Class of 2030 Missing 19

I call my husband. “Rick, there’s been a shooting at a Texas elementary school. Fifteen are dead.”

I call a second time. “Now 18 have been killed.”

When I hear the next report, “Twenty-one killed in mass shooting,” I cry. How does this keep happening? I pray for the families and all those involved. But that doesn’t seem to help. I need more information. I watch all the updates for days. Then it becomes a week. Now it is two weeks. I’ve never followed a school shooting like this before. Why am I obsessed with what happened in Uvalde?

I Most Identify as Grams

Years ago, I was in kindergarten class; a classroom sign read, Class of 2030. That sounds so far away. I will be so old. Today it doesn’t feel so far away. I recall my grandchildren in fourth grade. What would it be like to hear that one of my grandchildren was killed in a school shooting? I can’t even begin to comprehend the pain. There will be 19 fewer children graduating in 2030. This compels me to pray for the children’s families.

I Identify as a Mother

I have one daughter who teaches third grade in a rural community in California and another daughter who substitutes in a small town in Missouri. When I became a teacher in the early 80s, school shootings were nonexistent. It didn’t help when my daughter said, “Mom, everyone becoming a teacher today knows the risks. I thought about it when I choose my new classroom.” I’m compelled even more to pray for the grieving mothers.

I Identify as a Teacher

I was a high school and college teacher for many years. I think of the teacher who was shot twice lying in pain while the 10 children in his class were also shot and killed. I think of the teacher who left the door open. (This has now been changed). What would it be like to lie in pain in the silence for an extensive time? What would it be like to like to live with the thought that you gave access to the shooter and 21 people were killed? I try logic. He would have gotten in another way. But that doesn’t give me peace. I turmoil with the life-long consequences of witnessing your students killed or a simple mistake. How would I live with that even as a Christian? This compels me to pray for the teachers and the families of the two teachers killed.

I Identify as a Mother-in-law with a Son-in-law in Law Enforcement

Every time I see a police car I pray for his safety and the safety of others. Law enforcement officers serve others. It appears that mistakes were made that may have caused more loss of life. What would it be like to know that my decisions and the decisions of others prevented me from saving more lives? I’m compelled to pray for all the law enforcement involved in this shooting.

I also think of the shooter and his grandmother. That brings on another heaviness. I’ll write about that in another blog.

Ponderings

I don’t have any answers to all my ponderings. This all lays so heavy on my heart. I truly can’t comprehend the pain and suffering of all those affected by the shootings. I do know that I am compelled to pray. Compelled to pray for the community of Uvalde and for realistic solutions to preventing future mass shootings. The cost of this it way too high. Way too high.

 

Image Source: concept-retro-colorful-word-art-illustration-year-written-shapes-colors-204952191 [dreamstime.com]

Expulsions and Suspensions for Preschoolers

Last week I did an all-day training for an elementary sited called  Restorative Practices 101. It is a six-hour overview of restorative practices in schools with an emphasis on practical skills educators can use the next day. A state preschool teacher expressed interest. “I’d like to use restorative practices with my preschoolers.”

“That’s exciting. I’m reading more about restorative practices being implemented in early childhood programs. I’ll send you some ideas next week.”

It had been a while since I’ve done research on this topic, so I decided to see what’s out there before I sent her information. As a former early childhood educator professor, I was shocked at what I discovered.

In 2005, Yale researchers reported that preschoolers are being suspended at three times the rate of those in K-12 grades and that Black children were more likely to be pushed out of preschool.

In 203-2014, 6,743 preschoolers in district provided preschool programs received one or more school suspensions according to the U.S. Department of Education. The statistic didn’t include private or non-school district preschool programs who potentially also had suspensions. I’m anxious to read the book, No Longer Welcome: The Epidemic of Expulsion from Early Childhood Education by Katherine M. Zinsser coming out in August this year.

The Federal government released policy recommendations to reduce expulsions and suspensions in 2014 and updated them in November 2016. They are listed below.

