They say, “Where there is smoke, there is fire.” So, let’s apply that metaphor to this scenario:
I like to believe that most educators want what is best for students. Sometimes, this isn’t the case, however. The creed of “Kids First!” or “Students First!” is important and our students deal with fires that we, sometimes, cannot possibly imagine. It can be very challenging being a kid today and whatever the backgrounds that our students come to us with, we love them all and want to help them all. I get that. I really do. And, I agree.
But, then, there are the educators who might be dealing with all sorts of “smoke” within our systems. If we don’t recognize that fires can start when educators are not taken care of by the systems that are supposed to stand up and protect our educators, the entire “building” would essentially burn down, wouldn’t it? All because we didn't stop the smoke.
If there is a cause and effect situation that takes place within our system of student and adult learners, why doesn’t someone come out and say, “Educators First!” or “Teachers First!” or “Principals First!” Well, it’s probably because we don’t want to sound egotistical OR be characterized as not liking kids. Yet, we all know that if we don’t recognize where we can get better with helping our staff members and faculty across the globe, our students will suffer greatly. The fact remains that if we do not promote safe, emotionally healthy, and professional environments for our educators, they will not be able to put “Kids First!”, anyway.
As Rebecca and I speak to teachers, school leaders, parents, and even school board members across the nation, we know that there are incredible problems within our schools and those problems are being masked in more places than you think. We also know that when these problems are masked, smoke starts to fuel greater fires and when we don’t help our educators to become successful or prevail, students become the casualties when their teachers and school leaders suffer. Here are just some of those masked problems that we have uncovered in very dramatic ways even though they might sound common to you:
1. Workplace bullying.
2. Over-exhaustion and over-exertion of educators.
3. Unfair treatment or wrong-headed evaluative measures that penalize or are punitive against educators.
4. Unhealthy expectations being placed on educators.
5. Inequity of hiring procedures to secure the best staff.
6. The “I’m out for me!” mentality by those in positions of power.
School superintendents and school board officials have a responsibility to address these issues and not sweep them under the carpet. If we all want to get to a “Students First!” slogan, we cannot forget to take care of our educators when the above situations arise.
Without addressing the elephants in the room,
they will just continue to go on cracking shells and eating peanuts.
And that is not what our staff members or students deserve.
We invite you to fight the smoke within your organization this year so that it doesn’t end up engulfing your staff and students. We should all really be saying “Schools First!” because it is more inclusive of taking care of everyone.