Working 2gether Tuesdays
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working 2gether is greater than being divided
working 2gether is greater than being divided
How To Mess Up The American Education System November 4, 2017
To: The American People
From: Michael Gray weareworking2gether.org in response to attacks upon the American education system.
School Teachers are a national treasure. They put in 60 hour work weeks to make better the lives of young people all over this country.
Also, I am in no way an advocate for charter schools (especially the for-profit ones). They bleed dry the American Public Education System and are the antithesis to the real solutions.
Schools are in crisis. Schools are not dealing with the root causes of why so many students are not doing well. Schools are also not dealing with the root causes of why even the students that ARE performing well are full of anxiety, stress, and depression. They aren’t happy! Even with their success!! Administrators, Counselors, Teachers, and Parents are putting bandaids on wounds that are deep, years in the making, and systemic.
Every day I preach, teach, counsel students and teachers how to mess up the system. The system of American education has let down our children, families, and educators. The systems of racism, sexism, capitalism, and anti-LGBTQ have created the environment of hopelessness, anger, competition vs collectivity, anxiety, depression. The system of American education pretends all day, every day that these systems don’t do what they do. It pretends that children come to school able to function at a high level. It pretends that if we just keep setting the bar higher that children with no stability underfoot can jump to reach the bar.
We keep blaming students. We (the American Education System AND the American People) need to look inward. The rest of this memo to the American People will focus on solutions.
Breaking negative patterns. Breaking negative cycles. We are daily up against what young people bring with them to schools, to organizations, to sports teams. Not so much what they bring with them in terms of materials, but what they bring in their mind. Not so much facts and academic content, but how they feel about themselves, their life experiences, their outlook on school and their outlook on their life in general.
Research shows that (depending on the neighborhood and school) 20% to 80% of
students come to school with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) symptoms. 49 out of 55 alternative high school students I worked with this summer experience PTSD symptoms with moderate to severe frequency. Students deal with poverty, neighborhood violence, verbal/emotional/physical abuse, parental absence due to working multiple jobs (or other more negative reasons), educational neglect (within the American Education System & at home), poor nutrition, etc... The symptoms exhibited are an inability to concentrate, chronic absences, poor work habits/inability to follow through, anger issues, inability to sleep/sleep too much, negative outlook on life, anxiety/panic attacks/depression, substance addiction/other addictions, and constant conflicts to name a few.
In many cases our students have had a negative outlook towards school since elementary school.
THEN THERE’S THIS
1 out of 5 young people have a mental health condition
1 out of 8 young people have an anxiety disorder/condition
1 out of 10 young people have a mood disorder/condition
1/2 of all lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14
THE AVERAGE DELAY OF ANY TREATMENT ONCE THERE IS AN ONSET OF SYMPTOMS IS 8 TO 10 YEARS
50% of students 14 years old and older with mental health conditions drop out of high school
70% of youth in state and local juvenile justice systems have a mental health condition/ illness
Suicide is 3rd leading cause of death in 10 to 24 year olds.
90% who commit suicide had an underlying mental health condition.
Suicides have tripled amongst 10 to 14 yr old females since 2007.
Suicides have doubled amongst 15 to 18 yr old females since 2007.
AND ALL SCHOOL SYSTEMS REALLY CARE ABOUT IS KEEPING UP WITH THE PACING CHART, HOW MANY STUDENTS ARE TAKING ADVANCED PLACEMENT TESTS, HOW MANY COLLEGE ACCEPTANCES ARE RECEIVED, AND HOW MUCH SCHOLARSHIP MONEY IS EARNED.
statistics from NAMI.org , adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression , Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, The Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety,
Kurt Fischer of Harvard University says:
“One of the most beneficial things that brain research
has done is it’s made it very hard for us to split
cognition from emotion. The areas of the brain most
involved in memory — the quintessential cognitive function — are tied to the emotion areas”
The education system has been neglecting what is needed to inspire/move students to be happy and significant for a long, long time. The education system has resisted pricking the hearts and emotions of students on a daily basis in order to inspire/move them towards WANTING to learn. The American Education System has created such a
competitive atmosphere amongst young people that even when they want to learn, they only focus on outcomes and not the joy of learning and living. I wrote a paper for my master’s program in 1989 on why schools are not nearly as effective as they should/ could be. Too product oriented. Too much testing. So many students of color, low socio-economic students, and especially African-Americans were missing “effort optimism”. The feeling that hard work was actually going to pay off in terms of the immediate as well as in the future. This “effort optimism” terminology has been replaced by growth mindset vs fixed mindset. We keep changing the terminology. We have been knowing what is needed for real change. We DON’T change the delivery of education...of knowledge.