Overview of Recommendations1

  1. “Establish Fair and Appropriate Policies and Implement them Without Bias
  2. Invest in a Highly Skilled Workforce
  3. Access Specialized Supports for Administrators and Educators
  4. Strengthen Family Partnerships
  5. Implement Universal Developmental and Behavioral Screening
  6. Set Goal and Track Data Towards Eliminating Expulsions and Suspensions”

Although I don’t disagree with the recommendations as far as excellence in early childhood, I’m not sure that they will truly address the issue of expulsions and suspensions.

“While there have been some encouraging signs — the rate of suspensions and expulsions fell sharply between the 2015-2016 and the 2017-2018 school years — the same stubborn, stark racial disparities remain. Black boys make up 18 percent of the male preschool enrollment, but 41 percent of male preschool suspensions, and Black girls make up 19 percent of female preschool enrollment, but account for an astounding 53 percent of female suspensions.”2

We’ve seen teacher training on positive discipline strategies, classroom management, social emotional development, and managing specific challenging behaviors. Some researchers suggest that disparities will remain until we focus on implicit bias.

I was able to send the teacher some encouraging news about restorative practices in early childhood but unfortunately no real reassurance on reducing expulsions and suspensions.

What do you think about the guidelines? How are they working for your preschool to reduce expulsions and suspensions?

 

Sources:

  1. Spotlighting Progress in Policy and Supports. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Updated November 2016. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/ecd/expulsion_resource_guide_11_4_16_final.pdf
  2. Strauss, New federal data shows Black preschoolers still disciplined at far higher rates than Whites. November 26, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/11/26/new-federal-data-shows-black-preschoolers-still-disciplined-far-higher-rates-than-whites/
  3. Image: Pumpkins and Preschoolers [Flickr.com]

Meeting Children’s and Teens Needs Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs After Covid 19 Pandemic

In the last blog post, we read that “Maslow before Bloom” is popular phrase in education circles. This means that our children’s basic needs must be met before they are ready to Bloom by learning. We also examined four critical challenges of children and teens created by Covid-19. Today we’ll look at the five hierarchal levels of Maslow and the dos and don’ts of meeting our children’s and teen’s needs so they can thrive in the post Covid-19 pandemic.

Physiological Needs

Needs that are biologically basic, such as the need for water, healthy food, air, shelter, sleep, clothing, and exercise.1 Free of toxic substances.2

  • Do try to meet basic needs first.
  • Do access 211 free referral resource line.
  • Do be educated about the signs of abuse and how to report.
  • Don’t engage in activities that are unhealthy for the body and the mind.

Safety

The need to feel physically and emotionally safe from harm and genuine threats.

  • Do educate yourself about the facts about the rate of infection in your area.
  • Do help your children and teens learn coping strategies and stress management.
  • Do get trained to recognize signs of more serious mental health conditions, like depression, and when to refer to counselors.
  • Don’t put pressure on yourself or others to achieve higher order needs.

Love and Belonging

The need to feel fully and unconditionally supported by someone else, and the need to provide such support and love to another. Friendship, intimacy & connecting with others.1

  • Do attempt to connect with others in your home daily through family activities.
  • Do attempt to connect with others outside of your home through virtual means such as FaceTime, group chats, and positive social media outlets.
  • Do provide opportunities for students to process their feelings to maintain their mental health.
  • Don’t ignore the attempts for connection from healthy members of your family.
  • Don’t assume that passive involvement in social media is satisfying social needs.

Esteem

The need to genuinely appreciate and respect oneself. Self-esteem, status, recognition, strength.3 Two types: internal esteem (such as self-satisfaction) and external esteem (public acclaim) needs.4

  • Do encourage family members and other peers in their current efforts at thriving in this post pandemic.
  • Do consider giving back to others who are struggling to meet basic needs.
  • Do find other ways to help students tap into their talents, improving and demonstrating their skills.
  • Do shoutouts to your children and teens for doing good work, for staying connected to their peers, or helping a peer, etc. Find something good to say about each child and say it publicly.
  • Don’t meet your esteem needs through others’ achievements, especially your children.

