Superintendent's Scoop - June 2020

They say it takes a village to raise a child and I am finding that statement to be accurate as I raise my own children. If you think back to your teenage years who were the grown-ups in your life who mattered most to you? And who most impacted you? It could be a coach, a teacher, or a family member. What do all those people have in common? Most likely they intentionally sacrificed for your benefit. They made it clear they were there for you. They were the ones pushing you to do things that you doubted you could.

Growing up can be tough. As children’s bodies and brains are changing rapidly, they’re also dealing with new ideas and influences that will shape who they become. Parents, teachers and other caring adults work hard to teach kids how to become knowledgeable and responsible citizens. As a parent or caring adult it is sometimes hard to know what it is that a child needs.

Josh Shipp is the author of The Grown-Up’s Guide to Teenage Humans: How to Decode Their Behavior, Develop Trust, and Raise a Respectable Adult. We have him scheduled to train our employees this fall. The main idea of the book is to help adults understand teens and teens understand themselves. He outlines seven things every teen needs to hear. According to a recent study published in Science magazine, adults say about 16,215 words per day. Here are seven phrases – each one less than five words– that every teen need to hear from you, regardless of their age or stage.

I love you. This is crucial. Always be strong enough to say this to your kids. Grown adults have said they have never heard this from their parents. If your teen doesn’t hear it from you, I don’t know whom he or she will hear it from.

I’m proud of you. As parents or caring adults, it’s important we applaud effort more than achievement because achievement is often subjective to the group we are competing against. So applaud and reward effort over achievement and let your child know you’re proud of him or her.

I’m sorry. Taking responsibility as an adult is important for our kids to see. We have to model what it looks like to be an adult and apologize when we make mistakes. And don’t cop out by saying, “I’m sorry, but…!” Remember that kids learn a little bit from what we say, a little more from what we do, but the most from who we are.

I forgive you. It’s crucial for young people to know that if you want to succeed, you must be willing to fail. They are going to mess up, it happens. The question is always this: What will you do when they inevitably mess up? When you say, “I forgive you,” kids know it’s okay to admit mistakes.

I’m listening. Once your child is a preteen or teen, the name of the game isn’t about control-it’s about influence. You can’t control a fifteen-year-old, but you can influence him or her by listening and asking questions. Lecturing doesn’t work as well as asking strategic questions and then listening; doing that will help teens come to their own mature decisions and beliefs about situations.

This is your responsibility. Don’t bail your kids out of problems they can solve. Instead, remain like a coach: prepare them before the game, cheer from the sidelines, and then review what went well and what went badly (also from the sidelines). If you fix it for them, they’ll interpret that to mean that they don’t have what it takes. Instead, be there for moral support and guidance, but let them take responsibility.

You’ve got what it takes. It’s important for them to hear from you that they have what it takes. If they know you believe in them, they’re better prepared to take baby steps to accomplishing their goals and dreams and facing those difficult situations.

Children are truly craving someone to be interested in them, to care for them, to be there for them, and to focus their time and attention on them. By using these phrases with our kids they will start to find meaning and purpose in their life and it will contribute to their overall happiness.

Josh Shipp’s motto is ‘Every Kid is One Caring Adult Away from being a Success Story!’ He says in his book, “being a parent is often a thankless job. Nobody hands out awards to good parents. You won’t be mentioned during the state of union address. There won’t be a lifetime achievement award given to you at the Academy Awards. But even when your teens confusing signals say otherwise, your voice is the single most important voice in their lives. And those moments when they’re honest with themselves, your teens instinctively know that they need your voice. Your voice is needed and crucial and matters more than you know.”

I do believe it does take a village to raise a child. As a parent, teacher, coach, or other caring adult we have the ability to be a child’s one caring adult. I also believe that having the right tools and knowledge is essential to helping our children find success in their lives.

August 2019 - Superintendent's Scoop

As the superintendent of a school district, I am given many opportunities to meet and talk to people from all over. It seems like every time I talk to someone; the conversation eventually leads to how busy their lives are, they are stressed out from the everyday responsibilities, and they just can’t seem to find the time to catch up.

The definition of stress for most people tends to focus on the negative feelings and emotions it produces. Our children are feeling the pressure as well, and view stress as a major component of their lives. It is important for us as educators, parents, and community members to teach our children that even though some situations are hard, there are ways to work through and de-stress.

2014 study by the American Psychological Association found that U.S. teens are more stressed out than adults. 30% of teens reported feeling sad or depressed because of stress, and 31% felt overwhelmed. Another 36% said that stress made them tired and 23% said it made them skip meals.

