The Getaway Car


Out of breath.


I’ve got him now.

He’s in my reach.

Just as I’m about to grab him he jumps into

getaway car

His getaway car.

The first time my two-year old did this I couldn’t stop laughing. Hopping into his little orange and yellow car actually slowed him down! Silly two-year old. I don’t think he realized that it wasn’t the best form of escape. But it was his form of escape. And in his mind it was his method of getting away. At least he feels he has a way to get away. A way to escape, if just for a few moments.

What about our students who feel trapped? That have no way to escape, physically or mentally. Maybe we can get them a getaway car. Or better yet, maybe we can convince them to stay with us just a little while longer.

The Panther

His vision, from the constantly passing bars, has grown so weary that it cannot hold anything else. It seems to him there are a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over, the movement of his powerful soft strides is like a ritual dance around a center in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils lifts, quietly–. An image enters in, rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles, plunges into the heart and is gone.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Whatever it is we decide we need to be aware that many of our students feel that they have no other options. And so they settle. And they tolerate. And they endure. And sometimes they implode right before our eyes.

This spring I am giving a presentation titled “How Leaders Can Reduce Stress and Stay Positive” at Common Ground 2014 in Ocean City, Maryland. One of the techniques I am going to discuss during my presentation is the power of having things to look forward to in life. I think it is important that everyone has something to look forward to each day, each week, each month, each year and ultimately in their lifetime.

Along these same lines I have begun asking students that are sent to my office for disciplinary reasons the following questions: What are you looking forward to when you get home or what are you looking forward to this weekend?

The responses, or lack thereof, are telling. Many students do not know how to respond to this question. They have nothing!

How on Earth can we expect to teach students how to read, write, think and behave if they can’t even think of one single event that they are looking forward to in their near future?

We must be that event!

We must be what they look forward to each day so that at the bare minimum they have at least have us! We must be their getaway car, or if not their car at least their driver!

besureof you


  1. Oh, my goodness. Not only are you saying about stress and looking forward to something what I heard last week at a PD about depression, but you added one of my favorite A.A.Milne quotes as well?? Way to get to me, Jon. (Well, the first part about your child in the getaway car was cute, too!) I want to head to Maryland to see your presentation! Will it be recorded??

  2. I love this post for so many reasons. I think the conversations I have with students around discipline, although few in my school, are some of my best opportunities to connect with kids. I agree with you. We all need something to look forward to!

  3. Langston Hughes asked “What happens to a dream deferred?” This post has me asking, what happens when we don’t have a dream or when we are not encouraged or given opportunities to dream/share dreams. What you are talking about is hope…and how can students be successful without it? This made me think about the work of Shane Lopez on hope. Your simple question is fostering communication that can make students excited about what lies ahead.

  4. You’ve really shown your author’s voice with this one. I love the question: what are you looking forward to? Because, if it isn’t school, then we’ve turned them off already. Shame on us, as we need to recognize that, and make it right. You rock, Jon.

  5. Well put Jon. The questions you ask students are telling. Good for you, good for you to learn their story rather than just punish. I will definitely be asking these questions to students.

    I’d like to add that I often ask students this, “What are you most proud of about yourself?” I also ask, “In your opinion what is your best quality?” These answers give me insight into how they feel about themselves. I appreciate the post, it confirmed that our best tactics as educators should be to learn/understand…not punish and shake our head. Thanks Jon

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