Self-Actualization

The need to become the best version of yourself that you can be. Pursuing one’s maximum level of creativity.1

  • Do help your children and teens find confidence to persevere through difficulties.
  • Do be creative about how you can give back to and help others who are struggling.
  • Don’t assume that all others are able to focus on their creativity at this time.

Back to the Basics

Parents can utilize the hierarchy lens to navigate barriers to their children’s and teens learning and wellness after the pandemic. Ensuring your children first have access to physiological and safety needs will lead to opportunities to feel connected and loved by family and friends. Once those basic needs are established, you can work with your children and teens to develop coping skills. Now that the basics have been met, your children and teens are ready to learn and grow.6

Sources:

1.     Corona Viewed From Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Why a public health crisis supersedes all else. March 19, 2020 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/darwins-subterranean-world/202003/corona-viewed-maslow-s-hierarchy-needs

2.     Quinn, Amy MA, MS, LMFT, COVID-19 and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: How Is Our Motivation Changing? April 20, 2020. https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/covid19-maslows-hierarchy-of-needs-how-is-our-motivation-changing-0420204

  1. Education Self-Care Grid During Covid-10, Westminster Public Schools, Division of Social Emotional Learning. For more information contact Melisa Sandoval msandoval@westminsterpublicschools.org
  2. Meeting the Needs of Children During Covid-19. https://www.mbfpreventioneducation.org/meeting-the-needs-of-children-during-covid-19/
  3. Gross, Helen, ASCD Guest Blogger. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and the Covid-19 crisis. June 9, 2020. https://inservice.ascd.org/maslows-hierarchy-of-needs-and-the-covid-19-crisis/
  4. Singh, Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” Becomes Even More Relevant in the Era of Covid-19. April 20, 2020. https://www.psychreg.org/hierarchy-of-needs-covid-19/
  5. Image: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs [commons.wikimedia.com]

The Case for Maslow Before Bloom

Abraham Maslow’s well-known theory of human needs fits well in the context of COVID-19. His theory is that human needs are arranged hierarchical and supersedes the others when ones are satisfied. Maslow categorized needs in a triangle format. Basic physiological needs are the foundation. The next four levels are safety needs, social needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization.  Children and teens must acquire the basic needs at each level before functioning successfully at the next stage.

Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy is also a hierarchical classification of the six different levels of thinking. Educators use these when creating course and lesson objectives.

“Maslow before Bloom” is popular phrase in education circles. It is typically used to communicate that before academic learning can be fully embraced, children and teens need their basic needs met.

Children’s and Teen’s Challenges Created by Covid-19

The critical challenges created by COVID-19 for child and teen well-being underscores children’s and teen’s distinctive needs, as well as the unique implications for policies. Let’s look at four challenges facing children and teens.

Higher Family Stress

The day-to-day lives of many families has sharply increased the levels of stress since the pandemic. Chronic or prolonged stress impacts children’s developing biological systems, especially in the early years. Healthy child development consequences can be both immediate and long-term.

Pre-existing educational inequalities are likely to exacerbate school closures and the change to remote learning. “The learning gains or losses made by children during school and Early Childcare and Education Centre (ECEC) closures vary significantly by access to remote learning, the quality of remote instruction, home support, the degree of engagement in schoolwork, and the overall attitude towards learning.”1

Greater Need for Mental Health Supports

Higher anxiety and depression scores of vulnerable children reported lower levels of well-being than before the pandemic. Direct surveys with children identified a deterioration in mental health, greater loneliness, and worries for themselves, their families, and their futures.

Children and Pandemic Burnout

Burnout is described as symptoms of emotional or physical exhaustion caused by long-term stress. Factors are making children vulnerable to burnout, such as unstable learning environments, prolonged isolation, housing insecurity, systemic racism, and various other factors. According to Dr. Earl, children, particularly those in “Black and brown”2 neighborhoods were left without the usual mentorship and support they would receive from their communities, families, and educators during the pandemic.

