F is for family

The school year has ended in many schools, but my daughter has a few more days left with her students. Each year she has a theme and spends a great deal of time investing in designing meaningful lessons that reach beyond her classroom.

Today was one of her letter days. Each letter represents a particular word and lesson. The children always look forward to these days. One of my favorites is P is for pancakes. They enjoy reading, measuring, mixing, and cooking up their pancakes.

She is a special needs teacher who sees the strengths in every child. Her school is located in a low economic setting. Many children she has had over the years have experienced some form of trauma. One of the most critical aspects of the job she believes is to provide positive supports, establish trusting relationships, and help children grow.

As I have watched her teach for years now, heard people describe her as an excellent teacher, and read notes from students and parents, the most crucial thing I see her do is to include everyone like family. There has never been a time in her life when anyone has ever been left out, felt different, or thought they were not welcome. Our family has always been this way, and she is teaching this to others.

Today was picture perfect with matching clothing for the entire classroom as they celebrated family day. The girls even got a little extra attention with painted nails (toes) at lunchtime. They gathered around to take family photos of their excellent school year.

This is the teaching children need in the classrooms across our country. Enjoy, respect, include and celebrate each other as a family. We are all in this world together to make it the best we can and these kids are on their way to brighter days. R is not about race but for respect. Respect for individuals and to appreciate each individual. C is not for critical but for courage. Courage to stand up for what you believe and to help another in need.

I know there is one classroom where children are happy each day. They know the adults at the school love them. The children work together to learn it is okay to be different, look different, and be unique. Every individual has great things to offer us.

I am beyond proud of her and what she does each day for children. She does the same as the mother of three exceptional children. I pray daily she can continue and other excellent teachers continue to provide for the children they serve. Lifting people is the solution and helping them to continue to grow.

Building Core Values

Organizations are made up of individuals. Individuals within every organization and workplace come with a set of values. However, as we join together to accomplish a mission, core values must become the foundation of the practices we use every day to perform our work and conduct ourselves.

We have lists of values and beliefs in our ever-changing world. There are a few core values that are constant and always remain. I believe this to be what keeps a democracy going and a society functioning. Looking around at the world in which we live, core values and beliefs have to remain.

Often when we think of core values for individuals, it is reflected in the character traits they display. We describe individuals using character trait descriptions like; loving, friendly, patient, and fair.

The importance of knowing what your core values are is essential. What is important to you? When an organization looks at its core values, it is critical to examine what core values describe your organization. As I began, you can list hundreds, but focusing on a few core values maintains a focus to ensure quality.

Creating core values for the organization should be unique, non-negotiable, and created together. One resource as an example is included in this link:

https://builtin.com/company-culture/company-core-values-examples

One issue I have seen in our community is a news station reporting on a traumatic event in the community. The news station reported in a biased way, according to the outcry in the community. Then advertisers with the news station responded with public statements and withdrawing their advertising. Understanding the role you play in your community is a crucial factor when making decisions that will directly impact them. I did not see the news segment or know much about the details of the incident, so I can only comment on reactions that have been shared. The news station has apologized for their actions, but I believe they continue to feel the pain of one decision.

Our society right now is in a fragile state. Knowing your core values and standing on them as a foundation is essential. If you have none, then you will fall for anything. We need strong advocates for the core values of the foundation built to stand on.

Make a list of the core values you have. Do they match what you are doing? How can you help improve the quality of value in what you do? Does your organization have a set of core values? Do you know them? Why/Why not?

Society works for all when we all work together with the core values we stand on Freedom, Integrity, Respect, Justice, Diversity, and Truth. There are depths to each of these words, and you could add more. As a nation, community, organization, and individuals, we need to look at core values. It is time to be the solution daily! Children depend on us to build a solid foundation to stand on, not one that can fall at any time.

Time matters..Wednesday Wisdom

Below is a great article to read as you think about solutions for your schools moving forward. Often in school improvement efforts, the time has been a talking point and added to programs with promises of improvements.

Time is a very fragile element we have limited control over. Additional time is not the solution alone. Please read the article and see if you come to the same conclusion. What solutions do you have for getting education back on track for students?

How You Use Time Matters More Than How Much You Have

How You Use Time Matters More Than How Much You Have

Clocks

Recent data on slowed learning growth and increased percentages of failures during the pandemic has schools across the country searching for ways to increase time. The theory of action is that if students have more time to receive instruction, they can make up learning growth and get back on track.

At first glance, this theory seems to make sense. After all, learning takes time, so more time must be the answer. However, an experiment tried by Washington D.C. schools presents a cautionary example of why such an approach may fall short.

