Author: Brenda Yoho

Christian,Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Aspiring Author, Motivator, Survivor, Leader, Coach, Mentor and a service agent living a life of purpose. Started my career in education as a teaching assistant, moved into the teaching role, followed by administration serving as Assistant Principal, Principal and Director of Educational Support Programs. Over my more than two decades of educational experience I have served as the Illinois Principals Association Illini Region Director and most recently as a mentor/coach for principals. In addition, I have presented at their conferences over the years. In my final years in administration I served also as the Illinois Association of Title Directors Vice President and Treasurer. I am a survivor of an indirect hit of lightning and an almost fatal accident with a semi truck that hit the car I was traveling in with my family. My daughter, granddaughter and close friend survived as well! My injuries were the most significant leaving lifelong damages.

Farmers help us grow leaders!

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

I did not become a teacher until I was 30 years old. Isn’t it too late to start a different career at that age? When is it time to stop growing? Can you think of anything that stops growing? The only time growth stops….when life stops.

We can choose not to grow. It is all in the choices we make that determine who we are and what we do. This is an essential lesson for all to learn. Growth does not just happen. You have to establish a plan, strategies, and goals.

Let’s begin by thinking like a farmer! Do you think they plant their seeds and hope they grow? No! Lots of work, analysis, and care are involved in the growth. The same is applied to the growth developed of all.

Growth Plan

Seeds you plant!

  • Determine the focus of what you want to grow.
  • Study great leaders and their qualities, skills, and strategies.
  • Evaluate what you need to grow.
  • Pick a few to begin and plant!

Prepare the ground

  • Develop your goals to accomplish.
  • Work out a schedule to set aside time.
  • Dig into your core values.
  • Plow into your beliefs and practices.
  • Cultivate a vision statement of your own.
  • Prepare and go!

Enrich and feed the soil (soul)

  • A great addition is a coach or mentor to help provide additional support.
  • Assess your personality, beliefs, values, and practices. What do you need to feed or weed?
  • Practice reflection, seeking inspiration and motivation to provide to others.
  • Read, watch, find resources, and keep learning!
  • Get plenty of rest, nutrition, exercise and grow!

Harvest time

  • Gather information on the success of the skills gained.
  • Ask questions about the improvements made.
  • What else is needed?
  • Measure the depths of the impact.
  • Reflect, renew and rejoice in the growth!

When leaders are focused on growth and development, everyone is engaged in making the steps together to create change overall. As we get better, everyone will as well.

Tic-Toc-Time is a Wasting!

Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.”

Johan Wolfgang Von Goethe

Time! This is your most valuable resource. You are provided with 24 hours a day. How do you spend it?

My husband just said to me, “There seems to be a great deal of time that is wasted.” What do you think? Do you see time being wasted? He was referencing political leaders.

Perception is something leaders must be aware of as they work. How people view or perceive us factors into their beliefs of the quality of the work we do.

In discussions with many different leaders, many thoughts were shared on perceptions, dealing with time, and managing daily operations. It isn’t easy to manage days when many factors interrupt or disrupt the plans you have made for the day.

Preparing for unexpected

  • Cross-training staff is a strategy to help prepare for unexpected emergencies, illnesses, sudden loss, or many other possibilities.
  • Prioritize tasks to complete. We often try to meet all of the quick and easy things on our list to feel accomplished. In reality, the “big stuff” keeps getting bigger.
  • Organize, organize and delegate. There is nothing wrong with dividing and conquering. Make sure what is delegated is appropriate.
  • Prepare in advance items that can be used again by changing a few essential things. Example: I was caught off guard by a death of a student. When a death occurs, emotions can get in the way. I have letters already prepared for incidents like this and am thankful for each day they are never used.
  • Over schedule a few minutes on each task. When scheduling tasks on your calendar, adjust them by providing a few extra minutes. This gives you a sense of accomplishment by finishing early. Allows time for those interruptions that will happen throughout the workday.

I can’t see you

One of the critical factors educational leaders are told, “be visible.” I find this to be true with many leadership roles. People want to see leaders. When leaders are not actively present and connected with those they lead, a disconnect happens.

When was the last time you saw your leader? Leaders, when was the last time you were out with the people you serve? Visibility takes time to complete, but the value is so significant.

Save Time

You can save your time by organizing, prioritizing, and structuring. Here are a few tips to help in not letting time tic-toc away.

