7 Fears You Need to Overcome to Be An Effective Leader

Written by:  LOLLY DASKAL

Everybody has fears—and that means every leader has fears. But not letting those fears get the best of you is an important part of successful leadership. If you don’t learn to manage your fears, you’ll be tempted to take the kind of shortcuts that undermine your authority and influence. Here are seven of the most common fears that leaders, in particular, need to look out for:

The fear of being seen as an imposter. If you secretly feel you’re not really good enough or smart enough for leadership, you’re not alone. But left unchecked, those feelings can do harm to your effectiveness. Fear can make you forget everything and want to run. Instead, leverage your fear by experiencing it and being great anyway. As Mark Twain once said, courage is the resistance to fear, not the absence of fear. You can feel the fear and still be who you want to be as a leader.

The fear of being criticized. Facing criticism is part of the territory of leadership. You don’t have to let it bother you—in fact, you should be concerned if you never hear criticism, because that means you’re probably playing too safe. Think of it this way: If you have no critics you’ll likely have no success. So don’t fear criticism but take it in stride and strive to be your own best and meet your own standard of excellence. On the other side of your fear is everything you need to be.

The fear of being a failure. When you fail as a leader, you get everyone’s attention. Failure is something we all fear, but it doesn’t have to mean it’s fatal to your leadership— think of failure as simply part of succeeding. When you become afraid to fail forward, you end up missing out on new learning experiences and new opportunities. In the end we regret only the chances we didn’t take.

The fear of not being a good communicator. Not everyone is born to be a great communicator, but good communication skills are essential to leadership. if you are fearful that you’re not good at communicating in a compelling way—in a way that inspires and motivates others—practice your speaking or writing skills. The more you practice and rehearse and revise, the more confident you will be and the less fearful you will become.

The fear of making hard decisions. As a leader, you need to be able to make hard decisions without getting stuck in “paralysis of analysis”—taking too long to choose because of indecision. A lack of decisiveness can cripple any business or organization. Hard choices are sometimes necessary without much time to reflect. Make the best decision you can based on where you want to go, not where you are, and then move on.

The fear of not taking responsibility. As the saying goes, with much power comes much responsibility. To take responsibility you have to first realize that your leadership is the cause of and the solution to the things that matter, and you can’t escape that responsibly by postponing or evading it. The moment you move past your fear and take responsibility is the moment you can change anything.

The fear of not getting it done. In today’s global economy, effective leadership is defined by results—but, as we all know well, there are hundreds of distractions and millions of diversions that can get in the way. If you’re fearful you won’t get the job done, stop focusing on the results you want and concentrate on the actions you can take right now that will lead to those results.

Lead from within: These are just a few of the possibilities. The leaders I coach have all kinds of fears. Whatever form your fears take, once you learn you can tackle them head-on you’ll quickly realize you can handle anything.

 

Why I’m Against Innovation in Education

Education policymakers are too driven by fads—at the expense of tried and true approaches
By Mike Schmoker
May 1, 2018

I’m against innovation in education—as currently conceived and conducted. I’m not against small-scale educational experimentation, where new methods are tested, refined, and proved before they are widely implemented. But I’m against our inordinate obsession with what’s new at the expense of what works—with exceedingly superior (if much older) evidence-based practices. The difference in impact isn’t slight: Michael Fullan, an international authority on education, believes that our best high-leverage methods produce “stunningly powerful consequences” in schools. And they will do so, as professional-development expert Bruce Joyce has noted, “very rapidly.” Our willingness to recognize and act on this difference may be the central educational issue of our time.
Consider John Hattie’s research on the power of formative evaluation and feedback. His exhaustive studies confirm what we’ve known since the 1960s: that ongoing monitoring and adjustments to teaching, informed by feedback, may have more impact on learning than any other instructional factor.
Doug Lemov concurs. In his mega-best-selling book, Teach Like a Champion, he identifies “checking for understanding” as the pivotal element in an effective lesson.
I know teachers in two different schools in the same district whose adoption of these methods contributed to enormous one-year, whole-school gains on their state writing exam. After learning of these incredible gains, I joined these teachers to advocate the expansion of their efforts in their district—but their successes were entirely ignored. To our astonishment, their respective school leaders opted to pursue a string of popular—but weak or unproven—innovations, including SmartBoard training and standards-based grading.

