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Monday Ideas for School Counselors

Weekly articles for school counselors with ideas on how to resolve typical school situations with students, teachers and parents using the solution focused approach.

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What Schools Must Do Now to Stop More Shootings

May 26, 20223 min read

On Tuesday, another school shooting occurred in my State of Texas. After twenty one people were killed, sadly, the questions being asked in desperation are the same questions asked after the other 288 US school shootings in 2022:

Why did he do it?  

Did he have a broken family? Was his father around?

What kinds of profiling are we going to have to do now to figure out who to watch for and get rid of before this happens again? 

How much more money do we need for mental health counselors so that we can identify the kids who might do something and keep an eye on them? When we identify them, what can we do then?

None of these questions and ideas are helpful. They are all problem focused questions and thus far, have led to no solutions at all, now, 289 times this year.

Instead of asking students, staff and parents: “What will a school look like in the future where school shootings never occur?” we stay problem focused on why shootings happen and lose. Then people die again, and again.

In a few weeks, things will slow down and life will go on. School will start in three months and kids will go back to school, to more police officers and vigilant administrators waiting to profile and observe students of question. Teachers will be even more scared of challenging, “scary” students and will quickly ignore and disengage them. Those students will react with disrespect and teachers will want them out. Students will be afraid of going to school and will be more anxious than they are now. The same climate where the school shooters evolved from will prevail.

Is anyone scared yet? 

The good news is that I believe that educators join the field because they love kids. I also think many of them feel helpless given the many personal issues that affect their students. Teachers are not mental health professionals, and they should not be! They are there to teach, and reach kids.

So, dear teachers and administrators, the ball is in your court. I believe you are the best equipped to make schools safe, without guns in your desk. But to make your school safe, you must get new skills that look like this:

  • Skills that help you to learn how to look beyond family issues at a kid who somehow got to school and engage that student so she begins to believe in herself.

  • Patience and skills that push you to engage with and get to know the most troubled students of all, like no one else has ever done before.

  • An ability to see an expert in every student, not just misbehavior and disrespect and once you do, you let that student know that he has potential.

In the United States there are over 3.7 million teachers. Imagine, three months from now, if those 3.7 million teachers were equipped with the skills that I describe above and a few more, and engage every single kid in their class, no matter what the kid looked like or acted like. 

Would you be as scared then?

There are actually schools like the one I am describing in Austin, TX (about 200 miles from Uvalde, TX); Johannesburg, South Africa; Israel; Budapest; UK; Canada and more. They are called “solution focused schools” because the focus is never on the problem. Practically all of the students in these schools are at-risk, or “throwaways,” as many of them describe themselves from other schools. Yet, every educator in those schools is trained to be “solution focused.” The approach is so effective, that there are NO discipline problems in these schools. Ever.

Every school can become a solution focused school. It is relatively simple, yet it requires shifting from a mindset of profiling, disengaging and being terrified of certain students to a mindset that seeks abilities. Teachers set out each day, determined to engage young humans who are in need of hope, and, it works. Eighty percent of the kids graduate, go to college, the military or tech school.  

Like these ideas? I hope so.

For more information on helping your school to become a solution focused school visit: https//solutionfocusedschool.com

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Dr Linda Metcalf

Linda Metcalf is the best-selling author of Counseling Toward Solutions and 10 other books. Linda is a former middle school teacher, all-level certified school counselor, licensed professional counselor supervisor, and licensed marriage and family therapist in the State of Texas. She is a Professor at Texas Wesleyan University.

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