Thoughtful…Thoughts on a Thursday

#Bethesolutiindaily

What do you want out of life? What do you want to be when you grow up? What are you going to do when you graduate from high school?

I am sure you have been asked these questions or asked them, but are they the right questions? Let’s give a little thought to them today.

One of my high school teachers had great insight as she leads our class in a discussion about real-life after asking some of these questions to our senior class. She told us, “Life is not a fairy tale where everything turns out positively with a fairy godmother granting wishes.” We were in her home economics class discussing family life. She was a great teacher who really knew how to grab our attention. Many of us were in serious relationships and already talking about marriage at the age of 17, myself included.

Mrs. Beth Moore decided a mock wedding and designing household budgets would be great ways to learn. We even had additions to our families to care for as we went along. It was a great learning experience! Budgets, unexpected bills, loss of jobs, arguments and great discussions.

I carried with me those lessons as I did marry my high school sweetheart at the age of 19, and our life journey has been full of opportunities! The struggles, success, and sickness reminded us of what we wanted. We are blessed with three grandchildren and a life that continues to provide opportunities.

Positive experiences are easy to handle. It is when negative effects come crashing in unexpectedly you feel overwhelmed and want to give up. The struggles we have experienced together and the individual ones brought strength in our abilities to overcome. However, it also gave gratitude for the struggles in order to appreciate what we have today.

Are we able to provide Mrs. Moore’s lessons today for our students? Can we change our questions to include, “What are you willing to work for?” “What struggles will you face? “Can you work through struggles to achieve your goals?”

My husband joined the United States Navy. I had never been away from home. We left after our wedding with everything we owned in a mustang car with a storage topper. He made $800.00 a month. We had a car payment, rent and utility, and groceries to pay for each month. Not a lot to work with each month. We made it work.

We are going through difficult times today as a nation. The challenges we face are examples for our children on how to make it through traumatic events. Children are facing severe issues as well, and we must not forget them. They lack socialization, regular routines, and the many fears they have all need to be addressed.

All hands on deck to address the issues for our children. They need to be back in school, involved in activities, and back on track for their goals. They have struggled and will continue to work. The struggle they are experiencing now has gone on too long; it will break many of them if we do not intervene soon.

Children need guidance in life lessons to navigate through the hurdles. Make thoughtful action plans to address the needs of all children, staff, families, and communities. It will take all of us working together to create an environment for healing and growth.

Make a plan today to change the lives of tomorrow who will shape the future! Ask different questions, listen more than telling, and support through thought fullness.

Wednesday Words, they matter!

#Bethesolutiondaily

I want to give you a peace of mind. No, not a piece of mind! Words and their usage can be confusing. When you add-in tone, body language and biases, then it rises to a deeper level.

Language used in any setting influences those who are receiving the communication. They can recognize the power in the words from the tone, word choice, body language combined with the individual’s position.

Teachers in a class setting can influence the learners they serve in many ways: the actions, tones, and word choices. Students’ identities as learners are influenced by the power the learner gives to the teacher. Student demeanor, engagement, and outlook can change based on the language used by the teacher. There will always be exceptions and variables, but our responsibility is to set the standard high for communication to be at a level of positivity.

Knowing the responsibility, we have placed on the teaching staff to build relationships with students and families and focusing on the language of positivity. We as leaders need to do the same. How does our language help feed our staff with the fuel they need to feedback to their students as they work to feed up?

In my previous blogs I have talked about communication. Think about the last communication you had with staff? Was it a memo? An evaluation discussion? How about an email or text? What about that social media post?

I hope you are able to reflect and look at all of your forms of communication to see how others may feel, react, respond and react to your communications. Now think about communications you receive. Ask yourself the same questions. Language, words spoken, words heard, body and tone all play essential parts in our communication.

I am a firm believer in teaching vocabulary to students. Utilize positive talk for a supportive and encouraging climate. As an evaluator, it is essential to provide feedback vital to improvement. Feedback that feeds the moral, provides guidance and self-worth.