Or what of New York City’s New Dorp High School? With the struggling school in danger of closure by city officials, the principal decided to go all in on exceedingly traditional instruction in reading, public speaking, and writing in every discipline. In just two years, the school made immense gains and is now a mecca for visitors. As author Peg Tyre explained in a 2012 article in The Atlantic, the school’s success was not a function of innovation or experimentation, but of old, proven instructional “fundamentals that schools have devalued or forgotten” (my emphasis). As Tyre points out, the fundamentals-first instructional model on which New Dorp based its program “would not be unfamiliar to nuns who taught in Catholic schools circa 1950.”
And then there’s the simple power of curriculum. Nothing cutting-edge here. Yet meta-analytic evidence from Robert Marzano and other researchers indicates that a coherent curriculum—if implemented—has more impact on learning than any other in-school factor. Not long ago, I attended an award ceremony for a school in Arizona that ranked in the top three for statewide gains in math. They achieved this in a two-year period, a direct result of having teams of teachers map out, for the first time, what they would teach in each math course, by grading period. I’m friends with an elementary school principal in Boston who persuaded his faculty members to do the same for every course at his high-poverty school. Scores rose, in his words, “with amazing speed”: from the bottom to the top third in the state, in a single school year.
Finally, consider working-class Brockton High School, in Massachusetts. Brockton was among the lowest-achieving schools in the state. The faculty responded to dire performance indicators by making “reading, writing, speaking, and reasoning” in every subject area their mantra. In 2001, the first year of their effort, the state’s education commissioner called to inform them that Brockton had made the largest gains in the commonwealth. In the next few years, Brockton rose from the bottom rungs to the top 10 percent in Massachusetts.
Perhaps the most promising fact about the best evidence-based practices is that they are currently the least implemented. Because of that, their use would have a swift and substantial impact in thousands of schools and on millions of students. But not if they continue to be supplanted, as they now are, by innovations like the flipped classroom, student-centered learning spaces, teaching with mobile apps, gamification, or the now-ubiquitous variations on personalized learning. Not one of those ranks high on any list of what’s most effective. What researchers Thomas B. Corcoran, Susan H. Fuhrman, and Catherine Belcher wrote years ago in their study of professional development is still true: Those in charge of what teachers learn are not an “evidence-based community.” They are driven, on the contrary, by “whims, fads, opportunism, and ideology.”

When I donated a kidney to my sister, the doctors didn’t experiment on her with the latest anti-rejection drugs. They gave her the best, evidence-based anti-rejection medicine available at the time—Cyclosporine. And it saved her life.
We have a pretty stark choice: We can either implement the best we know or continue to treat students and teachers like lab rats. It’s time for education to make the leap to a more authentic professionalism—by giving innovation its due, but never letting it supplant or precede those practices that would produce “stunningly powerful consequences” in our schools and in the lives of students.
Mike Schmoker is an author, speaker, and consultant. He is the author of Focus (ASCD, 2011) and Leading with Focus (ASCD, 2016).

Do Educators’ Mental Models Impact Student Achievement

Just today May 23, 2018, my colleagues were talking to me about the “Achievement Gap” and “Equality.” One stated, “After so many years, very little has changed as it relates to closing the gap which continues to linger between Hispanics and White Students as well as African American and White students.” My reply, “Well that’s absolutely true.”  Due to reflecting on that conversation,  I have been motivated to write out my thoughts.

So, I am wondering how do we educators and the implemented systems or barriers contribute to the widening of the ever pressing achievement gap that shows up on multiple metrics such as the American College Testing (ACT), Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Measurement of Academic Performance (MAP), National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), as well as state assessments such as the LEAP of Louisiana. Research consistently provide evidence, despite ethnicity and social economic status of students, there is a smaller and more manageable achievement gap when students enter kindergarten. Consequently, as students persist through secondary schooling the gap widens. “Why?” What happens for students who attend school 90% of the time but still suffer from the achievement gap?

These questions led me to think about our mental models. Mental Models are “deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures and images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action (Senge, 1990). Very often, we are not consciously aware of our mental models or the effects they have on our behavior” (Senge, 1990). Sometimes we are not aware of the negative impact on certain students’ academic success.

Explanation of the Achievement Gap

There are many thoughts as to why there is an achievement gap. For example, there are views on what happens at home or in the community and what happens within the walls of the schoolhouse (Ford, 2008). It is clear educators cannot control what happens at home. However, at school many times teachers’ mental models of poor students or students of color are extremely low. As a result, we get what is known as a dumb down curriculum.  In other words, Algebra II of the 1990s is not the same Algebra II in the 21st Century.  To many teachers severely do not believe all students can learn if given increased time on task, necessary supports, and interventions supported by prioritized standards with aligned common formative assessments.

Nevertheless, teachers and principals are in control of the schoolhouse and they should be using data sets to drive instructions every hour of the school day for every student. Subsequently, strong negative mental models of certain groups of students may very well impede teachers from operating in good faith in regards to students of color and their parents who do not have loud voices and possibly less educated ( Noguera, 2012).

It is imperative for principals, department chairs, and administrators to challenge the mental models of implicit biases. This should be a non-negotiable. Those responsible for educating students should be held accountable. Why? Because for many students its truly a matter of life or death. Education breaks poverty. Educated citizens have more opportunities because doors are open for them. Educated citizens are more likely to have insurances such as health, vision, dental and opportunities for homeownership. “The American Dream.”

As of 2014, there are more children of color in public schools than there are students from the majority group. I point this out in order to make the case of how important it is to hold all accountable. There are now more students of color in public school. The very populations who tend to significantly lag behind white students.

“Of the projected 50.7 million public school students entering prekindergarten through grade 12 in fall 2017, White students will account for some 24.4 million. The remaining 26.3 million will be composed of 8.0 million Black students, 13.6 million Hispanic students, 2.8 million Asian/Pacific Islander students, 0.5 million American Indian/Alaska Native students, and 1.5 million students of Two or more races. The percentage of students enrolled in public schools who are White is projected to continue to decline through at least fall 2026, as the enrollments of Hispanic students and Asian/Pacific Islander students increase” (National Center Educational Statistics, 2017).