A few years ago, D.C. Public Schools added twenty days to the school calendar on 13 of its lowest performing campuses. The increase meant that over the course of time these students spent in school up until eighth grade, they would add the equivalent of an additional year. The idea was simple. They expected that students in these struggling schools would benefit from having more time to learn. Test scores would improve, and the schools would become more successful. After three years the school district collected performance data for each school and discovered there was little evidence of any academic improvement. Attendance rates remained low, and reports of teacher burnout grew (Stein, 2019).

The fundamental flaw in the theory of action was assuming that just adding time would result in more learning. We cannot assume that doing more of what is not already working will somehow make it work better.

There was no evidence that the students involved were incapable of learning. Nor was there evidence that the teachers were incapable of or not committed to teaching. The problem was not the people.

This is not an argument that time doesn’t matter. However, adding time without changing instructional strategies and learner experiences offers little promise of improvement. As we think about efforts and initiatives to help students get back on track, we would do well to ask how the time that is available can be used to address the reasons for slippage in the pace of learning. We need to focus on how we might engage students in ways that lead to acceleration and recovery. Here are some ideas to consider.

We can start by reestablishing and reinforcing our relationships with students. This year has been one of isolation and loneliness for many students. Try as we might, we have not always been able to maintain strong, positive, influential relationships with many of our students, nor have they always been able to maintain relationships with each other. Now is a good time to refocus on relationships.

We can design learning experiences and opportunities that learners find attractive and engaging. Most educators and students are exhausted, especially with the often awkward and inefficient teaching and learning context we have experienced. What students find interesting and worth doing can be a good place to begin. Community-based experiences, gamification of content, and project and problem-based activities can offer the connections students find worthwhile, while also learning academic content.

In areas of learning where students need to fill skill and knowledge gaps, we can focus on essentials. We can design experiences that are focused and efficient while looking for hooks and pulls to engage students. Resorting to instructional strategies and structures that did not work the first time hold little promise of producing different outcomes now.

As much as practical, we can cluster students with classmates who are friends and acquaintances they may have missed if they spent the past year in remote instruction. Recreating familiar learning groups and clusters can reduce awkwardness and increase social support. We can also employ social learning strategies such as having students work in pairs, groups, and teams as they learn.

Of course, we need to begin learning and instructional activities in response to learner readiness. We do little to stimulate and build learning confidence and skills when we ask students to learn what they are not ready to learn or lack adequate background knowledge and skills in to be successful.

Stein, P. (2019, February 21) District eliminates extended school year, invests more in classroom technology. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/district-eliminates-extended-school-year-invests-more-in-classroom-technology/2019/02/21/e9478500-3484-11e9-a400-e481bf264fdc_story.html

Thoughts?

Education for many students wrapped up for the 20-21 school year. My parents pushed me to get an education as they were not able to receive it. What do you think? Is education the way to change the world?

What does this statement mean?

Do you agree with this statement? Is this how we are currently moving our educational system to meet the needs of our students?

Today’s posts are thoughts to ponder and to share. I believe children deserve the best we have to prepare for the future. They need opportunities to think critically, be innovative; opportunities to lead, and be exposed to high expectations with curriculum to meet these needs.

Education is an essential part of our society. Many changes have occurred and are proposed. It is important to know what is happening and voice your opinion. Be the solution today for the future of children everywhere.

Monday reminder-We are the World (Children)

The end of the school year came for many children across the country. Students were graduating and being promoted to the next grade level. My grandson was one of those who proudly completed his Kindergarten school year. He joined the big stage of his K-6 building to be presented with a medal and certificate for Citizenship.

My grandchildren received other academic accomplishments but have been consistent in demonstrating citizenship and a strong moral compass.

As we begin a Monday, pause and enjoy the efforts of this great school, fantastic teacher, and talented children. Our children are the world, and their compass is essential as they guide the future.

Click on this link to the article and video. You do not want to miss this video! https://www.wlky.com/article/watch-s-indiana-elementary-school-kids-adorably-sing-we-are-the-world/36523056

Sunday Stretch

While you enjoy a little time relaxing, it is an excellent time to stretch your mind on a Sunday! Riddles, puzzles, and trying to figure out a “who done it” mystery are my favorites!

Riddle 1 What is the longest word in the dictionary?

Riddle 2 What occurs once in every minute, twice in every moment, yet never in a thousand years?

Riddle 3 Blue lives in the blue house, Mr. Pink lives in the pink house, and Mr. Brown lives in the brown house. Who lives in the white house?

