Have you created a space where students are comfortable telling you that they disagree with you?

Hey Advocates,

I know. It's been a couple of weeks since the last Weekend Voice. Well, I'm back today with this week's thoughts. If you didn't know, I have two kids. My daughter (12) and son (9) are total opposites. I mean, like night and day, salt and pepper, you get the point. My son is more like his dad, quiet, introverted, and prefers to be by himself. My daughter, on the other hand, is more vocal, outgoing, and extroverted.

When I pick up the kids from school, Baby Girl typically does most of the talking and shares with us about her day. This week they were learning about various global religions. The teacher shared with the students an issue that occurred when a woman saw a man wearing a turban taking pictures. The woman was concerned and went and told the police. When the police arrived and approached the man wearing the turban, he told them he was an undercover police officer. 

What didn't sit right with my daughter was that the conversation around this situation...

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I've been there, but not during a pandemic.

Hey Advocates,

I'm at the airport waiting to board my plane back to Idaho. I had the pleasure of keynoting for the Ames School District yesterday. I noticed how fired up the school district staff was about the upcoming school year. 

I want to check on my school administrators. I found an article that said one out of two principals are considering a career change. Many administrators plan to leave within the next three years. I must admit that I haven't been checking in on my school leaders as much because many of my conversations have been around teachers. It makes sense that as a result of teacher shortages, there would be added stress on administrators to fill vacant positions.

My bad principals, technically, I forgot about you for a minute. Yesterday, I sat in a middle school library and engaged in a deep conversation with a room full of school administrators in primary and secondary schools. The topic: Dealing with racial slurs in schools. This is a challenge at...

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Here's what I hope you will experience...


Hey Sheldon,

As I wish you a productive pre-service week, I was thinking about my hopes and wishes for you. I know many of you are gearing up to return to school, and some are already back in school. There's something about starting a new year that seems full of possibilities and potential.

The last few years have been challenging, but we're looking at the 2022-2023 school year.

Here's what I hope you will experience:

I hope each of you receives support from your administration and your teams. And not just supportive comments but real, solid support. I've heard about principals, and AP's stepping in and taking a class, both so they can get to know their students AND to give a teacher a break. I hope your grade-level teams or subject teams have your back. 

I wish that none of you will ever feel that you can't take a day off for a doctor's appointment, a funeral, or a mental health day because your building is short-staffed. Please take care of...

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Is this the best possible way to recruit new teachers?

Greetings Advocates,

I'm just getting home from a trip to Arizona. I had the pleasure of keynoting yesterday at the Pendergast "Power Up" back-to-school event. As the educators prepared for the upcoming year, there was so much positive energy. Thanks for such an incredible experience!

I'd love to come to your school/district. If you are looking for a speaker, let's chat! 

I'm writing this reflecting on how quickly summer is moving - and recognizing that for some of us, the 2022-2023 school year begins in August, which is Monday! By mid-August, most school systems will have their professional days and, in some cases, will have students back in the buildings.

Why does this matter? I've been thinking about teacher vacancies lately and have written about them. I read something recently, and at first, I thought it was satire. The piece I read said that military veterans and their spouses could teach in Florida without a teaching license or certification. I know people who are...

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It doesn't sound like a lot, but that's 300,000 teachers.

Hello Advocates,

Today is the last day to join the FREE book club. You can sign up here.

I don't know about you, but the summer is just flying past. Here we are in July, and I know some school systems go back in August. This reminds me that I wrote about teacher resignations and retirements last week.

The Washington Post had a story on local retirements and resignations in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Check it out. The report included the remarkable fact that 3% of teachers in the U.S. were leaving the profession. It doesn't sound like a lot, but that's 300,000 teachers. It didn't mention support staff either. Think about that number in light of your school district or your local town or city. That's a lot of teachers.

I know that many districts are looking to fill positions. As I said last week, some are considering creative solutions, such as allowing people who have not yet completed undergraduate degrees to teach. Some districts are offering money to new teachers....