I am providing some links to additional articles from ASCD to continue your look at language. In addition, Larry Bell provided many years ago 12 powerful words students should know in order to understand questions on assessments. Vocabulary is essential for students. We will look at that topic more on a future blog.

My final piece is a poem by Charles Osgood. How many times have we responded to a question with “pretty good”? Words matter! Be careful not to settle for “pretty good.”

Resources@bethesolutiondaily

https://www.larry-bell.com 12 powerful words

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept08/vol66/num01/The-Power-of-Our-Words.aspx

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb14/vol71/num05/Words-That-Encourage.aspx

Pretty Good by Charles Osgood

There once was a pretty good student
Who sat in a pretty good class
And was taught by a pretty good teacher
Who always let pretty good pass.
He wasn’t terrific at reading,
He wasn’t a whiz-bang at math,
But for him, education was leading
Straight down a pretty good path.
He didn’t find school too exciting,
But he wanted to do pretty well,
And he did have some trouble with writing
Since nobody taught him to spell.
When doing arithmetic problems,
Pretty good was regarded as fine.
5+5 needn’t always add up to be 10;
A pretty good answer was 9.
The pretty good class that he sat in
Was part of a pretty good school,
And the student was not an exception:
On the contrary, he was the rule.
The pretty good school that he went to
Was there in a pretty good town,
And nobody there seemed to notice
He could not tell a verb from a noun.
The pretty good student in fact was
Part of a pretty good mob.
And the first time he knew what he lacked was
When he looked for a pretty good job.
It was then, when he sought a position,
He discovered that life could be tough,
And he soon had a sneaking suspicion
Pretty good might not be good enough.
The pretty good town in our story
Was part of a pretty good state
Which had pretty good aspirations
And prayed for a pretty good fate.
There once was a pretty good nation
Pretty proud of the greatness it had,
Which learned much too late,
If you want to be great,
Pretty good is, in fact, pretty bad.

Time to talk about your why and Research

#Bethesolutiondaily

Data, data and more data. Data-driven decision making is what drives improvement. Are we doing this? Are we seeing results? Do we hear our teams saying, “we are data rich and information poor”? Is the data we are collecting the right data? Is it the data making the difference?

Professor John Hattie has conducted research, written several books, completed many talks, and has shared significant findings to help all educators. I had the honor of listening to him talk again last night and have enjoyed all of my learning from him the past few years. His goal of finding the greatest impact on student achievement provided us with Visible Learning.

Visible Learning research identified over 250 factors influencing student achievement. He calculated an average effect size of these factors to find 0.4 as a marker for one-year growth.

Education research can feel overwhelming and can be something people want to avoid. The work has been done for us by Hattie; now we need to look at where we are in order to make decisions to improve. How to apply the work he has done with our why?

Visible Learning research provided a great deal of information for us to examine. The first influence to focus on is how teachers think about learning and the impact of their role.

“The important thing for successful leaders is not what they do; much more important is how and why they do what they do.” -Simon Sinek—understanding the “why” is essential in all we do in and out of the classroom. When the “why” drives what we are doing, outcomes are different. It is the passion, heart, inspiration, and foundation of our core values driving our purpose. Please watch as Simon Sinek explains the why.

https://www.ted.com/talks simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare

The book 10 Mindframes for Visible Learning Teaching for Success by John Hattie and Klaus Zierer is an excellent choice for your instructional team. The chapters are designed with the ten mind frames, a reflection piece, questions at the conclusion, and a checklist. Investing in the time with your instructional team is essential in feeding forward positive results.

Education is something we do with children not to them. Helping teachers understand their impact and guiding students into their ownership in learning is my goal as we work together through these blogs.

Next week during our Tuesday Talk, we will focus more on teaching and learning with Visible Learning. I will leave you with additional resources to have to begin your discussions with teams. Please drop me a comment if you have specific areas you want to focus on, questions you have or ideas. I will get the information you need to help you and your team.