IT STARTS TODAY
We need to take our teachers’ minds off of the pacing chart and allow them to put their minds on their students’ hearts.
This is a program (The Working 2gether Program) I developed using 31 years of experience as a classroom teacher, counselor, head counselor and using the brilliance of cbitsprogram.org, Dr Mario Martinez “The Mind, Body Code”, don Miguel Ruiz “The Four Agreements”, Dr Eric Thomas ET Inspires, and myself hahhhhh. This program is for all students at every school including all students that have an IEP and/or "special needs".
The program consists of:
2gether We Will Elementary School YouTube Channel
2gether Tuesday YouTube Channel for middle and high school students
Working 2gether Inc YouTube Channel for educators
Interactive E books with imbedded motivational/inspirational YouTube videos
“How To Mess Up The System” Leadership Class Curriculum
Conflict Resolution Program and Curriculum
Peer Counseling/Peer Assistant Training Course with Curriculum
You Can Do It 365 Student-Athlete Success System including interactive E books & workshops
WE HAVE TO SIMULTANEOUSLY SCHOOLWIDE and THIS HAS TO BE ALL ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS, MIDDLE SCHOOLS, HIGH SCHOOLS/DISTRICT WIDE/ STATEWIDE/COUNTRY WIDE:
*Having staff buy into this effort is of the highest priority...like life & death (which will bring it equal to their other priorities)
Each teacher, coach, counselor, administrator, and classified staff member undergoes mindset/“effort optimism” training. The materials needed are the interactive Ebook, The Conflict Resolution Curriculum (that can coexist with any type of restorative justice system), and the Peer Counseling/Peer Assistant Training Curriculum.
*PRICK THEIR (students, parents, staff) HEARTS
*Emotion (remember the Fischer quote earlier in this article) is where everyone involved in this education process needs to be affected. We must build up everyone’s accurate and positive thinking/ as well as their Effort Optimism”. This will never happen if they are not emotionally invested.
Using the previously mentioned YouTube channels videos, all parent workshops, homes, teacher professional developments, and student classrooms are transformed into places that “effort optimism” and growth mindset are developed and used. Using the interactive Ebooks, everyone can 24/7 continue their growth in thinking and acting accurately and positively.
*ACKNOWLEDGE (this is hugely important) SYSTEMIC DIFFICULTIES TO STUDENTS WHILE TAKING AWAY EXCUSES FOR ACADEMIC & CONDUCT “DEFICIENCIES”
Our students believe (in many, many cases rightly so) that educators do not understand what they deal with on a nightly and daily basis. The systems of racism, sexism, anti- LGBTQ, and capitalism (which contributes to the severe competitive nature of the American Educations System) all work together to create incredibly difficult lives for our students.
Use the “How To Mess Up The System” Leadership Class Curriculum with all middle school and high school students. This curriculum is designed to create understanding between educators and students on what students experience each day and night. It brings to the students a recognition by educators of what is pushing against them. At the same time, it is building the mindset of no matter your circumstances, there are proven ways to “beat the system” and create a happy life. The class transforms the negativity from being “beaten down” by their life’s circumstances into a positive/accurate thinking resolve that “I can make something beautiful out of my life”...no excuses.
The parent workshops use the same framework condensed into a 90 minute presentation that twists their desire to “fix my kids” into “I need to work on myself simultaneous to building up my children”. The skills for transformation and positive changes apply to grown ups and children alike. This strategy builds real collective energy at schools and within communities. Parents leave the workshop with real written down strategies plus the interactive Ebooks.
*BUILD UP THEIR ACADEMIC/CONDUCT PROWESS
After years of not believing their effort in school would amount to anything beneficial for them in their life, students are behind in skills. In addition to not being proficient in basic and advanced skills, students are proficient in compensating for skill issues with negative conduct. Now that we have helped them become emotionally invested in the happiness and success of their life, we can build up their skills.
