Energy

Energy

Energy gets a lot of attention

We’ve seen so much energy on display at school board meetings and on social media locally and across the country the last couple of years

Energy regarding mask wearing

Energy regarding school closures

Energy regarding vaccinations

Energy regarding LBGQT issues

Energy regarding books in libraries

Often angry energy

Wouldn’t it be something if we saw the same sort of energy directed toward the issue of school shootings? Do you think it might generate more action and urgency from state and federal leadership?

Schools and school systems will do whatever they are able to do to prevent school shootings: armed officers, redesigned vestibules, hostile intruder drills and training, buzz in systems, one click/touch 911 notification. Schools will eventually become fortresses, which is just a matter of time…but there is only so much schools can do.

We need energy, parental energy, to get meaningful results.

 

All Still Means All

All Still Means All

I read the recent guidelines from Governor Youngkin’s office regarding transgender students, parental rights, etc. It was interesting reading, but this paragraph stood out:

“Schools shall respect parents’ values and beliefs: Parents have the right to instill
in and nurture values and beliefs for their own children and make decisions
concerning their children’s education and upbringing in accordance with their
customs, faith, and family culture.”

Agree 100%. Parents should consistently and actively “… nurture values and beliefs for their own children.” That makes perfect sense to me, but what has never made sense to me is the FACT that, although parents come from all walks of life, often have vastly different ideas about how to raise children, worship differently, and have very different opinions about how best to educate kids, we still sometimes think that we are entitled to make choices involving other peoples children. We simply do not have the right to do that.

As school leaders, we are obligated to protect the rights of all kids and insure that schools are safe places for all. When the rules change from election to election, we pivot and adjust…but it is so very difficult to make those adjustments and still insure that ALL kids are have their rights protected and are shown the respect they deserve. We will most certainly do our best, but it won’t be easy primarily because we have so much diversity of thought regarding with is and isn’t appropriate.

 

 

 

Change for the sake of change

Change for the sake of change

I have a whole bunch of favorite quotes, and this one is among them:

“We do not make changes for the sake of making them, but we never fail to make a change once it is demonstrated that the new way is better than the old way.”  – Henry Ford

The summation of Ford’s quote should be the motivator for any meaningful change: how do we take the present condition and make it better? How do we go about initiating change knowing confidently that the new way is better than the old way? How do we do this?

I’ve interviewed a lot of candidates for administrative positions over the past many years, and the best answer anyone can give when asked “what do you plan to change?” is this: I’ll take my time, listen, understand the issues and culture, and figure out what needs to be changed before changing anything.

Second level thinking re initiating change: proceed methodically, listen even more, build trust, involve stakeholders and make them feel as though they are part of the change even if they are not.

My good friend Jake McCandless answered this way when asked what he intended to change once named the Superintendent for Lee Public Schools (Mass): “My clothes, every day.” Brilliant!

I’ve seen a lot of great changes during my past 32 in education, but I have also seen many disasters, usually because someone or some group was in a great big hurry. Stop, study, listen, be patient, and only proceed when “knowing confidently that the new way is better.”

 

 

More thoughts on the teacher shortage

More thoughts on the teacher shortage

Media has finally caught on to the fact that we have a national teacher shortage. A little (lot) late, but better late than ever. A couple of years ago, USED predicted that there would be a gap of 120K between the supply and demand for teachers by 2025, and between fall of 2020 and spring of 2022, 300K teachers exited the profession. That’s roughly the population of Pittsburg. Moreover, in one year (2020 to  2021), the number of teachers indicating that they are seriously considering leaving the profession nearly doubled (28% to 55%).

There are many reasons for the exodus, as stated by the teachers themselves: stress, being required to do things that have nothing to do with teaching, low pay, lack of appreciation, student behaviors, lack of administrative support, and dealing with difficult parents. The reasons why young people are less and less likely to become teachers are far less obvious, but I am willing to bet that these young people see how teachers have been treated over the past few years, watched what has been on display at school board meetings across the country, and witnessed the inability of our state and federal leadership to prevent school shootings, and choose to head in another direction. Who can blame them? When I got my first “teaching” job in Nyack, New York in 1988 ( I was a 180 day sub, but still a faculty member), I worked with people who had subbed for years waiting for a job to open up. There was a teacher surplus back then, but there were also NO school shootings, much less student assessment (standardized testing), and much greater respect for teachers. There was no such thing as social media, cell phones in schools, email, and voicemail. I don’t know if the additions of these things have made things any better or any worse for teachers, but I suspect they have made things more difficult.

There is really only one intended take away from this blog post. Here it is: there are no simple answers or “silver bullet” solutions to the teacher shortage issue, and if don’t all put our heads together and figure out how to deal with this issue, our students will ultimately pay the price. In fact, they are already.

Remember: there is not a single solution. Look again at the reasons given by teachers for leaving. Those reasons cut across several lanes. Don’t be offended, don’t point fingers, and don’t think that this is someone else’s problem. The problems belongs to all of us.

Student Safety and Security

Student Safety and Security

I am actively promoting this podcast because the information presented is so very important. Student safety and security is about much more than just physical safety. In order for students to feel genuinely safe in schools, they must also feel safe emotionally. Student mental health has been under attack for two years and part of our job is to address those needs as best we can, but these efforts involve all of us. In some ways, enhancing physical safety is easier than protecting it elsewhere. Student use of social media and cell phone usage can cause more stress, more anxiety, and more fear if used improperly and if not monitored.

 

http://www.fcps1podcast.org/

Welcome!

Welcome!

 

Welcome to 2022-23! We created a video message to help kick off what will most certainly be a great school year!

Transcript:

Welcome Back Message from Dr. Jeck August 2022 

Welcome to Fauquier County Public Schools! I’m beginning my tenth year as superintendent here in Fauquier County, and it is an honor and a privilege to serve this school community. And I can tell you, I’ve never been more excited about the beginning of a school year as I am today. 

The last two years have been very difficult. We’ve faced many challenges, but with every challenge has come an opportunity. And I’m very proud of the way our staff has stepped up and met each challenge head-on. Every opportunity we’ve experienced has helped us grow as a school division and as a staff. And I think, as a result, we’re actually better than we were before. 

But our goals have remained the same –  student safety and student learning. In terms of student learning, it is so important to us as a school division to figure out the needs of our students individually and meet those needs. In terms of student safety, it’s important for us always to be looking at ways to enhance student safety in each of our schools, and I think we’ve done a very good job of doing that. 

And I just want to say this in conclusion: in order to meet these goals and become better versions of ourselves, it’s going to take the entire school community. We’ve got to work together as a school community, as a staff, as parents, and as community leaders to make the school division even better than it was, especially coming off of two very difficult years. But I believe very strongly that we’re going to do it, and we’re going to continue to be successful and continue to be a great school division. I hope everyone has a great school year.

 

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