they matter; show them they have value. Relationship building in schools for all children is the key to not only their academic success but more importantly, their social success.
Today’s youth are living in a vastly different world and society than ever before. There is much more uncertainty in the world on all levels. This uncertainty leads to lots of questions, and doubt in our youth. They may be the most talented generation yet but, if they feel as if there is no hope, there is no one who cares about them and their success, they will regress inside of themselves to a world of anger, depression and emotional turmoil. Eventually, they learn how to keep that all inside and then at some point it all comes out. How it comes out at that point in time will never result in a positive action.
If we want to understand the whys of school shootings we must first make a better effort on all fronts to better understand the youth of today and in that process we need to validate them and their emotions. Helping a few misguided students learn how to cope and feel valued certainly is better than teaching our entire country to cope with another school shooting tragedy.

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Olympics & Education

Sitting with my wife last night watching the end of another great Olympics competition and thinking to myself, “wow, the USA sure came through once again!”. They won events they were suppose to win & they won some where it was going to be close. The athletes even placed in some events where they weren’t predicted to place! All in all, the competition was fierce and through the difficult tasks and competitions our athletes rose to the challenges and made us all proud.

Our media tends to be critical not only of our athletes at times but our educational system and those people associated within it. We are beginning to slip in giving our youth of today a world class education, the scores indicate we are not competitive, we are no longer winning!

I believe we are winning in so many ways;way more so than in the past. We study how educational systems work in other countries just like so many countries study our system. There is good and bad in all systems but to think our system is “broke” goes too far. We educate ALL KIDS like we never have before! They ALL are learning way more than ever, and we still are producing many top scholars! Our students have better skills that will help them navigate their futures successfully. Test scores are only one slight indicator of our students’ academic abilities; these scores are a snap shot in time, one day of testing, good or bad. The tests cannot measure our students hearts! They cannot measure their passion & creativity! We produce the most well rounded educated students who can work with others collaboratively to solve problems in ways we have never see before. Much like our Olympic athletes they rise up and meet the challenges before them; believing in themselves and one another. Our youth of today and tomorrow will continue to be the leaders of the world in the future, no matter what the media want us to believe.

Go USA!,

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Olympic Thoughts

My fellow Americans, the Olympics are to be celebrated not berated! I don’t understand those Americans who belittle the Olympic games. All of the athletes who represent their countries are to be celebrated as the worthy athletes they are no matter what sport they are competing in during the games.

These athletes are the best at what they do in their respective countries, thus their right to represent their country. To be the best at anything means sacrificing what we “normal people” won’t, in order to make the time to put in the time and work to become the very best at what they do. Families who support their athletes also sacrifice time, energy and monies to help them achieve their dream.

Just watch the Olympians compete; what you see is tremendous focus, drive and skill. The stress they are under to perform to the highest level and win a medal is overwhelming. The emotions spill out both when successful and when being beaten. The slightest mistake can cost the athlete a place on the medal stand. This is why watching these superior athletes compete is the best!

I find myself glued to the television cheering on our American athletes, celebrating their successes and bemoaning their defeats. I admire each and every one of them for their skill and their work ethic to get to this point in their career. Win, lose or draw I appreciate them all and thank them for representing their country to the best of their ability.

Go USA!!

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Educational Technology

As a high school principal I do a great deal of reading in my field in order to keep up with the best practices taking place in educational programming, instruction, tools, curriculum, technology and so on. Each area in and of itself has a tremendous amount written about the best practices to be implemented. None more than “technology.”

I love technology. I believe it will continue to play a major role in our educational practices. However, we have seen technology burst on to the educational map in the recent past with the addition of desktop computers and then laptops. Both were to revolutionize how we teach and learn. Both were going to have a major impact on students’ academic achievement/growth. And yet, even though gains have been made they have not nearly been as large as predicted or hoped for by all concerned. Now we are entering into the mobile device era with the use of smartphones, and tablets in the classroom. What will be different? Will we have learned from our past mistakes?

The growth of technology tools, devices, software, apps, etc. is nothing short of amazing! One could sit for hours and explore the various app offerings trying to figure out which ones would be most useful to use in their instructional strategies. Then again, they would have to understand the app well enough to be able to use it with all students. Thus the need for the educational world to develop professional development around the best apps/devices. Then, curriculum must follow the training as these tools are embedded into student engagement consistently enough to really impact student learning.

Digital tools that are used to just engage students in their learning every now and then (when teachers can figure out how to best use them in their lessons) is to hit and miss; this type of implementation will not result in student achievement growth. It will manage to engage more students in the content which is a key piece that will help lead to improvement but it is not enough to use digital devices / programs / apps in this manner.

The education world needs to focus on a strategic plan when implementing the tools of the 21st century into their teaching and learning. One of the first steps is to not fear it but embrace it. If we are to truly prepare our students for the real world then we must change our pedagogy to reflect the ways today’s students learn best.

I look forward to being a part of this historic change in the way we plan and instruct our students. It is exciting to be involved with the changing of “how” we instruct. Moving from the sage on the stage to the guide on the side will indeed help our students to be more engaged as they learn to take ownership of their learning through the implementation of inquiry teaching with project based learning.

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Senseless Tragedies

I have been watching and reading about the latest senseless tragedy that took place in Colorado and like so many others I am left to wonder why these things have to happen. There is no rhyme or reason. Innocent people lost their lives and/or had their lives altered forever; all of us who care are left to contemplate the “why” and to in our own way make sense of this senseless act.

I know from experience a loss like this is a difficult moment to ever forget. I lost someone in a shooting many years ago. A young college student just “lost it” one night and created havoc in a dormitory. My cousin was shot in the back trying to evacuate the other students from the floor. He did not plan for this to happen; he reacted to a situation and put the safety of others before himself and paid the ultimate price. Our family was left dumbfounded and in shock. It is a senseless act that cannot be explained as to “why.” It just “is.” And we are left to make the best sense of it we can and move forward as best we can.

The same will be for those who have lost someone in this tragedy or had someone there who has been traumatized. Senseless acts have no rationale; they just are and those of us who are left behind must do our best to live our lives. It happens all too often… “Bad things happen to good people.” It happens every day in some way or another.

This is where a person’s faith is so necessary and valuable. Faith is the best way to get through a senseless act of violence against those that we love. I am praying for all those involved in this senseless tragedy, praying for them to have strength and compassion for one another. The only way people can get through these tragedies is with the love and support of family & friends.

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First Post

Blogging has always interested me even though I am not sure I should be involved with it.  I have many thoughts on many topics but am not sure sharing those thoughts with the world would be beneficial to my career.  Religion, sports, education, politics, relationships, family, money, society…all are easy to write about but, who would listen?

I hope with some research I will better understand this communication tool, called “blogging” so that I will use it properly both for myself and hopefully in a meaningful way for others.  I believe communication is the key to all things so “blogging” should be a positive outlet that allows me to learn from myself and others. I look forward to writing, sharing and reading blogs as I figure out the uses of blogging.

Until then, stay well.

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