Two weeks into the school year (this gives the school 2 weeks of effort optimism/growth mindset activities to set up this tutoring effort) is the time for schools to do comprehensive academic skills needs assessments for students. Based on these assessments and cumulative records, a massive school wide tutoring and mentoring program commences. Using teachers, peer “counselors”, peer tutors, college aides, and classified staff members, students in need of skill enhancement will have time/class period for tutoring and mentoring. The increase in academic skills along with the new “mentoring” relationships built through the process are a big piece of improved conduct.
*HAVE 100% OF STUDENT-ATHLETES BE ACADEMICALLY AND CHARACTER ELIGIBLE FOR 4 YEAR UNIVERSITIES.
Student-Athletes are many times (rightly or wrongly) perceived as leaders. Beginning in elementary school and especially in middle school (continuing into high school), we can show student-athletes and their parents the benefits of being academically and character eligible for 4 year universities. It’s all a matter of priorities and focus PLUS all of the above and subsequent strategies discussed in this article.
The entire “You Can Do It 365” student-athlete success system is based on being “regular student” academically eligible for 4 year universities. There is so much emphasis on court, field, pool, etc prowess in our society, it has diminished the focus on gaining knowledge and building character. The interactive Ebooks, the adjoining workbooks, and the parent process manual all work 2gether to give educators, coaches, students, and parents 24/7 access to motivation, knowledge, and inspiration regarding the process of becoming a college student-athlete. The workshops for the students as well as for the parents lay the foundation for turning the tables on the existing system. SIMULTANEOUSLY, THIS WILL CUT THE SO CALLED “ACHIEVEMENT GAP” IN HALF IN A VERY SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME.
*PROVIDE REAL MENTAL HEALTH ASSISTANCE
The statistics in the earlier part of this article show how we as the American Education System are truly letting down our students and families. There has to be a massive and precise system of finding students in need of mental health assistance and then provide the assistance.
cbitsprogram.org has a very simple PTSD assessment. I am certain there are other easy to use assessments based on self reporting. Through these results, we can truly begin to to discover all of our students that will benefit from mental health assistance. EVERY SCHOOL NEEDS A CARE CENTER/WELLNESS CENTER that is staffed by a counselor and/or school psychologist. This center will coordinate all mental health programs and help the staff. Once the students are found, a system of in school peer counseling, CARE center led groups, CARE center individual counseling, outsourcing to therapists/psychologists if necessary, and school wide mindset curriculum as stated in earlier parts of the paper will lead to a reduction in anxiety disorders/conditions. Parent workshops are designed to inform, motivate, and strategize regarding mental health conditions. We work to break down any stereotypes, break through any negative thinking about outcomes, and break up any notion that we as a school are not going to work shoulder to shoulder with parents on this issue.
Another program is the “Who’s Your Person” program. This program helps identify who
the adult or adults on campus each student trusts. The program also helps identify
students that have no adult on campus they trust. We use this information to speak with those students without a trusted adult and make sure they are; comfortable at the school, like being at the school, and discuss which of the adults they have met that they feel comfortable speaking with. We then match up students with peer counselors and teachers that agree to be mentors.
HAVE A SYSTEM OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND RESTORATIVE JUSTICE
Students and faculty need to have a system in place for solving conflicts, differences of opinions, and learning the skills for problem solving. This is a vital piece of the Working 2gether Program.
This program is always working to give power to students. There is nothing more powerful than students working together to solve problems. The Working 2gether conflict resolution program has been helping students and schools since 1993. Teaching students how to listen effectively, communicate effectively, deal with their emotions, and work through conflicts without winners or losers. This program works hand in hand with any restorative justice system that a school implements. Parent workshops teach parents how to positively work through conflicts at home.
The American Education System is ready for this change because the people (students, parents, and educators) are all ready for this change to take place...and take place now, no more discussion. Again, this can’t be incremental nor piece by piece. It’s all laid out. It’s all ready to put into action right away and simultaneously.
*Each teacher uses easy to use E book
*Each teacher uses easy to use curriculum
*Every parent receives E books & workshop opportunities *All workshops are available in virtual classroom form as well as webinar.
We (The American Education System) act as though we have all this time to make changes. Children are literally dying each day emotionally, spiritually, knowledge-wise, and physically. We need to treat the situation as the life and death situation that it is. Join us. It Starts Today!!
Michael Gray is a School Climate Enhancer and a specialist in pointing student-athletes in the right direction academically.