Like most districts, we have posted our beliefs and core values, we have a vision statement and a strategic plan. And to be honest, like most districts, many of us have not internalized those statements. We operate from our annual School Improvement Plans and trust that our actions will reflect our beliefs and values.
Our posted Values include:
- Students as our priority;
- Community and families as our partners; and
- Our community’s acceptance of diversity.
Lofty, flowery language. Inspiring words. We talk the talk well.
As for walking the talk, we may need to consider adding a line or two.
One of our focus areas this year is training all of our staff in the Run, Lock, Fight program. Evidently, we also believe that some of our prioritized students, or partners in the community, are a threat to harm us. So now many of us are teaching behind closed doors.
For purposes of full disclosure, our posted values also include:
- Optimizing the highest levels of respect, responsibility and integrity for all; and
- Learning and working in a safe environment
I have internalized these more along the lines of the “safe environment” being built on the values of respect, responsibility; the emotional aspects of life more than any threat of physical harm. In other words, we will respect our students as learners, hold them and ourselves responsible for the decisions we make, and always work from a foundation of integrity. We will not harm them, emotionally or physically as learners, they will respect us as adults who always have their best interests in mind.
Just as I trust that none in our student body or community poses an imminent threat to harm us, I also trust that we will also do no harm to them through our indifference, pride, vanity, complacency, certainty, or lack of imagination and creativity. I trust that we always remember that great schools are defined by quality of relationships, not by test scores.
Continuing the theme of full disclosure, for two years while I was employed by the Department of Defense Education Activity, I was assigned to the Ft. Knox Community Schools. My primary title was Instructional Systems Specialist-Curriculum and Instruction. I was also designated the Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection Officer for the schools. The 9/11 attacks occurred while I was there. The Gold Depository was the target of an airliner that day, fortunately, that plane was grounded before it reached us. I understand how it feels to work in a place that many in the world refer to as “target.” Both our facilities and our people. We were trained to respond to both internal and external threats, and our training paid off both that day and in the weeks that followed.
We did not teach behind locked classroom doors.
Before we can unlock our classroom doors, we must unlock our attitudes, which will unlock our behavior.
Our District Leadership Team completed the Run, Lock, Fight training last August, before school opened. My session notes from that day started, with all due respect to Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix, with the following:
“There must be some kind of way out of here,
Said the Joker to the Thief.
There’s too much confusion,
I can’t get no relief.”
And so it goes…