Thank you for #Bethesolutiondaily

Resources for Visible Learning

https://www.visiblelearningmetax.com/

https://visible-learning.org/

https://us.corwin.com/en-us/nam/visible-learning

Finding Focus for Solutions- Suicide Prevention


Is the Pandemic Fueling A rise In Suicide Attempts Among kids? Shots-Health News: NPR

A cluster of suicides in Las Vegas, plus a troubling rise in youth suicide attempts observed in ER nationwide, is raising fears that the pandemic is fueling a children’s mental health crisis- Read on at https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/02/02/962060105/child-psychiatrists-warn-that-the-pandemic-may-be-driving-up-kids-suicide-risk?s=09

Suicide Prevention is a priority for me, as I know it is for so many others. This pandemic has highlighted the importance of mental health and recognizes the need to support schools in helping to meet all of the needs of the students they serve.

If you have lost someone to suicide, you understand the emotions and questions it brings. I cannot state the names of those I have lost; I can only share the countless conversations held over decades regarding possible suicide, school-wide campaigns to prevent suicide, and strategies to use for self-care.

Running to me were two young sisters with tears flowing, arms wrapping around me and a mother looking at me with eyes full of sadness. Next to the mother was the beautiful youngest daughter, the sister who always reminded me she did not get to have me as a teacher like her sisters. Serving as Assistant Principal, for a short time before the family had moved away, I felt the pain for the family.

She had always dealt with low self-esteem, bullying, and not finding where she fits in. I had talked a great deal with all of them about strategies, things to do, and help to seek out. Why at age 16? Questions and emotions come flooding in.

It is essential to talk with, watch for signs, look for changes, monitor computer usage, and many other differences you see in your child. There is not a magic age number as this pandemic is showing suicide rates at very young ages. Please continue reading on ways you can help—advocate for more services for our children.

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/02/02/962185779/make-space-listen-offer-hope-how-to-help-a-child-at-risk-of-suicide?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social

Monday Memo, Starting with a purpose

#Bethesolutiondaily

Free, Enter to win, Last chance to receive are great ways to draw attention to your memo to get people to read. But do we want people to read the memo or do something because they read it? Better yet, do we want them to be inspired, feel empowered, know they belong to a purpose, understand the role they play? Why are you writing a memo?

Writing clear memos is essential to communicating effectively. Memos help in many ways as they can help: solve problems, clarify calendar events, discuss strategies, promote community events, opportunities for reflection and so much more. However, before you begin to write memos know the purpose you want to accomplish.

PURPOSE

Know why you are writing the memo

In my decades of education experience, I can tell you my memos when I first started were a “hot mess.” I crammed everything in them with no apparent purpose, did not proofread them, no validation of the dates, and there was a great deal of telling going on.

MISSION STATEMENT

Always have mission statement on all communications

As I grew, I understood more about what is needed in a climate and culture of teaching and learning. The most essential item I believe should always be present on communications is the mission statement. This is what we are always working on and should always be the focus of our communication, decisions and practices.

CLARITY

Keep it short, to the point, use bullet points

Memos should not be overwhelming to those who are on the receiving end. Could you make them with bullet points, short, focused sentences, or in a clarifying way? Make them appealing to the reader and easy to find for verification. A calendar of events is an example with a box around it. Be creative in your delivery. I will work to add some example memos to my website for your use.

RESOURCES

One of the resources I used during my career was The Marshall Memo. I believe there is a small charge now to receive these emails, but they are packed full of great information he has gathered to keep you focused on bringing relevant content to your staff. Check it out at http://www.marshallmemo.com In addition, I also utilized The Master Teacher which offers support for Superintendent, Principal, Teaching, Teaching Assistants and more. https://www.masterteacher.com/

Tell us Thursday! No, I don’t think so!

“Take these test papers home and have a parent sign them. Bring them back and place on my desk tomorrow. Make sure your parents go over these tests with you.”

Sally took her test paper from the teacher and saw the big red F. It was math, and she was not doing so well after being gone for her grandmother’s illness and funeral. It was tough seeing her grandmother so sick in the hospital and then dying.