Greater Need for Support Among Already-Vulnerable Groups of Children

Certain groups of already-vulnerable children and teens are likely to have greater longer-term consequences from the COVID-19 pandemic. Vulnerable groups of children include homelessness, maltreatment, disabilities, children in out-of-home care, and children in the youth justice system. To provide needed levels of support. identifying vulnerable children will need intensified efforts.

In the next blog, we’ll look at each of Maslow’s levels and explore things we can do and not do to help our children and teens post Covid-19.

 

Sources:

  1. Dirwan, Gráinne, Olivier Thévenon, Jennifer Davidson, and Andrew Goudie. Securing the recovery, ambition, and resilience for the well-being of children in the post-COVID-19 decade. January 28, 2021. https://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/securing-the-recovery-ambition-and-resilience-for-the-well-being-of-children-in-the-post-covid-19-decade-0f02237a/
  2. Matthews, Dona, Ph.D. 10 Ways to Support Your Child as We Move Out of COVID-19. March 19, 2022. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/going-beyond-intelligence/202203/10-ways-support-your-child-we-move-out-covid-19
  3. Flores, Alissa. Pandemic Burnout: The Toll of COVID-19 on Health Care Workers and Children. May 21, 2021. https://phr.org/our-work/resources/pandemic-burnout-the-toll-of-covid-19-on-health-care-workers-and-children/

How Parents Can Model Apologies to Children and Teens

Modeling Apologies to Children

  1. Everyone makes mistakes; that’s life. Saying “sorry” to your child is not a sign of weakness, but of strength.
  2. When you’ve acted wrongly, admit it and apologize. “I’m sorry I yelled at you. You didn’t deserve that outburst.” 1
  3. Give yourself a do-over if appropriate. “Sorry, Sweetie, I didn’t mean to snap at you. Let me try that again. Here’s what I meant to say…”1
  4. Resist the urge to blame. Adults start to apologize and then excuse themselves because the child was in the wrong. “Sure, I yelled—but you deserved it.”1

 

Modeling Apologies to Teens

  1. Role model humility. You can reduce teen defiance in general by instilling core values like apologizing
  2. More relatable and accessible parents. Your teen is better able to relate to you by showing your teen that you aren’t perfect
  3. Teenagers are truth detectors. They will actually respect you more when you level with them and are sincere
  4. Increase teen’s honesty. Teens feel more comfortable about admitting their own bad choices or struggles when you admit your mistakes
  5. Resist the urge to blame. A specific word to avoid is “but.” Avoid defending yourself by saying “but” after you say “sorry.”
  6. Ask your teen, “What can I do better?” or “How can we avoid this problem in the future?” after admitting any wrongdoing on your part2
  7. Your teen feels heard. When you say sorry, you respect your teen’s feelings and demonstrate that you understand them. You don’t want to be a parent who puts them down
  8. Apologies lead to forgiveness. You are not just teaching your child about the importance of accepting responsibility when you apologize, you are also teaching about forgiveness

 

Sources:

  1. 5 Ways to Teach Children to Apologize. Ask Dr. Sears. [No date] https://www.askdrsears.com/topics/parenting/discipline-behavior/morals-manners/5-ways-teach-your-child-apologize
  2. Andy Earle. How to Apologize to Your Teen (and Why You Should). December 17 [No year]. https://thinkorblue.com/how-to-apologize-to-your-teen-and-why-you-should/
  3. Meiser, Rebecca. The Importance of Saying Sorry for Teens (and Parents). No date. https://yourteenmag.com/family-life/communication/importance-saying-sorry
  4. Image: teenager-1151295_1280 [Pixabay.com]

 

Five Parent Tips to Help Your Child and Teen Apologize

Parent Tip 1: Children and Teens needs guidance and patience

from you when it comes to teaching them how to apologize and make amends.

 

                     Parent Tip 2: Help your child/teen to notice how he/she feels about the situation or mistake and think about how someone else is feeling and what he/she might be thinking.

 Parent Tip 3: Ask your child/teen questions to get an account of the story and help the child process the event. Examples: “Can you tell me what happened?” or “I’d like to know what is going on. Maybe I can help.”

