We all remember the story. It was Valentine’s Day in 2018. The tragic and awful school shooting that happened last year in Parkland, Florida. In all, 17 people died on campus that day, including students, staff and faculty at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.
One story within this unfolding tragedy captured my imagination. I believe it’s one that serves as a cautionary tale for those of us who lead students.
Criminal Charges Were Brought Against the Resource Officer
Resource officer Scot Peterson now faces charges over what authorities describe as “inaction in a mass shooting in Florida.”
You see, Officer Peterson had been hired to protect people on campus from such a school shooting. In fact, more and more security staff have been employed since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.
According to USA Today, “Peterson faces seven counts of neglect of a child, three counts of culpable negligence, and one count of perjury. He was at work on campus that day when the shooting started, and when he arrived at the freshman building the carnage was still in progress. The arrest warrant claims Peterson stayed outside, moving several feet to a position of ‘increased personal safety’ before six of the victims were fatally shot. The charge accuses him of “failing, declining or refusing to confront the shooter.”
How bizarre. This man wasn’t charged with doing something wrong. He was charged for not doing something he should have done.
What is Our Take Away?
Fortunately, you and I are not likely in such grave danger as we guide the students in our care. But like Officer Peterson, we are vulnerable to play “defense” instead of “offense” when it comes to our job. Guiding Generation Z, in a world full of social media, terrorism, polarization, angry parents, reduced budgets, cyberbullying, stress, litigation, and school shootings is not easy. In fact, it can be downright intimidating. Millions of kids today live lives that are too saturated, too sedentary, and too solitary.
- It’s scary.
- It’s uncertain.
- It’s overwhelming.
Just like Scot Peterson, we’re afraid. It feels too dangerous to act. What if we make a mistake? So, we just hide and wait. I see too many parents doing nothing. I see leaders defaulting to what they’ve always done. I see teachers merely imitating past pedagogies and coaches just emulating past emotional outbursts. Why? It’s too much work to change. We are satisfied with merely surviving. Here are four ideas to move in the right direction:
1. Initiate action.
We can’t afford to wait for someone to do our job for us. We must take initiative. We must make changes where we are not succeeding. Even if our solution isn’t strategic, taking a first step can lead to the right step.
2. Include students in the solution.
The best way to get buy-in from kids is to invite them into the problem-solving process. They will support what they help create. When answers are a joint effort, adults and students can both enjoy “ownership” of making life better.
3. Imagine the best not the worst.
I’ve noticed when I fail to initiate, it’s difficult to imagine life getting better. I see worst case scenarios inside my mind. Our best leadership will arise when we envision our kids at their best and help them see that vision too.
4. Inspire them with the big picture.
Finally, we must always act in light of the bigger picture. Everyone has bad days, including you and your students. I believe we must find ways to keep the “box top” in front of us and our students as we put our “puzzle” together.
Years ago, I heard a funny story of a police academy on its final day of examinations. The officer proctoring the exam described an overwhelming scenario for his class of trainees—complete with a bank robbery, a fire hydrant spewing out water, a person being mugged, a wild car chase and people screaming as they ran in every direction. Each cadet was to offer what he or she felt would be their response to this horrifying situation. The most honest answer came from the back of the room. The young trainee stood up and replied, “Remove uniform. Mingle with crowd.”
This is a decision we can’t afford to make. Let’s act now.
Order Now: Marching Off the Map
Inspire Students to Navigate a Brand New World
Leading today’s students often feels like being in a new country with old maps that don’t work. Understanding and connecting with the generation in this land is often times frustrating and draining. We need new strategies on how to march off our old maps and create new ones.
From decades of research and hands-on experience, Dr. Tim Elmore and Andrew McPeak collate their conclusions into one resource that helps adults:
- Inspire students to own their education and their future
- Lead students from an attitude of apathy to one of passion through metacognition
- Enable students to push back from the constant digital distractions and practice mindfulness
- Raise kids who make healthy progress, both emotionally and mentally, through their teenage years
- Give students the tools to handle the complexities of an ever-changing world
- Understand and practically apply the latest research on Generation Z