Whenever I start feeling good about using new technology I bump into someone like Kent Roosevelt’s High School Principal whose weekly podcasts puts my Blog to shame. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my Blog effort but I was really impressed with Roger raising the bar by offering weekly conversations that he appropriately calls “Authentic Conversations.”
It’s easy to be impressed with the way Roger manages the affairs of Kent Roosevelt High School and I’m told he’s equally impressive on a basketball court, but in an era when all those Disney movies portray Principals as out of touch and out of date, Roger shatters that misperception as he practices what he preaches about the value of lifelong learning by hosting his own audio show.
I admit I was late to the IPod game but in my absence Roger’s been cranking out IPod ready downloads on educational topics of interest for years. But don’t worry, you don’t have to have an IPod to listen in, Roger makes sure everyone has access to information, just as you’d expect from a seasoned Principal.
As a relative newcomer to Kent I have been continually impressed by the leadership exhibited at all levels in our school system and Roger is a big part of that success. From the Superintendent at the top to the teachers on the front line, Kent’s school system makes me proud to be in Kent.
But don’t take my word for it, check out Roger’s handi-work for yourself. Here’s the link to Roger’s Authentic Conversations.
Oh, he can write too which he shows off on his own Blog. Below is his winter message. If you can’t sense his passion for what he does, you might need check your pulse.
Our long, wonderful summer like weather ended as abruptly as the Cleveland Indians baseball season! The winds of November have brought rain and chilled temperatures at various times the past few days. The chilling effect is also noticeable in our attitudes and demeanor, having been positively sustained by the long-term warmth and sunshine. Human nature, such as it is, reflects the weather, but only for a while. We will adjust, as we always do, and take whatever Northeastern Ohio gives us in stride.
The beginning of November also signals the end of the first nine-week grading period, and many students are getting a “reality check” of sorts. Like the summer warmth, they have blissfully reported to parents that they are doing “just fine” in English, or Math, etc. whenever the inquiries were made. For some, cold reality hits them squarely between the eyes when grade cards come home. It happens every year. Allow me to revisit a theme I wrote about some years ago. It holds as true today as it did back then.
Generally most young people can do much better in the classroom. They are kids like yours and mine. When back-tracking to find out why their grades are lower than expected, we find missing homework, failure to do assignments, failure to make up tests or quizzes they missed, an abandoned project, etc. In addition, most of this abandonment of work occurs after interims have gone out. Somehow they have this idea that just being here “entitles” them to a good grade! Parents now have another “tool” to track their academic indiscretions via the Internet, yet other forces continue to be in play.
The lack of effort in doing class work is but one example where students feel they have a specific “entitlement” to something, while accepting no responsibility for their actions. I have heard this actual word, or the idea of, entitlement expressed many times the past nine weeks. It comes in many forms. A parent complaining that their daughter feels entitled to lie around the house all day and not attend school. A student couldn’t understand why they weren’t entitled to selectively go to the classes of their choice. A parent who believed their student should be entitled to an exemption from a rule because of who he was. Other parents pleading for help because their kid believes she is entitled to ignoring reasonable home rules. A student who felt disrespected by a teacher who said “no” when he asked to leave class just because he wasn’t interested in what was going on. Or the many students who have expressed to us that they are entitled to say or do anything they wish without any responsibility for their actions.
The list goes on and on, but my favorite is the shock that was expressed, some years ago, by my son’s classmates and their parents that he wasn’t extended some special entitlement, and actually served detention when he was tardy to school, received a failing grade in a class for failure to do the work required, and rode the bench on an athletic team. I have to stop and wonder at times, what have we done to some of our kids?
Our vision in the Kent City Schools is “We love and respect all of our students everyday. They learn skills that prepare them for productive and enjoyable lives.” I’m not sure we share a common understanding of what this means. If fourteen and fifteen year olds believe they have no accountability to their parents, teachers, or coaches, I’m afraid they are going to be disenchanted and miserable adults, or worse, ineffective parents.
I love my children, all adults now, and loved them throughout their school years, but I wasn’t their friend. I couldn’t be. That wasn’t my responsibility. I was their parent. If they saw me as a friend, great, but that wasn’t the primary mission of being a parent. It isn’t the primary mission of teachers, either. Building a strong relationship with our students is not about friendships; it is about caring deeply about their development. If they do not practice the skills of productivity today, they will surely be unproductive tomorrow. If they are of the belief that they should not be held accountable for anything, they will be absolutely disillusioned with the real world later on. It is our job, parents and teachers working together, to develop in them the tools for a successful future!
Love our kids? Absolutely! Love and respect them enough to hold them responsible for their actions. Love and support them when natural consequences occur, without interfering or experiencing guilt over their actions. What our kids are entitled to is all the love and caring we can give them, not accommodations or excuses for their irresponsibility, inappropriate behaviors, mistakes of judgment, disrespect, just plain silliness or. . . simply not doing their school work. Is there really any excuse for any of it?
With Thanksgiving almost upon us, I hope that this issue of the Branching Out finds your family basking in the warmth of love and happiness.
Office: 330-676-8710 Roger Sidoti
Home: 330-678-3381 Principal