As leaders, we must lead with integrity and we must lead with students at the core of every decision that we make. Stay WOKE!!

Standards, Curriculum, and Assessments

 Standards are skills and knowledge students are expected to know and be able to do by the end of a lesson, chapter, unit, semester, or school year. Standards are constant and tend not to change from grade level to grade level.  What students should know and are expected to do comes from various cross sections of society such as schools, parents, military, businesses, colleges & universities, and communities. Curriculum on the other hand is flexible and can change from day to day. It’s the material and resources used to help students master the necessary skills or improve readiness.

Since knowledge is intangible or unable to be grasped because it’s inside students’ head, educators must administer assessments or other forms of measurements for the purpose of determining what students know, do not know, or partially know. Formative assessments  which are assessments for learning, provide the instructor tangible insight as it relates to what students know or their readiness level. This valuable insight should be used by educators  to adjust their actions or strategies. Therefore, formative assessments are essential for progress monitoring knowledge gained or not while proceeding with teaching and learning.  Just as a doctor who uses diagnostic tools to determine health levels such as a thermometer, a stethoscope, or blood work and prescribe a treatment plan, a check of mastery by the teacher can design the treatment the student needs in the form of  pathways to enable students to attain the skills that have been determined necessary for the student to know. During the teaching and learning process, formative assessments or checking for understanding should be immediate in order to provide students with immediate descriptive feedback that allow students opportunities to work toward meeting the identified purpose, goals or targets.

 

Why Great Leaders Expect Everyone to Be Great

This is a great article for any leader who challenges the status quo. This article validates you. I really like this one. I hop you do to. This article is written by LOLLY DASKAL.

Great leaders expect greatness from themselves and in turn they challenge others to be great too.

They challenge people to do better, be better and to meet a higher standard.

They do it because settling for substandard, low quality, second rate leadership is not an option.

Great leaders set high standards for their own performance, and for those around them.

Leadership is about service to others, being your best so you can offer your best.

The high standards of great leaders extend beyond the work they do include being a person of character, a leader of integrity and one who inspires the same in those around them.

Here are some of the ways great leaders elevate the standard for themselves and for others:

Establish clarity. Standards reflect values, so before you establish or change them you need to know with certainty what’s most important to you and communicate that with clarity. When you’re clear on values, making decisions becomes much simpler.

Show self-respect. Never lower your standards for anyone or anything. The self-respect that comes with firm standards is everything. Whatever everyone around you is doing, stay true to your ideals. Do what you need to do and do it with meaning and purpose.

Passionately protest mediocrity. “Good enough” are some of the most dangerous words a leader can hear. Nothing great was ever established on a foundation of mediocrity. Always demand more from yourself than anyone else could ever expect.

Never let anyone tell you your standards are too high. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the best for yourself and your team. When you shift your standards you create change—positive change when you raise standards, negative change when you lower them.

Protect your standards. Make sure people know what’s expected, and be consistent in enforcing those expectations. If you allow disrespect, that’s what you’ll receive.

Never apologize for demanding excellence. Never apologize for high standards. Those who rise up to meet them are the ones you want around you; those who try and need help are the ones you can work with; and the ones who reject it aren’t your people anyway.

Lead from within: When it comes to standards, one thing I’ve found to be true: However high or low you place your standards, that’s how far people will rise.

The Purposeful Silencing of Black Women in Educational Leadership

Thought this was a fascinating take on African American women and Leadership.  Article by Rebecca Lais.

By Contributor Rebecca Lais

“Aggressive.”

“Strong-willed.”

“Passionate”

— have been words falsely labeled as simple descriptors when in actuality, they are evidence of the continued sexism and racism that plagues our society. Women in leadership have always faced adversity and are still seen as second-rate citizens in our country. We see this play out on a national level, but we also see this through daily interactions with those of privilege.

Naively and ignorantly, I believed that we as women shared the same experience. It wasn’t until I was under the leadership of an incredible, Black, female leader, that I realized I was horribly wrong.

During my three years as a middle school English teacher in Tulsa, Okla. I had the opportunity to work under the tutelage of a phenomenal Black, female principal. She embodied the vision of not only equality but equity for our scholars, and she specifically combated the school-to-prison-pipeline narrative through our restorative justice program.

She worked tirelessly and fiercely on behalf of her students. Yet, through several interactions and conversations I observed, she was unfairly labeled as

“too difficult to work with” or “too pushy.”

As a Black woman in a white male/white female dominated arena, her experience is utterly different than those who enjoy the perks of privilege and one all too well-known by her fellow Black women leaders.

One such example that comes to mind is a meeting I attended as a Special Education teacher. Our principal was explaining to a district-level worker (a white female) that one of our scholars needed additional behavioral assistance due to several concerning situations which our school was not qualified to address. We were then told the district did not have the financial resources to help “all students,” and we would have to make due.

As our principal was advocating for our scholar, the employee begins to talk over her, turns to me and asks me to “reason with her.” I can’t help but wonder if our principal had been white or male, would she have been deemed as “unreasonable”?