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Does anyone want to join me in the Gem State?

Hey Advocates,

I hope you are having a good summer. And, a nod to those celebrating Bastille Day yesterday. Also, Wednesday was my birthday, perfect timing for my book release 😊

Many of you know that I was disappointed that we did not take the opportunity to really look at our communities and do a reset during the pandemic. Well, the pandemic is not over. I have read that we can expect two new variants by the fall. Unfortunately, policies in some schools are not keeping up with our reality. In one school district, officials decided to do away with COVID leave, which means that any staff member who has COVID will have to take sick leave or personal days to stay home.

Imagine the impact that will have system-wide. You may have teachers coming to work while they're ill because they don't want to use up their sick leave.

I'm curious because I've seen different reports of teacher resignations. And while schools generally see significant turnover, this year feels very different....

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I hope you'll have the opportunity to decompress and enjoy your summer.


Greetings Advocates, 

The Weekend Voice took a bit of much-needed time off last weekend. And it turned out to be quite a weekend.

I was still processing the Supreme Court decisions and what they means to educators when I heard about the shooting in Highland Park, Illinois. At the time, I had not known that the area had a high percentage of Jewish residents and that the alleged gunman (who has confessed) went to a synagogue there. The head of security and the rabbi recognized him as a stranger, and he attended the service and left afterward. 

We've been hearing about mass shootings almost every week. No sooner do we recognize and process the horror, but we hear about another. 

The photo of a small toddler who was found wandering without his parents was the hardest for me after the Highland Park slaughter. It turns out that his parents were both killed on July 4th. The child was identified and is in the care of extended family. About a month ago, in...

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People tend to draw together when something like this happens, especially in a small community.

Greetings, Advocates,

By now, those in school have probably started your summer breaks - unless you're a 12-month employee. Whatever your status, I hope you enjoy some time to yourself to recover, reflect, and rejuvenate.

I don't usually do this, but I feel I need to issue a trigger warning for this post. A month or so ago, I wrote about the murder of 19 4th-grade students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. I also noted that the husband of one of the teachers had visited her gravesite and had a heart attack shortly after. He died, leaving their four children orphaned.

People tend to draw together when something like this happens, especially in a small community. And this has been the case in Uvalde.

From the very beginning, the role of law enforcement has been questioned. They initially said the gunman entered through a door that had been propped open, then they said the door was closed, but the lock was faulty. 

They said they were there as soon as possible but could...

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I hope your weekend includes some time celebrating you. Thank you for all you do.

Greetings Advocates,

Happy Father's Day Weekend to fathers, step-fathers, uncles, older brothers, single parents, mentors, and anyone who takes on the role of a father for a child.

I hope your weekend includes some time celebrating you. Thank you for all you do.

I've been noticing that with the recent school shootings, conversations have turned back to the topic of police officers in schools. To be clear, there are school security officers and police officers, some armed, who serve in schools. 

Since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, the number of police officers in schools has increased; however, school shootings have also increased.

While much depends on the individual students and their relationship with law enforcement, young Black and Brown students are often in trouble for behavior or disciplinary issues when there are school officers. The majority of school shooters have been young men who are White.

One suggestion on how to keep our students safe is to arm...

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We're going to need more than one single solution.

Greetings, Advocates,

I've been thinking about you all lately, inspired partly by a recent New York Times story that featured several teachers saying that this had been the most challenging year of their teaching careers. We will probably not know the exact numbers, but I've seen social media postings indicating that in some districts and some school buildings, 55% of teachers are leaving, whether it's due to retirement or leaving for other jobs. One Maryland district had trouble filling sub-jobs in the spring when 58% of requests for substitutes were not filled because they didn't have enough subs available. 

We all know that many teachers schedule their annual physicals, dentist's visits, surgery during the summer, professional development workshops, additional coursework for recertification, and sometimes curriculum development. 

This has been a challenging year in so many ways. What's missing? Family, rest, relaxation, vacation, and time to de-stress.

Some of you are...

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