 

 

Parent Tip 4: Help your child/teen understand that taking responsibility means saying that it was his/her fault and he/she did something he/she should not have done.

 

Parent Tip 5: Help your child/teen make a commitment to change the behavior and make a plan to repair the harm and make things right.

 

 Sources

  1. Brill, Ariadne. Children Are Wired for Empathy and Insisting On Apologies Is Not Necessary. August 6, 2017. https://www.positiveparentingconnection.net/teach-child-say-sorry/
  2. Pointer, Lindsey C. Restorative Justice Facilitates Effective Apologies. May 30, 2016. https://lindseypointer.com/2016/05/30/restorative-justice-facilitates-effective-apologies/
  3. Image: dialog-tip-advice-148815_1280 [Pixabay.com]

What Do Children & Teens Understand About Apologies?

What Children Understand

A child who has never been apologized to won’t understand the apology process, and more than likely he or she will refuse to apologize, turning a potentially beneficial moment into a standoff with hurt feelings.

Children are born with the capacity for love empathy and understanding. According to Craig Smith, “Children as young as four can grasp the emotional implications of apologies.”1

Parents/caregivers often expect children to make apologies immediately after offending someone. But children (and adults) often need time to process their mistake before they feel genuinely remorseful and ready to make an apology.

Here’s a link to a three-minute video you may enjoy. Children’s Understanding of Apologies.

youtube.com/watch?v=tb8vM4mDdDk

What Teens Understand

Teens can learn and understand healthy behaviors and values without adults present because they are learning to function more independently.

While teens learn by making plenty of mistakes, they still need parents/caregivers to help them provide structure for that learning.

Teens are dealing with emotions that make them believe that anyone who is not their age does not understand what they are going through.

Teens are likely to feel remorseful, guilty, or uneasy when they make a mistake or cause hurt. Deep down they know they should apologize, but they may hesitate, afraid of appearing weak or admitting fault. Teens are more willing to apologize in the future with other healthy relationships when they see their parents/caregivers willing to apologize to mend relationships.

What do you think your children and  teens understand about apologies?

 

Sources:

  1. Smith, Craig. When should you make your kids apologize? The Conversation, November 1, 2017. https://www.cnn.com/2017/11/01/health/parents-ask-kids-apologize/index.html
  2. Brill, Ariadne. Children Are Wired for Empathy and Insisting On Apologies Is Not Necessary. August 6, 2017. https://www.positiveparentingconnection.net/teach-child-say-sorry/
  3. Craig Smith. August 27, 2008. youtube.com/watch?v=tb8vM4mDdDk
  4. Brown, Neil. How To Make Your Teen Apologize. July 13, 2019. https://neildbrown.com/17-blog/parenting/how-to-make-your-teen-apologize/
  5. Tucker, Jessica. Apologize To Your Teen (Yep, You Should). January 31, 2022. https://www.moms.com/why-parents-should-apologize-to-teens/
  6. Moriarty, Donna. The Importance of Saying Sorry for Teens (and Parents). No date. https://yourteenmag.com/family-life/communication/importance-saying-sorry
  7. Image: excuse-me-5079442_1280 [Pixabay.com]

Restorative Practices & Resolving Conflict: Affective Statements

Any time is the perfect time to try a new restorative response. Here’s how a Modesto City School teacher at Shackelford used the simplest form of restorative practices.

“When two students had an ongoing issue at recess, we started to resolve the problem using I messages. Although the behavior did not change right away, the students began using I messages on their own. The conflict was not resolved right away, but it was a step in the right direction.”

— By Cohort 2 Site Team Member, Year 3, November 7, 2016

“I” messages provide the foundation of affective statements. This Tier 1 response is the most informal restorative response and can be used with all students. Affective statements are the easiest and most useful tool for building restorative classrooms and relationships.

Simply begin with an “I” statement and provide additional clarification with a feeling and a behavior. It is a personal statement made in response to someone else’s positive or negative behavior. It tells students how their behavior affects you or others.

Below are two examples of common situations and possible affective responses.