As I’ve known our principal and as we’ve discussed her experiences as a black, female leader, she’s shared various memories that she’s given me permission to share. She recalls a time when she had to ask the Assistant Principal, an African-American man, to lead certain conversations with district-level employees because she knew her voice would not be heard and our scholars would lose opportunities as a result.

She also describes a conversation with another Black woman who told her that her long braids were “unprofessional” for a principal. Too often to count, she’s been told by fellow colleagues that her voice is “too stern” or her approach is “too dominant.”

She has faced discrimination from all sides, and yet she still continues. When I asked her why she remains committed to her work as a principal in Tulsa, she said,

“I want our young, black women to know they don’t have to change who they are because of what our society tells them to be. They may not be accepted for who they are, but that is not their responsibility. They need to see black women in leadership who refuse to let prejudice dictate how they will live their life. I want them to own who they are because we need them.”

It is not the responsibility of black women to tailor who they are and how they express themselves because of our white and male-dominated society.

It is not the right of others to label anyone as “too” of anything.

We need black women in leadership.

Our country is evidence of that right now. We need our young, black, female scholars to see their reflection in leadership and to see how each of them can make our nation better.

The Purposeful Silencing of Black Women in Educational Leadership 

 

College and Career Ready Workshop!!

This workshop will provide valuable information to parents and students. During this workshop parents will have the opportunity to raise important questions with a panel of educators from Columbia Public Schools, Mizzou & Columbia College.

Time: January 18, 2018

Address 1818 West Worley, Columbia, Missouri

Teacher perceptions and race

Fixed mindset compared to growth mindset.  Fixed mindsets work against the achievement of all students. When educators are of the mindset that all students cannot learn, he or she may be in the wrong profession.  This article from Brookings (Brown Center Chalkboard) sheds light on how teachers’ perceptions of their students can be harmful if teachers’ perceptions are fixed and they are opposed to a growth mindset.

(The young girl in the picture insisted on showing me what she learned in her ballet class.  I allowed her to demonstrate because I believed in her). Growth mindset. She was overjoyed to show me and her peers. Awesomeness!!

By: Dick Startz Monday, February 22, 2016

When it comes to student behavior, what’s polite or rude—what counts as acting out versus what’s seen as healthy youthful exuberance—depends not only on actual behavior but on how teachers read behavior. Black and white American cultures are still sufficiently different in that how teachers read behavior depends in part on the teacher’s race. New research shows that black and white teachers give very different evaluations of behavior of black students. When a black student has a black teacher that teacher is much, much less likely to see behavioral problems than when the same black student has a white teacher.

New research by Adam Wright, “Teachers’ Perceptions of Students’ Disruptive Behavior: The Effect of Racial Congruence and Consequences for School Suspension,” documents that black teachers have much less negative views of black student behavior than do white teachers. (Conflict of interest notice…hmmm no, braggin’ notice: Wright is one of my PhD students.) Wright looks first at teacher evaluations of behavior, and then at data on school suspensions. Let’s begin with the teacher evaluations.

Wright uses data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study to follow the experience of more than 20,000 students in kindergarten, first, third, and fifth grade. During the elementary school years, teachers were asked to assess a number of noncognitive skills. The measure of interest here is “externalizing problem behaviors,” which asks how often the student “argues, fights, gets angry, acts impulsively, and disrupts ongoing activities.” Notice that we see a measure of teacher perception, rather than counts of disciplinary events. Wright focuses on externalizing behavior because this measure is highly correlated with school suspensions.

On a scale in which the average measure of externalizing behavior is normalized to zero, white and Hispanic students average -0.07, while black students average +0.37. (Asian students average -0.38.) So on average, black students are viewed as having much worse behavior—which presumably reflects some combination of objectively worse behavior and perceived worse behavior.

Wright does something very clever, taking advantage of the fact that students are observed several times and that we know which students are in which classes with which teachers. Wright asks how black students are rated by black teachers, controlling for both the average rating of an individual student by all his teachers and for the average rating a particular teacher of all of her students in a given class. What this means is that Wright can identify how a black student’s behavior is perceived by a black teacher as compared to how the same student is perceived by white teachers. The procedure also adjusts for the possibility that black teachers are just more “easy going,” because the average rating given in a class is effectively subtracted off. So Wright is arguably identifying a causal effect of black students being matched with black teachers.

BEING RACE MATCHED MATTERS A LOT FOR BLACK STUDENTS BUT NOT FOR OTHERS

Bottom line: black teachers are much less likely to find problems with black students than white teachers are with the same students. The difference is enormous, accounting for about half the black/white externalizing behavior gap. (Remember that the data does not tell us whether black teachers have different perceptions of black students or whether student/teacher race matching leads to objectively different behavior.) For black students, being matched with a black teacher matters.

How about white or Hispanic students being matched with white or Hispanic teachers, respectively? Nope, no discernable differences in externalizing behavior. (To be clear, black teachers rate white students about the same as do white teachers.) In other words, being race matched matters a lot for black students but not for others.

Wright drills down further. First—and this is probably unsurprising—the effect of race matching is entirely due to the evaluations given to black boys. There isn’t a noticeable difference for black girls. Second, the effect of matching is limited to the year of the match. When Wright checked reports of black students when they were assigned to white teachers following a year with a black teacher he found no lingering effects of that year of being race-matched. This suggests that the findings reflect teacher perceptions rather than real behavioral differences since we might expect improvements in behavior to persist the following year—and that’s not what happens.