  • Establish a routine- Example: I started with emails, moved to physical mail, and then phone messages. (Touch everything once)
  • Have a daily schedule-Tasks to complete, Meetings-Color code to determine how much time you spend on specific areas. Monitor your time.
  • Schedule me time-to reflect on time spent, steps taking, reevaluate items, and refocus to organize plans—time to work on specific tasks. Turn off notifications, email, phone, and no interruptions. Face to Face conferences.
  • Say No- It is OK to say no to things that do not apply to your goals, which will help your mission of vision. You are focused on what you need to accomplish in your time frame.
  • Delegate! Help others with their leadership when appropriate.

Prioritize your time to accomplish what is the most important to your team and organization. Set guidelines routines and remove anything that is not working to achieve the established goals. Establish a daily calendar of your time. Commit to being visible daily and active with those you serve.

Solution Weekly, January 23-29

Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.”

Johan Wolfgang Von Goethe

Time! This is your most valuable resource. You are provided with 24 hours a day. How do you spend it? My husband just said to me, “There seems to be a great deal of time that is wasted.” What do you think? Do you see time being wasted? How do you know? What are you going to change or do? This will be our priority to tackle this week. Time!

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

I did not become a teacher until I was 30 years old. Isn’t it too late to start a different career at that age? When is it time to stop growing? Can you think of anything that stops growing? The only time growth stops when life stops. We can choose not to grow. It is all in the choices we make that determine who we are and what we do. This is an essential lesson for all to learn.

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Maya Angelou

Creativity brings value to life. You can see, hear, feel and explore all elements. Through your imagination, you can expand on what everyone experiences to enhance with new thoughts. As a thinker and “tinker,” your intelligence leads you to fun, innovative ideas and attracts others to join in the fun! The essential part of creativity is seeing more solutions than problems, which is my style!

“Education has but one main purpose–to prepare students for the real world. To do that we need to get “real” in education.

Steve Revington

Since the pandemic has hit the past, yes, now three years have spotlighted education. I am an educator that is glad for the focus but would like to see more collaborative work than finger-pointing. Have there been many mistakes? I think there has been plenty, and I do not need to do a root cause analysis to determine where the source is before I can provide some solutions to help our children, staff, families, and communities. Put down the fingers, close the talking points, open your eyes and ears. Now let’s begin…

Time to talk 💬 Can I thank each of you who decided to follow and join this journey with me. I hope more join us, and I have a personal message to share with you at the end of this week. Many blessings to each of you!

Dream, Believe, Achieve, Dare-Do

There are many great men and women in our history we can celebrate, learn from, respect and model our actions. This week we began with a man famous for his speech, “I have a dream.” Dr. Martin Luther King not only had a dream he believed in, but he also believed in what could be achieved if we dared to do what he perfectly stated!

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

“I have a dream today . . .
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning. “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that. Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside. Let freedom ring . . .
When we allow freedom to ring—when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men, and white men, Jews, and Gentiles, Protestants, and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, We are free at last.”
Reprinted by arrangement with The Heirs to the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr., c/o Writers House as the proprietor New York, NY. Copyright: © 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. © renewed 1991, Coretta Scott King.

Also in our history are individuals or groups that made horrible mistakes, took steps, believed in things, and did things they achieved we do not find acceptable. We learned from those as well. It is essential to talk about all of them and build from the learning we discover, not divide, hide or devalue anyone as we move forward. I am thankful for all historians who have and continue to document for us these pieces, which are so valuable. If you have not explored museums, read some of these fantastic books, or speak to individuals who have experienced first-hand some of the historical events, don’t wait. I have been blessed to talk with military veterans Holocaust survivors and visit several museums.

Dream, Believe, Dare and Do is the business practice utilized by Disney. I incorporated this mindset in my approach to serving students in education. Walt Disney was a master at creating environments full of happiness, love, fun, and excitement. He was a servant leader, I believe.

Students in our care need to have dreams! Our staff does as well! The schoolhouse should be a place full of opportunities. Our beliefs in ourselves and each other push us to achieve! When we dare to take risks, think outside the box, and do the work, we find success.

I plan for all to believe; Two Rules can achieve great success for all who dare to do the work to implement the philosophy in their lives. Keep connecting, reading, and thinking! #Bethesolutiondaily

Say Cheese!

Celebrate today! It is National Cheese day! Eat some cheese, say some cheese, take a few cheese pictures, and cheese up the day the best way you can!