Riddle 4 What is something you will never see again?

Answers:

Riddle 1
Ans: Smiles, because there is a mile between each “s”

Riddle 2
Ans: The letter m

Riddle 3
Ans: The President

Riddle 4
Ans: Yesterday

What kind of tree can you hold in your hand?

The Answer is 46. First number on the right hand side the second number in the left side of equation and second number on the right side the sum of two numbers on the left side.

The Answer is 20.

More puzzles at https://www.brainsyoga.com

How about a murder mystery party at home? https://ruthware.com/murdermysterypartygame I am hoping I can try this out this summer! Something fun to do with family and friends!

Enjoy a blessed day!

Thoughts to ask, Think it Through

Today is a new day! A gift to unwrap full of opportunities! What will it bring today? It begins with the choices I make to start the journey today that leads the way.

As we set out each day in our life journey, our purposes drive us to achieve as we move toward our destination. We need to see results in our daily efforts that are helping us inch closer to the goal.

I ask, do you find yourself stopping to ask: Is it more important to have results or to enjoy the journey?

I ask this question because I have set my expectations to grow my foundation of followers. I have established this goal to demonstrate to publishers that I am ready to move forward with my book. I do not look at this as a task but a journey.

I need results to demonstrate growth as a writer and author. To show people are interested, inspired, and seek to learn more from me. However, the number of followers is not as significant to me as the journey itself.

It would be amazing to have thousands of followers, as I see on other author sites. I am an unknown individual who people get to know about one post at a time. It is exciting when we can connect, and I have had a few who we have had conversations together.

If my words can help one individual, they are worth sharing. My writing journey has provided me with joy. I am involved with so many different circles of authors, book marketers, editors, bloggers, and my list could go on. The enrichment of my learning and motivation is attributed to all of those in my current journey.

So going back to the question to “Think Thoughtfully on Thursday, ”: Is it more important to have results or enjoy the journey?

Can you have both? I think so! I hope so. If not, I choose to enjoy the journey. The journey provides many learning opportunities, focuses on skills you may not have had before, invites new people into your life, and highlights something bigger than you.

What do you think? Do you have a destination you are trying to reach? Is it the journey or the results that drive you?

What is the solution? If you know a better way to get my results to let me know, but in the meantime, I will enjoy this journey. Enjoy your journey as well! If you think I can help you, please let me know. There is nothing I am advertising for sale. Just trying to help other travelers on great journeys to destinations of success!

SHINE

“It only takes a spark to get a fire going.” The first line in the song Pass It On. It was in our red hymnal books at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. I wanted to sing it every Sunday. It was and still is a favorite song.

I can hear parts of these lyrics in many of the current Christian songs that I love as well like, Start a Fire by Unspoken. “ You only need a spark to start a whole blaze.”

My husband and I were driving through our hometown on our way to watch our grandson’s first baseball game of the season. We went through several familiar places on the way to his game in the neighboring state. We live right on the border, so crossing back and forth between States is standard practice.

We had time, due to a rain delay, to stop and eat before the game. We ordered a modest meal, and we’re finishing up when the waitress said, “Your bill is paid; the man who was at the table behind you paid it.” What? Who was he? We didn’t get to thank him.

Puzzled by this act of kindness, we asked the waitress again who this man was. She said, “I think that lady over there knew who he was. Do you want me to ask her?” Yes, please.

She comes back with a name and a story that he is disabled. He is getting ready to have surgery, and he took a meal home to his mother. Now we had our entire section talking with us about this man. We shared how just last week, we were at a different restaurant and saw a lady I use to babysit for as a teen. We paid for her meal.

We gave our waitress who was working so hard a big tip equal to the cost of our meals. It was a very nice moment of a person shining bright without anyone seeing at the time, but learning from his acts.

After the game, we were driving home and looking at this community. It was so well maintained, had a display box house on a post full of books with a sign to take one and return one. The playground was beautiful, with tennis courts, basketball courts, and a swimming pool. The light was shining brightly for this community. They are proud, respectful, and appreciate all they have. It is a modest community with hard-working individuals.

What is the secret? I do not think it is a secret. It is having a community that works, supports, and respects together. They hold each other accountable for all of those things. Everyone knows everyone! It’s not about “keeping up with the Jones’s,” it is maintaining respect for all.

Let your light shine as you are the solution daily. Making a difference every day adds up to solutions for better tomorrow’s.

Do you have a Scary Words Box?