Situation #1: Students are rough housing in the hallway

Affective Response: “I want everyone to feel safe here and I can see that what you’re doing is making some of the other kids nervous.”

Situation #2: A student calls another student a name

Affective Response: “That hurt my feelings and it wasn’t even directed at me. I’m wondering how what you just said fits in with the school’s commitment to respect.”

How can you use an affective restorative response today?

 

Sources:

  1. The Restorative Practices Handbook: for Teachers, Disciplinarians and Administrators, Bob Costello, John Wachtel, & Ted Wachtel, International Institute for Restorative Practices, 2009.
  2. Ed White Restorative Discipline Teacher’s Handbook. Page 16. [No author]. https://irjrd.org/restorative-discipline-in-schools/restorative-discipline-resources/
  3. Image: Cartoon Speech Bubble Clip Art [ux.stockexchange.com]

Restorative Questions and Reasons We Don’t Ask, Why?

What are Restorative Conversations?

A restorative conversation is any conversation that uses restorative questions in which an issue is approached with an open mind to:

  1. “Truly understand what happened
  2. Authentically listen and provide a space where everyone involved authentically listens to one another
  3. All voices are heard
  4. Focus on the impact the situation/actions had on others and the larger community
  5. Identify any unmet needs (especially for those harmed), and
  6. Determine what needs to happen to make things as right as possible moving forward.”1

Traditional Restorative Questions

The International Institute of Restorative Practices sells business sized cards that ask the restorative questions. Side 1 are the questions to ask the offender, the person who caused harm.

  • What happened?
  • What were you thinking at the time?
  • What have you thought about since?
  • Who has been affected by what you’ve done?
  • In what way have they been affected?
  • What do you think you need to do to make things right?

Side 2 questions are to ask the victim, the those affected.

  • What did you think when you realized what had happened?
  • What impact has this incident had on you and others?
  • What has been the hardest thing for you?
  • What do you think needs to happen to make things right?

Lecture?

A key reminder: there is no question number six that says, “Now give them a lecture.” It’s tempting to insert your wisdom into the process but it’s not your conversation. Trust that the process of asking the questions leads students to resolve the conflict. As needed, summarize the conversation and invite the students to reflect on what they’ve learned.

Why?

You may note that there is no question that asks why? There are several reasons we don’t ask, “Why did you do that?” First, it’s not helpful or relevant to resolving the conflict. Second, the students don’t usually know why. Third, if students dig for a reason it often ends up being a rationalization or justification which goes against the process of taking personal responsibility.

 

Sources:

  1. What are restorative conversations? www.healthiersf.org
  2. Image: why-1432955 [Pixabay.com]

Why We Don’t Ask, “Why did you do that?”

Have any of these situations ever happened with your kids?

  • Your preschooler colors on the wall
  • Your school-age child takes something from school
  • Your junior higher cuts class
  • Your teenager shoplifts

When a parent discovers one of the dilemmas above, the first question that spurts from his/her mouth is, “Why did you do that?” quickly followed by, “What were you thinking?”

Parents and teachers, here’s the answer:

They don’t know why they did that. Plus, your rhetorical questions aren’t meant to be answered. They’re simply disguised as an outlet for your anger.

Now that you know, will this profound answer prevent you from repeatedly asking, “Why did you do that?” Probably not, but maybe an explanation will.

The authors of The Restorative Practices Handbook explain, “Young people usually don’t know why they did something wrong. In all likelihood they    were simply being thoughtless or impetuous, without any reason. If we press for an answer, kids dig up a reason that usually sounds more like a rationalization or justification.” 1

The authors continue, “What is more effective is to foster a process of refection by asking questions that will get the misbehaving young people to think about their behavior and how it impacted others.” 1

So next time your child or student does something that angers you, resist the urge to ask, “Why did you do that?” In the next blog, learn what to ask instead of why.

 

Sources:

  1. The Restorative Practices Handbook: for Teachers, Disciplinarians and Administrators, Bob Costello, John Wachtel, & Ted Wachtel, International Institute for Restorative Practices, 2009.
  2. Image: Question mark 1.svg [commons.wikimedia.org]