Sally took the paper home. Her dad worked the second shift, so it was just her and her mom. She took out the math test and told her mom all about it. Math was not her mother’s subject either but she signed the test to put in her book bag.

The next morning after the family breakfast, it was off to school. Dad had to go back to work early for overtime, so he was leaving too.

Sally took out her things and then walked up to place the test on the teacher’s desk. As she was walking back to her seat she heard.

“Sally, what in the world is this. You did not have your mother sign this. This looks like you tried to sign your mother’s name. Get out to the hallway now!”

Everyone was looking at her. She went to the hallway as the teacher followed. The teacher went to the classroom next door and was telling her I had signed my mother’s name to my test. I need you to watch my class so I can go down to call home.

“Call home? Oh no, she can’t call home. This will be horrible for my mom. How embarrassing for my mom.”

“Please, don’t call home.”

Too late, you should have thought about that before you lied and cheated. Now sit here with your head against the wall.

Both classrooms were looking at Sally as tears fell from her eyes. The tears were for her mother not for herself, but no one asked; they were telling. If the teacher would have asked Sally privately the true story could have been told. It would have saved the humiliation of many that day!

The truth behind this story is about a young 3rd-grade girl who was very shy and kept to herself. Her mother did sign the test paper but the teacher thought it was a forged signature because of all the eraser marks.

See, my parents did not have an education, but they respected it. Teachers were important people. My mother had the most beautiful handwriting; she could only write her name. She wanted it to be perfect for the teacher. This is why it was erased so many times. It was going to the teacher so it needed to be perfect.

I did not want the teacher to call home because I did not want my mom to be embarrassed. She had cried so much and lost her mom; she did not need the teacher yelling at her too. I did not want the teacher to think poorly of my mom because she did not have an education. She was the best mom anyone could ask for.

My older sister was at home when the teacher called. I was so thankful she came to the school. She asked if I wanted to go home and I did. The teacher looked at me but never apologized for anything to me. Maybe she was humiliated. Probably not as I look back. Still, I wouldn’t say I like math because of that dumb math test!

This real story in my life was brought back to my attention as I read Humble Inquiry by Edgar Schein. The book begins by pointing out three kinds of humility. The three kinds are: Basic humility, Optional humility, and Here-and-now humility.

Basic humility is a social position people are born into. Optional humility is a status achieved by accomplishments in their life that are more than we have, so we respect or envy them. Here-and-now humility is a temporary feeling when we are dependent on another for a task, need, or support. An example would be a doctor in an operating room with several different people. They could be of varying status levels. They depend on each other to complete the surgery with success.

I was worried that my mom would be humiliated (embarrassed). She thought highly of the teacher and would not want to be called out about her signature. The teacher had Optimal humility.

I am looking forward to the second edition of Humble Inquiry! Please order your copy now on Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1523092629?pf_rd_r=H69DKNZTN8Y17PG0603Q&pf_rd_p=5ae2c7f8-e0c6-4f35-9071-dc3240e894a8&pd_rd_r=38dbd04c-aaa7-4108-9336-cb2be3ecde88&pd_rd_w=gLZQ0&pd_rd_wg=6yhst&ref_=pd_gw_unk

In our society in general, we do a great deal of telling. My story is from many years ago, but it is still relevant. Do we ask the right questions? Most importantly, do we listen? Do we acknowledge?

I have lots of books about communication. I believe this is a skill needing improvement! The first step to better communication is Humble Inquiry as we ask the right questions and move away from just telling.

Humble yourself today as you begin to be the solution daily.

Words of Wisdom-Wednesday

Today is a gift; unwrap it with care as you share with others. It will continue to provide if you are wise. ~B.Yoho

Authors spend many hours filling blank pages with words they hope will inspire, engage, create feelings, promote innovation, and so much more. It is through this work they desire feedback to validate and encourage them to continue to produce more for us to consume and enjoy.

Do you have a favorite author, quote, or individual who provides the spark you need to lift you? Have you ever considered yourself as an individual who does that for someone else? Another question, do you provide opportunities for others to share their words of wisdom?

