Dear Community Members,
In response to the current issue of school safety I sent the following email to our staff. I’m sharing it with you because it is an idea that should go beyond the walls of any school. Please read the letter and consider how you can also help another person, adult or child, who may be a “Shaken Can”.
Gregory J. Bailey, Ph.D.
Moscow School Dist. #281
I know the issue of school safety is weighing heavy on your mind, as it is mine. I’m glad that our nation is finally bringing this conversation to the forefront. However, it’s also disappointing how so many people are trying to simplify the cause and solution. It’s like someone thinking they can fix a totaled car after it rolled off a cliff by changing one tire. Mental illness, family breakdown, gun safety, video games, increased pressure, and the decline in valuing others have been named recently as probable contributors to this issue. I would just state they are all contributing factors, as well as many others I have not heard. However, I’m not writing for the sake of debating, but instead asking we as adults increase what we already do within our district, which is caring and nurturing our students.
When I was a principal, I stood at the front doors each morning as the kids entered into the building, and I also tried to stand in the hallways each passing period. The purpose was to watch for the “Shaken Can”. This was taught to me during my training as a Mandt trainer. The “Shaken Can” is the student who shows behaviors as they enter the building or walk the halls that may suggest they are not having a good day. They may be bumping people as they walk, looking down at the floor, or trying to isolate themselves from others. All signs, some even minor, may be the antecedent to a mental or physical outburst similar to a shaken can being opened.
Many times these “Shaken Can” students explode at the smallest issue. For example, when an unidentified “Shaken Can” kid is slightly bumped in the hallway and they retaliate by yelling obscenities at the student who bumped them. There can be many reasons for a student to be “Shaken”. There may have been a domestic dispute within their home the night before, homework not completed, or even a wonderful thing such as a new baby being brought home has caused the student to wonder how they fit within the new family dynamics. With the large population of students in our district, we cannot fathom all the different scenarios that may occur in each of our student’s lives. Even we come to work at times and are the “Shaken Can”.
I’m asking for all of us to be even more diligent in looking for the “Shaken Can” students. This is something many of us do each and every day, but occasionally we sometimes don’t take the time prevent it, but rather wait for the explosion and then react by disciplining the student or having someone else deal with the student. Some may even think it’s not their place to get involved. I’m asking not only teachers and administrators, but all of our support staff as well, to look for these troubled kids and take action rather than ignore the signs.
Please simply take a moment to ask a student if something is bothering them if they show any signs that give you the idea that not all is well. This preventive measure, rather than the alternative reactionary measure, will improve student/staff relations, shows the students you care, is quicker, and makes for a much more relaxing day for both you and the student.
The students in our nation’s schools are pleading for help to make their school safe. Our generation needs to hear them and step forward in helping them in feeling safe, and having a sense of belonging.
Gregory J. Bailey, Ph.D.