An alternative to guns at Scriber Lake High School | Guest View

By Marjie Bowker | May 25, 2018
Courtesy of: Marjie Bowker Marjie Bowker

At Scriber Lake High School, we refer to them as “weapons of non-confrontation,” or “seventeen ways to say ‘I care about you’.”

We’ve been actively practicing them for the past five years – and this implementation has significantly reduced suspensions, calmed our campus and made us more in tune with our students.

Our focus has turned to asking our students about their dreams for the future and guiding them toward those dreams.

These “weapons” are 17 questions based on “Appreciative Inquiry,” designed to make us better listeners and to change conversations with students that will strengthen their positive potential.

I would like to offer them up as an alternative to the tiresome and distracting national discussion about arming teachers with guns, which is bound to come up again following the latest school shooting.

A majority of our students have struggled with homelessness, depression, abuse, loss, or anxiety – and most have been failed by the system. They have a right to be angry, but for the most part, they aren’t. They are strong and resilient and grateful when they are treated with respect.

They are empowered when we listen to them. We ask them to “say more about that,” ask them how they feel, how they decided certain things, and what having a life goal might mean.

Imagine an educational system where learning is viewed as an emotional and meaning-making event as well as a cognitive one – where we focus on what we are learning, why we are learning it, and how we will use it in the future.

At Scriber, these have become our ideals. We are constantly asking ourselves how to help our students identify, develop, and maximize their strengths, skills, and talents. We strive to shift power into their hands, to bring them into the center of their own education.

Our work with these concepts and strategies is ongoing; we hope to continue evolving. But our staff – both classified and certified – was so passionate about what does work that we wrote a book about our journey under the direction of Dr. Cal Crow, our mentor from the Center for Efficacy and Resiliency, out of Edmonds Community College.

It’s called “Creating a Success Culture: Transforming Our Schools One Question at a Time.”

We will continue to practice active shooter drills with our students, support school safety in all ways possible and try to convince our leaders to reform gun laws.

But we hope that from our little corner of the world, we can be a voice to redirect our collective focus on how to make our schools places filled with heart and soul, where students – especially those who feel disenfranchised – can thrive and transform into what they are capable of becoming.

Marjie Bowker is a teacher at Scriber Lake High School in Edmonds.

 

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