My life journey has given me opportunities to recognize the importance of every day. I have always said today is a gift be careful about how you unwrap it. Students would look at me with a puzzled look. When they did, this allowed me to explain my thought. It goes like this:

This morning when you woke up, it was your gift to start the day. Maybe it greeted you with bright sunlight, new snow, or dark rain clouds. Right then, you had a choice in how you were going to begin to unwrap your day. Everything is about the choices you make. We have no control of the weather, but we do control how we react. So do you greet with a smile to breakthrough any clouds, a frown to block out the sunlight, or tears to add to the muddy pathways?

How you start to unwrap your day helps to keep it going smoothly! Have you ever had a gift with too much tape or hard to get open? Some days are just like those gifts! So you tackle those with additional tools to help you make adjustments. Sometimes you ask for help, look at it from a different angle, or take a break and deep breath to try again.

The most important thing to remember is, this day is your gift. You can control the choices you make today because they can help or hurt tomorrow’s gift.

Then I always summed up my story with my famous phrase they could all repeat. You can choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution, the choice is always mine to make.

You can be part of the problem or part of the solution;
the choice is yours to make

It is my hope people will begin to share with me, connect with me, and I can help lift them. I believe we have great leaders, teachers, and children. I want to help with the mindset of we can.

http://bethesolution.com

Make Monday’s Matter!

#Bethesolutiondaily

The weekend is over! Tomorrow is Monday! Oh boy, here we go.

Monday seems to get a negative vibe without even giving it a chance sometimes. Each day is a gift in itself if we shift our minds into thinking things differently!

In my career, I have always mixed up the days by calling them something different to change the tones. I did this as a Teaching Assistant and through my various positions in education.

Each day brings to each of use different challenges, choices, experiences, hope, rewards and sometimes hardships. It is in those areas we grasp our need to reach out for support to help us.

Solutions to our situations may not always be a quick answer, but a moment of encouragement can free the mind to have a sliver of hope needed to move to the next hurdle.

Life is not easy and unfortunately, our children are seeing those times right now. We have to all agree the pandemic has touched every life! Lives have been changed at different levels.

It is up to us to begin today to always make Monday matter and each day after that. Positive, optimistic, and supportive confirmation to those we serve will provide them with the push needed to face those barriers in front of them.

I will continue to share more ideas for themes you can use, but if you need help, please reach out to me. I am happy to help any of you make a difference in the lives of those you serve. Blessings to all on a meaningful Monday!

@bethesolutiondaily

Wednesday Wisdom @ASCD

Tuesday Talk: What do you say?

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What do you tell your students, staff and families?

We are always told to welcome and greet students each day. Making sure we check in with students helps to connect them to our school and classroom. Additionally, the morning meeting provides opportunities to identify any issues to address early to prevent from escalating to something more.

How do we end our day with students? What do we do to ensure they will transition from school to home in a positive way? This helps our bus drivers with those sometimes long commutes! Also, our children may be going home alone or to take on the role of caring for siblings.

Do we reflect on the partnership we have with parents in helping with these transitions from home to school and school to home? Lots of things happen in between we all need to know to help better serve the needs of all.

There is a great deal to know about every story behind every child. Daily they provide us with looks into the pages, but never a full read from cover to cover.

During my years as principal I served students in high poverty areas where gangs were present and so many other issues facing them. We designed many programs, strategies, approaches and curriculum to support their needs. We were adding layers and layers still never seeming to be enough.

My students knew my vision, beliefs and expectations. They could repeat my words, would freely come to talk to me about issues and most importantly, understood I would never give up on them! How do I know? Let me share just one story I struggle with because I just do. I will not say his name but will call him Jay!

Jay entered middle school in 6th grade as part of our AVID (Achievement via Individual Determination) program. He continued with excellent grades until 7th grade we started having a few issues. By 8th grade a complete breakdown and removal from the program, an arrest by the police and involvement with gangs.

The story is missing many parts, interventions, conversations, and interactions we had together. My story had some changes during that time as well. He was preparing for high school and I was transferring to the central office.