HOW SUSPENSION RATES BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE STUDENTS PLAY INTO RACE MATCHING

Wright then turns to the question of suspension. As is well known, black students are much more likely to be suspended than are white students. Wright shows that the more times a black student is matched with a black teacher, the less likely that student is to be suspended. Unfortunately, the data does not note the grade in which a suspension happened. It is reasonable to speculate that most suspensions come in later grades and that the finding is due in part to the effect of student-teacher race matching in earlier grades. We can’t be sure of this however, and some part of the finding may also be due to fewer suspensions of black students during years they have black teachers.

The difference in suspension rates is large. Taking these findings at face value, Wright estimates that if we doubled exposure of black students to black teachers, the black-white suspension gap would fall in half. Because of data limitations, it’s not possible to test whether black students’ likelihood of suspension changes when they move from a black teacher to a white teacher. Instead, Wright looks at black students who enter the same school at kindergarten but are exposed to different percentages of black teachers through eighth grade. So the causal interpretations about suspensions are less certain than are the interpretations about behavior reports.

In summary, black teacher perceptions about the behavior of black boys is very different than the perceptions of white teachers. This doesn’t happen for other racial groups. None of this necessarily suggests malice or prejudice or favoritism on anyone’s part. It does suggest one more way that race still matters in our schools.

Camouflage Off

“I think knowing one’s history leads one to act in a more enlightened fashion. I can not imagine how knowing one’s history would not urge one to be an activist.” — John Hope Franklin, one of most important historians of 20th century.

Introduction

I love my community too much to just sit back and say nothing. I feel obligated to speak out.  After all, one of my first cousins who is the father of an eight months old baby girl just died December 2017 due to an accidental drug overdose. His overdose has put a huge burden on the family. Now there is an eight months old girl without her father and mother who is hanging on the edge of depression.  Therefore, this is personal for me. I have nothing against others. Nonetheless, I am saying we need to speak out against things that harm our well-being and overall progress.  When we hit music industries and others in their pockets, they listen. Think of the Bus Boycott during the Civil Rights struggle. Why did the City of Alabama reconsider bus discrimination? Money

One day while sitting in the barbershop, I became intrigued, distraught, fraught, ashamed and embarrassed all at the same time. I was not sure of what I heard blaring out of the speakers. Nevertheless, clearly derogative for any public establishment. I started to listen with more focus for the purpose of attempting to decipher the lyrics. I still had no idea of the mumbling or lack of clarity on the part of the artist. Despite my difficulty of trying to make out what the artist was saying, it was clear the young black boys, teenage boys, and African American men had no problem. After all, they were singing the song with gestures and dance. I needed to know more about the craze. Some of the lyrics became apparent enough for me to google the lyrics and follow the song on YouTube. To my surprise, the song had an astonishing 228 million hits. The video and lyrics were simply deplorable and ruining. This type of song can be categorized as a modern day form of Jim Crow and oppression no matter how the record industry, critics, or other artists are trying to spin the meaning. Even more disturbing were the young black minds that were being shaped and molded by this image of life and perception of females.  As a trained sociologist, I started to think like a sociologist. I wondered how habitual exposure to such adverse events which flirts with glorifying violence and drugs manifest in school and do they contribute to the demise of family institutions and school achievement. The words that come to mind are learning, behavior, and socialization.  In the next section of this article I will define socialization as well as the different agents of socialization and how these agents impact our individual behavior as well as their impact on social groups at the micro level and macro level.

Agents of Socialization

On our journey to becoming teenagers, young adults, and eventually mature adults, how do we come to be? What impacts our thoughts, personality, behaviors, likes, dislikes and our decisions? Why do we like certain music, certain foods, and certain clothes that we wear? Who told us it was appropriate? How do kids know to sag their clothing in Seattle, Washington and clear across the country in Teaneck New Jersey? Why have tattoos taken our country by storm?  Why do females now call each other bitches and laugh about it (Reality TV)? Finally, despite how we feel while growing up, why do we more than not, eventually start to behave like our parents? The answers to all of these questions lie inside of what is known as socialization.

Socialization is known as the process whereby an individual learns to adjust to a group (or society) and behave in a manner approved by the group (or society). According to most social scientists, socialization essentially represents the whole process of learning throughout the life course and is a central influence on the behavior, beliefs, and actions of adults as well as of children ( Encyclopedia Britannica, 2017). However, it is much deeper than just socialization.

There are Five Agents of Socialization and these agents have a profound impact on who we are or become as time progresses. These agents are known as family, peers, school, mass or social media, and religion. Some sociologist omit religion and instead focus on culture.

FAMILY

Family is the first agent of socialization. Mothers and fathers, siblings and grandparents, including members of an extended family, all teach the child. Many social factors affect the way a family raises its children. Sociologists recognize that race, social class, religion, and other societal factors play an important role in socialization (National Opinion Research Center 2008). A person may pick up traits from elsewhere in the world, but they also seem to always carry the unique traits that were initiated by their family.