Share your pictures with others as we make this one “cheese” of a day!

Plan, Plan, Shelf

For many decades I have been involved with implementing a strategic plan, creating a plan, asking if we have a plan, writing a plan, and then watching plans sit on a shelf. My author friend and leader, Dr. Bill Donahue, knows how to conduct and implement a strategic plan. He shares in his recent post in Lead Change Carnival; Beyond Strategic Planning, exactly what questions we should ask when planning.

I am reminded of Alice in Wonderland when I think about making plans. Before you make a plan, don’t you need to have an idea of the direction you are going?

It seemed in education when it came time to develop an improvement plan or a district strategic plan, it was more about getting the task completed than digging in more profoundly to solve issues.

Hey, take down that improvement plan from the shelf, blow off the dust and let’s see if we can change the dates and turn it in.

Let’s hope this is not how it works in the school districts or buildings, but maybe in a few. Many levers are not being utilized as we work to make improvements, and now, with this pandemic, we have added additional levers.

Dr. Bill Donahue makes some incredible points to ponder. How are you planning? Step inside his post to discover thoughts.

More Need of Two…..

One of my amazing author friends, speaker, Thought Leader, Julie Winkle Giulioni, shares the importance of two words. The simplicity of two reaches out more than just in rules. When we look at our issues or problems in life, solutions at the surface level may be a quick fix, but an in-depth review and detailed information provide systemic results. Learn more about how you can engage in conversations to spark curiosity, innovation, and….if you pause to ask, ‘say more.’

Animals teach us well!

My daughter has always loved animals and rescued so many in need. She has carried this love into her adult life, passing it on to her children and probably to the children she teaches. At her home, you will find a variety of animals and, most importantly, love. One of my author friends highlighted lessons learned from dogs, and I have a few to share about other animals. Learning happens when we open our hearts, minds, and eyes to see through a different lens or way.

You can find the work of Wally Bock at the following links or follow him at @WallyBock on Twitter. He leaves you with five points you can learn from dogs and understand about people. Doggie point 4 is my favorite. “Sometimes the dog barks because another dog barks. People are like that, too. Sometimes they act thoughtfully. Sometimes they just go along with everyone else.”

Animals are all unique in their forms of communication and ways of life. One thing we all have in common is our instinct. Animals use their instincts and senses to be alerted to danger. We do the same thing. Sometimes we make mistakes because we do not follow our instincts.

What if we relied on only our senses to help us determine decisions or understand? One of my favorite books is a pop-up book titled Six Blind Men and the Elephant by Wayne Kalama. The story is a beautiful way to introduce to staff, students, and families the importance of each voice. The six men wanted to learn about the elephant. They used other senses to feel the elephant and contributed their opinion. Every single opinion is correct, but not entirely. Understanding the importance of listening to all, we can “see” the entire picture to know all parts—a great lesson in collaboration.

In our many books, we will find fables, short stories, and many comparisons to help us understand the meaning of points authors, writers, and leaders are trying to make. Lessons are learned in many ways.

We could be like an Ostrich with our heads in the sand or stretch out our necks like the Giraffe to see further. Courage to face issues as leaders are in how we see ourselves.

Celebrate Each Day! How?

We can find something to celebrate every day! The solution to the problem of negative effects is positive actions! If you want to turn problem frowns into solution smiles, find things to celebrate! My husband, Zeke, celebrates his birthday this week. He thinks we should celebrate every day, so we will! Why not! To prepare for the week of celebrations, you will be glad to know that today January 16, 2022, is National Nothing Day! So celebrate today by doing absolutely nothing to rest up for the rest of the celebrations this week!

Celebration Calendar

The place to find what to celebrate each day of the year!
  • January 16- National Nothing Day
  • January 17- Martin Luther King Birthday
  • January 18- National Winnie the Pooh Day
  • January 19- National Popcorn Day ( makes sense. It is my dad’s birthday)
  • January 20- National Cheese Lovers Day or Zeke’s Day in my house
  • January 21- National Hug Day (With COVID, I know we shouldn’t, but?)
  • January 22- National Blonde Brownie Day

Tag me @BrendaYoho on Twitter #️⃣ with a picture celebrating your favorite day this week. Also, on Instagram, brenda.yoho! I can’t wait to see your photos! I will share mine as well. If you find out how we can propose celebrating a day, let me know. I think we need a Be the Solution Daily Day! Thanks for being part of the solution! Celebrate!