Guest blogger Rachel Eversole is the FCPS coordinator of Behavioral Interventions and Supports in the Student Services Department. Find out why she endorses the Superintendent’s Summer Book Club selection, Eyes Are Never Quiet: Listening Beneath the Behaviors of Our Most Troubled Students, by Lori Desautels and Michael McKnight.
In my 20 years of supporting children with behavioral challenges, I have learned many methodologies and yet often felt overwhelmed that I wasn’t able to help some students, particularly those most vulnerable. We know that punitive, exclusionary practices do not help. Shaming children and minimizing their displays of pain do not help. Discipline as it has been previously utilized, especially when paired with frustration on the part of adults, often leaves students feeling like they do not belong.
Maya Angelou is famously quoted as having said, "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." Luckily for us, advances in neuroscience, the study of resilience and our understanding of human development allow us to “do better” for our students.
In their book Eyes Are Never Quiet: Listening Beneath the Behaviors of Our Most Troubled Students, Lori Desautels and Michael McKnight lay out a thoughtful explanation for why our systems fail some students and what we can do to change that. Anyone can apply their easy-to-use information and actionable strategies any time.
On a small scale, the science in this book has the power to change the life of each student in a teacher’s class, in your club or in your family through ensuring relational safety. On a grand scale, when the neuroscience of adversity is utilized to inform policy through creation of proactive, preventative measures, this information has the power to be revolutionary. Imagine the impact it would have on our society if every person felt a sense of safety across every environment they encounter.
FCPS is an innovative system with so much to be proud of! We have the knowledge we need to advance our practice as a system that responds to student behavior by increasing relational safety. Maya Angelou also said, "The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise." I believe we can and should do both.