PEERS

A peer group is made up of people who are identical in age and social stature and who have things in common. Peer group socialization begins in the earliest years, such as when kids on a playground teach younger children the norms about taking turns. Peers tend to play a bigger role and influence as the child becomes older.

SCHOOL

Most U.S. children spend a great deal of their day in school, 180 days a year, which makes it hard to deny the importance school has on their socialization (U.S. Department of Education 2004). Schools build a sense of competition into the way grades are awarded and the way teachers evaluate students (Bowles and Gintis 1976).

RELIGION

The United States is full of synagogues, worship sites, and similar religious communities where people gather to worship and learn. Like other institutions, these places teach participants how to interact with the religion’s material culture. Many religious institutions also uphold gender norms and contribute to their enforcement through socialization.

The many Facets of MEDIA

The media distribute impersonal information to a wide audience, via television, newspapers, radio, internet/cell phones, iTunes, social media such as Facebook, Snap Chat, Instagram and music industry like Epic Records. With the average person spending over four hours a day in front of the television (and children averaging even more screen time), media greatly influences social norms (Roberts, Foehr, and Rideout, 2005). People learn about objects of material culture (like new technology and transportation options), as well as nonmaterial culture—what is true (beliefs), what is important (values), and what are expected norms (Lumen Learning, 2017).

“Children learn through watching television. Some of the things they learn are beneficial; others are not. They learn about the world and the ways of the society. Children learn more than facts from television; they also get a good daily dose of stereotypes and a lot of misleading information about their world. Most of all, they get a big helping of violence” (Gonzalez-Mena, 2010).  Of the five agents of socialization, the one that enter all homes across the globe is media (Lumen Learning, 2017).

The Impact of Media and how it Shapes our Lives

The media is my main area of concern. The impact of media has grown significantly in the last seven to ten years. Media comes into our homes through multiple channels such as social media, television, internet, and cell phones. Parents purchase cell phones for their child. In many cases, students receive their first cell device as young as first grade. From that moment forward, parents are left in the dark in regards to what their children are exposed to on their hand held device. Young people are exposed to rated “X” porn to “X” rated music. These exposures can very well have a positive or negative impact in regards to who we eventually become, how we treat one another, as well as ones’ outlook on societal topics and life.

Now it’s important for me to disclose what I witnessed in the barbershop which had me acutely despondent and discouraged. The song “Mask Off” (2017). A tune that seems to consistently reference a mixer of Molly and Percocet drugs. Urban dictionary (2017) defines Molly Percocet as Molly is a pure form of MDMA also found in some ecstasy pills. Gives you warm butterfly feelings , bliss, euphoria and more intense sexual experiences. Makes you want to dance, grind your teeth and dehydrated. An additional definition from another source states, Percocet contains a combination of acetaminophen and oxycodone. Oxycodone is an opioid pain medication. An opioid is sometimes called a narcotic. Acetaminophen is a less potent pain reliever that increases the effects of oxycodone (Drugs.com, 2017). Now this is alarming because throughout 2016 and 2017, one could not turn on their television, radio, or internet and not hear how opioids had destroyed an entire family or neighborhood such as neighborhoods in Ohio and Missouri.

I am not saying the artist is promoting the use of drugs. Nonetheless, one thing is true across the country.  There has been a definite increase in accidental drug overdose. I am saying the audiences who listen and watch through media outlets are young and impressionable children, adolescents, and young adults. Can we assume young audiences are NOT trying to determine if the artist is promoting or not promoting the use of drugs? I am saying young people are being exposed to these events during happy and motivating moments  when they attend bars, clubs, family reunions, on social media, and other social events.  As a result, young minds may associate these types of songs as acceptable because adults are idolizing certain types of songs. Therefore, act upon them by living these events out which ultimately may lead to devastation to them and their families.

 Drug Epidemic on America

“In August, President Trump declared America’s opioid epidemic a national emergency two days after vowing the U.S. would “win” the fight against it. About a month earlier, the Department of Justice charged more than 400 people who officials said were preying on addicts to shell out money for unnecessary treatments that only worsened their condition, and doctors who were allegedly prescribing unnecessary opioids (NBC News, 2017).

The White House Council of Economic Advisers recently reported that the epidemic’s true cost in 2015 was $504 billion — more than six times the most recent estimate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in late October that illegal, lab-made fentanyl contributed to the death of at least half of fatal opioid overdoses in 2016, underscoring how deadly the epidemic has become in recent years” (NBC News, 2017).

As a community, do we sit and absolutely do nothing about what we know could potentially be detrimental to young lives and the community? Do we continue to allow Epic records and others within the music industry sell us snake oil? Do we continue to provide paid critics a platform to say certain songs are the best ever even though the songs may degrade our black women and undermine our community? Do you believe the owners of the music industry have no clue as to what drugs do to individuals and a community at large? Do you think the music industry doesn’t realize there has been a spike in drug overdoses? Money is at the root of our children demise. The next section addresses one of young children’s idols and models.  This leads me to ask, will you as parents allow your boy or girl to hang out with people who just talk about illicit drugs? Do you desire your child to have such role models? As responsible parents or leaders of the community, would you allow your daughter or son to go for sleep overs in such environments?