As a teacher, I had a word wall. It was always fun to add words to our wall. We enjoyed adding the words and randomly selecting a word to use for the day.

Entering into the administrative world, I did not want to leave the teaching fun behind. I added a word of the week in our main hallway. Kids could add sentences to include the word of the week, provide a definition of the word or use it in a joke. I would give prizes to those who participated.

While sitting in the doctor’s office, I heard for the second day in a row one of my scary words. That is when I thought everyone needs a scary words box.

Let’s think about all of the things we have all been through and how things can pop up by surprise, and boom, fear sets in. If we can allow individuals to pick a scary word or words and place it in a box, we can begin to help them deal with issues together. My first thoughts are of children. It is difficult to talk about scary stuff, but if we have a platform making it safe to do so, then the sharing can begin, along with solutions.

My name is Brenda, and my scary word is cancer. I can write this on a piece of paper. The teacher can give me a chance to share, place it in the box to share later, or put it in the box to be read out loud with no name. Then we can all talk about it together.

You can do this with adults as well. It provides a way to help others safely address issues. Sometimes the scary words need professionals to help, and we need to build up relationships to help everyone understand if the words shared could harm you or someone else, we need to ask for help.

Help your children and staff address issues they are facing. It begins with opportunities to share, trust, listen and find solutions together. Some of the issues we face will need professional help, but it is the comfort we find in being heard and supported.

Words have power. We should always be careful in how we use them. It is also a great reminder to remember; power is given. Give power to your belief in healing, positive thoughts, and in the support you have. As an educator, I worked to help children overcome and prevent bullying. If we pause to look honestly at things clearly, our children are facing bullying on a larger scale today.

Be the solution daily; we need you!

Why? This is a question I ask daily

I keep myself sheltered as much as possible from daily negativity. It is never good for anyone’s health to keep negative influences in your life daily. However, it would help if you kept yourself informed of current events to support others and yourself.

Statistics of the number of violent incidents, shootings, and crimes are on the rise. It is a regular news item that people become used to, I think; why?

“Deadliest weekend of the year in Chicago: 12 killed, 42 wounded in shootings”-Sun-Times, Chicago. May 24, 2021

“6-Year-Old Costa Mesa Boy Dies In Road Rage Shooting On 55 Freeway In City Of Orange” -CBSLN May 21,2021

“4-Year-Old Boy Found Dead on Dallas Street Was Sleeping When He Was Stolen Out of His Crib, Affidavit Says”-Inside Edition May 19,2021

I took just a few headlines from the news that stopped me. I froze when reported. No words could come to add anything to these incidents.

My solution for these continued acts of violence on our communities across our nation is this:

  • Start with the question, why? It is not because we have guns. Discuss why someone would want to cause harm or kill another person.
  • Why are people angry? In your discussions, ask this question. Think about how we got to the point of so much anger. It is not because of races, places, spaces or faces. It is about human relations! When we teach division, we get division. We have worked hard on bringing people together, and now we are pushing them apart.
  • Where do people belong in your community? Do you know the people in your neighborhood? What do they need to lift themselves up? We do not need to be enablers but teachers. “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed himfor a lifetime.”
  • In the home is where we can help. Families today have a great deal on their plates. Find ways not to judge, not to be enabling but supportive. Discover what is needed a help them establish these needs.

Action Steps

  • Mental health services available in the community: make these part of your organization’s space, promote a partnership, place positive messages that it is okay!
  • Stop dividing people! No more talk about race, gender, or who you are as an individual to divide us. We will not keep making individuals feel like there is something wrong with them based on their skin color, gender, or who they are. It is the content of their character that defines them. The story written on their heart they portray to the world is “who they are.” I will not spend my life being a color but an individual focused on solutions for all human races.
  • “Won’t you be my neighbor” comes from a time when TV provided children with a daily dose of how to deal with society changes? Currently, there are not many opportunities for children to receive this messaging. As a community, establish a community group. Work as a group to determine needs. What can you do together to support each other?
  • As an organization, establish a community group. Invite businesses, community organizations, police departments, schools, and neighborhood groups together.
  • Generate a list of community needs.
  • Establish committees
  • Action plans/timelines
  • Necessary to keep this statement fresh in front of all members: Families love their children and are doing a great job with all they have to care for them. It is up to us to help lift them up to continue to serve with more. We are not enablers but providers of additional tools.

I am happy to help anyone with tackling this with your organization or school. We all have to make this a priority in order to move forward together in healing a nation from a pandemic with aftershocks. Be the solution daily for a brighter tomorrow.