Although these statistics are alarming, there is hope. I recently read an article from the December 2018, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Education Update that identified the  Five D’s of DESTRESSING. These strategies are vital skills that everyone can implement in their lives.

The first strategy is to Distract from It. Stress can instantly trigger fight, flight, or freeze, our bodies naturally want to regulate our hormones and bring us “back to normal.” This is where a distraction can help. Taking a 10-minute walk, engaging in a fun activity, or listening to your favorite music are just a few examples. When we engage in something else, it can shift our thoughts away from the stressful rumination and allow our bodies and brains a chance to regulate.

Deal with It is the second strategy. Although we struggle facing the issue or problem we are dealing with, sometimes it is necessary in order to find peace and relieve the stress. Stress management is defined as taking charge of lifestyle, thoughts, emotions, and the way you deal with problems. By dealing with the stress we can face the problem head-on and find ways to apply conflict resolution and look for a solution.

The third strategy is to Dispute your Distortions. Sometimes a stressful situation is made worse by our thought patterns. All-or-nothing thinking: something is either great or terrible, with no in-between, or letting one bad thought lead to another. Psychologist William James said, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” If you find yourself in this situation it is important to recognize and reduce biased or distorted thinking.

Discuss It is the fourth strategy. Although it sounds simple, it really is one of the best possible things you can do. Talking with a supportive individual may provide new perspectives and ideas. This year, Sevier School District has hired five mental health specialists to work in our schools. These specialists will be a great resource and avenue for students who are trying to work through stressful situations.

The last strategy is Develop Frontal Control. The human brain is amazing and is built with an emotional control sector. It creates action to help you survive. Your frontal lobe-the logical processing sector- acts as the break pedal. It helps you evaluate your situation and take more rational action. Even though we can’t stop stress responses from activating, we can strengthen our ability to slow them down through deep breathing, mindful meditation, and other calming focus strategies, like counting backward from ten. When we practice these strategies, we are able to activate our emotional “brake pedal.”

Stress is a multi-faceted problem and can’t be entirely eliminated. Everyone including students, educators, parents and community members must acknowledge their role and work together to reduce it. It is vital to develop healthy habits, critical thinking skills, and problem-solving skills so that our students are able to face stressful situations with strategies for stress management and optimism for a bright future. 

To stay up to date with initiatives and strategies that we are working on concerning emotional health and support, check out our webpage www.seviersd.org or follow us on social media. My Twitter handle is @CadeDoug.

June 2018 Superintendent's Scoop

Superintendent’s Scoop

June 2018

Making a lasting impact in the life of a student is a very rewarding experience. Nearly everyone can name a teacher who has left a positive impression on their life in one-way or another. Students who receive support and encouragement from one-caring adult while in school can improve academic success. Our goal is to have all students feel as though his or her teacher cares about them, believes in them, and leaves a lasting positive impression.

Just like students, teachers need support and positive relationships. One way to provide that support is through instructional coaches. This year an equalization bill was passed by the legislature that helped provide funding toward hiring instructional coaches for each school. The funding for the instructional coach was calculated and allocated according to the school’s student count.

Teachers are lifelong learners always seeking opportunities to grow and searching for ways to become innovative in their classrooms. Instructional coaches work collaboratively with educators and help them become better teachers. They observe teachers teaching, go over instructional data, and model good teaching practices. No matter what age or how long a teacher has been teaching, there is always room for growth and new ideas.

Robert John Meehan said, “The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration, our growth is limited to our own perspectives.” Instructional coaches play a support role to teachers. When a teacher inherits the desire to improve and the relationship is built on trust, personalized professional growth for every teacher is possible. Students win in buildings with instructional coaches.

Cheryl Wright, an instructional coach at Washington High School in Kansas City said, “Having the culture of coaching is contagious and can spread to teachers at all levels of the career ladder. If you set it up so people see others benefiting from coaching and succeeding, and they see that the process is grounded in respect, then they [will also] want to try it.”

Our desire is to create a culture of feedback for every aspect of our school district. We know having these new instructional coaches in our schools will provide a bright future for our teachers and students. Teachers will have additional resources to make improvements and provide students with a positive impression–one that hopefully, they will never forget.

Reference:

Kim Greene, ASCD- Every Coach for Every Teacher, March 2018 Volume 60, Number 3

Inspire the mind, create a passion for learning, educate for success in life.


Sevier School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs. Please contact your school principal for further information.