Yes, it is understood people change but before they change will you allow your child to be exposed to such horrific environments that glorify violence and drug use? I know critics will say I am hating, but nothing could be further from the truth. There were people who told Rosa Parks to get up because they were scared and she was going to make things worse for all African Americans. There are those who say Colin Kaepernick shouldn’t kneel due to him giving the NFL a deplorable name. These status quo humans have always been around. I am simply trying to point out how the media is allowing such deplorable songs not rap music but horrifying songs which are only beneficial to the artist(s) and owners of record labels.  However, at the expense of so much more such as our children, families, and communities.

 Product of your Environment

Have we ever wondered who some of these people are and their origin? To be clear, this is not to be judgmental, but instead to disclose the facts. Who have these strong grips on our young children and in some cases communities? Though I am pointing out one person thats hot right now, he is by no means the only one. There are too many spreading lyrics that are alarming. Some communities suffer more than others.

Born Nayvadius Wilburn into a family of street hustlers going back at least two generations. Future has four children with four different women: Jessica Smith, Brittni Mealy, India J, and singer Ciara. He was engaged to Ciara in October 2013, but Ciara called off the engagement in August 2014 due to his infidelity (Wikipedia, 2017). Their son, Future Zahir Wilburn, was born on May 19, 2014. As of 2016, Future is being sued by both Jessica Smith and Ciara. Smith is suing him for failing to pay child support, and stated that their son “suffers from emotional and behavioral issues stemming from Future’s neglect as a father” (thejasminebrand, 2016). So how many of our school age students are experiencing the same negative adverse events? Events that negatively impact academic performance, but yet society is expecting school systems to be miracle workers, but never point out the short comings of many parents. Ciara is suing him for defamation, slander, and libel (Wikipedia, 2017).

Future is also known to drink a drink called “Dirty Sprite”.  This drink is a drug infused concoction that contains cough syrup among other ingredients. Despite rumors of the drink having negative side-effects, the rapper is a fan (Capitalxtra.com, 2017). Finally, while a teenager and running the streets, the young artist was shot (Capitalxtra.com, 2017).

In closing, this argument I am presenting is not new. During the 1920s, it was Jazz. During the 50s it was Blues and Rock and Roll. During the 60s it was long hair and the Beatles. However, I am not sure if Jazz and long hair increased death by 30% across the country. I dig rap music, but not songs which flirts with taking opioids that paralyze the country.  We cannot continue to normalize these types of songs. I did not say rap music.  We can not normalize opioid use. 

Lyrics to the Song

Full Lyrics:   https://genius.com/11364239

Call it how it is
Hendrix
I promise, I swear, I swear
You heard, spit it, yo

[Chorus]

Percocets, molly, Percocets
Percocets, molly, Percocets Rep the set, gotta rep the set

Chase a check, never chase a b—h, Mask on, f— it, mask off (Future, 2017).

References

Bowles, Samuel, and Herbert Gintis. 1976. Schooling in Capitalistic America: Educational Reforms and the Contradictions of Economic Life. New York: Basic Books.

Encyclopedia Britannica (2017): Retrieved December 30, 2017

Future Facts: 20 Things you need to Know about Mask Off Rapper: Retrieved December 30, 2017 from http://www.capitalxtra.com/features/lists/future-facts/where-from/

Genius Lyrics Retrieved December 28, 2017 from https://genius.com/11364239

Family, and Community: Family-Centered Early Care and Education, by J. Gonzalez-Mena, 2009 edition, p. 335-336. Retrieve December 28, 2017 from https://www.education.com/reference/article/media-as-influence-socialization/

Lumen Introductory to Sociology: Retrieved December 24, 2017 from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/sociology/chapter/agents-of-socialization/

National Opinion Research Center. 2007. General Social Surveys, 1972–2006: Cumulative Codebook. Chicago: National Opinion Research Center.

Percocet Drug: Retrieved December 30, 2017 from https://www.drugs.com/search.php?searchterm=Percocet&a=1

Roberts, Donald F., Ulla G. Foehr, and Victoria Rideout. 2005. “Parents, Children, and Media: A Kaiser Family Foundation Survey.” The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved December 30, 2017 from (http://www.kff.org/entmedia/upload/7638.pdf).

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. 2004. “Average Length of School Year and Average Length of School Day, by Selected Characteristics: United States, 2003-04.” Private School Universe Survey (PSS). Retrieved December 30, 2017 (http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pss/tables/table_2004_06.asp).

Urban Dictionary 2017

“I think knowing one’s history leads one to act in a more enlightened fashion. I can not imagine how knowing one’s history would not urge one to be an activist.” — John Hope Franklin, one of most important historians of 20th century.

 

A correlation between the Achievement Gap and Adverse Childhood Experiences

What exactly is an achievement gap?

The term “achievement gap” refers to disparities in the academic achievement of specific groups of students (Coleman et al., 1966). The achievement gap now measures four years: by the end of high school, African American and Latino students have skills in literacy (reading) and numeracy (mathematics) that are virtually identical to those of White students at the end of middle school (Lyman & Villani, 2004; Scherer, 2002-2003).

 What about the Achievement Gap once school years are over?