I had fantastic staff members who recognized this was a difficult transition for me. They organized a special gift for me by having some of the students I worked with the most sign a message to me on a beautiful picture of a tree with a quote. Jay’s message meant a great deal to me. “Thank you for never giving up on me.”

He would see me at the high school when I would go to visit and he would make sure to come to talk to me. Then he found himself in trouble again and again.

No matter where I went I always placed students and families first. No matter what meeting I was in my staff knew to interrupt if it involved them.

A note came to me while I was attending a central office meeting stating my secretary was on the phone and needed me. I asked to me excused.

“You told me to interrupt you if a student called you and needed you. I have one on the phone.”

“Thank you, transfer to me.” Mrs. Yoho, he said

“Jay, what is going on?”

“You said we could always call for help. I need help with bus transportation to school my mom kicked me out.”

I went to pick him up, got the transportation arranged, provided my cell phone number and talked with his principal.

In the car to take him to his grandmother’s where he was living, we had a chance to talk briefly. Jay told me I had saved his life more than once and he was trying to do better. He was praying and doing all the things I had talked to him about. He said, “You never give up on me.” Absolutely not! I believe in you! I know how smart you are and I trust you. Call me anytime you need help and I will do what I can. “Thank you.” were the last words I heard from him.

The newscaster came on to say 18-year-old found in running vehicle with a gunshot to the head. His name is…. My heart sunk, I gasped for air and heard myself saying why did you not call me one more time.

Jay is one story of many we take home with us. The trauma our children experience we experience second hand. We have to recognize these in order to care for ourselves. Jay and I obviously had built a relationship spacing many years. I have many stories to tell about him and so many others. I have more heartwarming stories than heartbreaking ones.

My husband was always concerned for my safety because I never hesitated to help children. Yes, Jay had gang involvement, gun charges, and not the best record. As I started, I trusted my kids, they trusted me (even when I had to pass out discipline), and their families knew me.

Jay’s death hit me hard as I saw a young man who had everything against him but was so smart, funny, handsome, such a personality, and so much in front of him. Don’t we want to save everyone?

What we say is heard by the ears of those we don’t think are listening. Are our ears, eyes, and mind open to what is being told to us? We cannot control everything, but we can continue to make strides in improving.

I dedicate my days to continue helping others break down the barriers to help children overcome to find their success. We each have a story, obstacles of our own, but we all can overcome them with the right resources, people, and supports.

Please find supports to help your students and families. However, most importantly, have a wellness plan to support all of your staff who experience second-hand trauma daily. They are building relationships with children and families. When things are not going well for the people, we serve it weighs on us as well.

Gears turning

#Bethesolutiondaily

Are your gears turning? What gears am I talking about? As a child, you may have heard; I can see those gears turning.

We know they were referring to our thinking ability. I may be showing my age! I am hoping someone has heard it!

In my husband’s business, it means those big motors you see in big industry plants or motors farmers use to help their crops. It can be busy at times.

In my world, gears connect to a shaft, which is the vision of the district. Vision is the solid foundation to maintain the focus of what we are doing as a group. It is who we are.

The gear is put into place, and the work begins. Gears are the mission that indicates the importance of what we do to accomplish the vision. The clarification of each gear ensures a focus on the action steps’ to achieve the vision. It is like the Cheshire Cat saying, “If you don’t know where you want to go, then it doesn’t matter which path you take.”

Core values and beliefs provided by the staff is the oil used for the gears to fit into place with support. When the fuel from family and community turn the gears in the right direction, it can all come together.

Vision, Mission, Core Values, Collaboration with family and community you will have students achieving. Building a system focused on this structure positive outcomes follow.

I had the opportunity to hear Robyn Jackson speak today and it was terrific. She has a great plan on how to look at Vision, Mission, and Core Values as a way to anchor your district or school to handle anything. You can get through this pandemic with those three Anchors and a focused approach! Please check out Robyn Jackson’s books and her website https://mindstepsinc.com/ @Robyn_Mindsteps

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