The achievement gap exists during school years, but when the school years are over the achievement gap becomes an opportunity gap. In other words, students become adults. In many cases, adults who will not be able to pay for everyday essentials such as food, purchase a home, have access to health, vision, or dental insurance.  The achievement gap can very well impact one’s life time earnings. Lower life time earnings can have a direct impact on where people live and what kids are exposed to as they grow up. Lower life time earnings can very well impact one’s credit score and put up barriers that prevent home ownership and sometimes prevent the opportunity to rent. Consequently, most are forced to live in low credit score neighborhoods. Low credit score neighborhoods can breed a host of negative exposures such as violence and childhood stressors. Low score neighborhoods are inundated with liquor stores, cigarette ads, and corner stores that sell nothing but unhealthy processed food. All of these factors add to negative childhood experiences.

Definition of Adverse Childhood Experiences/Trauma 

Psychological trauma is the unique individual experience of an event or enduring conditions, in which: The individual experiences (subjectively) an existential threat to life, bodily integrity, or sanity, such that the individual’s ability to integrate his/her emotional experience is overwhelmed. (Saakvitne, 1995). Reactions to Traumatic Stress are as follow:  (Cormier, 2012 at NABSE Conference)

  • Re-experiencing symptoms: intrusive memories, nightmares, flashbacks, re-living, dissociating, high reactivity to reminders
  • Arousal symptoms: Hypervigilance, hyperarousal (heightened emotional experiencing and slow return to baseline), feeling edgy, difficulty falling asleep, midnight or early morning awakenings, heightened irritability and aggression (Cormier, 2012 NABSE)
  • Avoiding symptoms: refusal to talk about event, avoiding traumatic reminders, social withdrawal, detachment, numbing (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition).
  • The person experiencing traumatic stress never gets a break from it. They feel as though they are always “on.”
  • The combination of always being on, of re-experiencing and of trying (unsuccessfully) to avoid re-experiencing contribute to the person’s feeling as though they are coming apart or going crazy(Cormier, 2012 NABSE Conference).
  • To others, the person’s inability to control their emotions, withdrawal from normal social interchange, and active distrust of everything, make that person very difficult to engage. Thus, the very people who could become a source of support become a source of antagonism (Cormier, 2012 NABSE conference Nashville, Tennessee)
  • This combination of the inability to regulate emotions, the inability to trust others and the inability to attend to the present moment is quite destructive of the kind of executive and integrative functioning necessary for academic success.

When students come up in high violence areas they are more than not exposed to adverse childhood experiences. Adverse Childhood experiences such as drugs, child abuse, sexual abuse, incarceration of love ones, drug use by caretakers, and gun violence. When a child is habitually exposed to these kind of stressors, they can become traumatized prior to entering kindergarten. This traumatization has a colossal impact on the child’s behavior and the ability to learn.  Some researchers would say the child is dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The same PTSD soldiers experience due to combat from serving in the military during wartime.  Researchers admit the PTSD suffered by students never turns off. As a result, all adults such as the school system should be in the know and have established a plan that effectively addresses the trauma or unwanted behavior.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (Presented by Matthew A. Munich, PhD, LCSW Trauma Clinician Family Service of Rhode Island, 2012 at NABSE Conference Nashville, Tennessee)

  • A study commissioned by Kaiser Permanente involving 17,000 patients surveyed by their primary care physician to make a connection between health outcomes and “Adverse Child Events” (A.C.E.). 12,000 patients responded. These were people who were predominately middle to upper middle class Caucasian. 74% had attended college, with an average age of 57.
  • Responders were given 1 point for every childhood adverse experience: physical, emotional or sexual abuse, absent or addicted caregiver, parental divorce, domestic violence, mentally ill caregiver.

ACE SCORE

  • Score of 4 or higher: twice as likely to smoke, seven times as likely to become alcoholics, six times as likely to have had sex before 15.
  • 4 or higher: One is twice as likely to have cancer, twice as likely to have heart disease, and four times as likely to suffer from emphysema or chronic bronchitis. 12 times as likely to have attempted suicide than those with an ACE score of 0.
  • Men with an ACE score of 6 or higher were 46 times as likely to have injected drugs than men who had no history of ACEs (acestudy.org; Tough, 2011).

Nadine Burke & The ACE Study

  • Bayview Health Clinic, a San Francisco public health clinic, Nadine Burke administers a modified version of the ACE study questionnaire to her patients at every yearly exam. This time, the median age was 7, rather than 57.  700 patients were surveyed.
  • 69% had an ACE score of 1.  12% have an ace of 4 or higher.
  • In addition to health outcomes being more negative already for this population, Burke saw a correlation between children’s ACE score and school performance.
  • The conclusion being drawn from this is that the glucocorticoids that flood the young brain as a result of adverse childhood events adversely affect its normal development. These findings mirror studies from the late 60s and early 70s  led to the great literacy movement, with government programs like Head Start.  (Tough, 2011)

As the author of this article, my purpose is to provide information that is beneficial for teachers, districts, families and most of all the information is helpful for improving students’ quality of life both academically and socially.  It is essential for all educators to understand their students’ life experiences. By doing so, immensely improves the opportunity for students to be successful.