The Choice is Always Yours to make

As I was talking with my friend last night, I discovered something about choice. In my career over the past decades, I have been saying the choice is yours to make may not be the entire picture.

We were catching up on lots of things when I said, “I had an off day today; I just could not get into writing.” She said, “I have days I don’t feel like going to work, but I don’t have a choice.” Now, this puts a spin on things!

My husband and her husband join us in the kitchen area later. As we enjoy dinner and conversation, they bring up more ideas about choice and work. Zeke says, “My sister told me that many times new nurses would call-off work because they need a day to go get nails done or something. They have no regard for the level of need for the care of others.” Our friend said, “Yes, workers do not have the work ethic that is needed.”

Reflecting on all of the conversations and thinking about my statement, I still stand by it. It is our choice in what we do. We have freedom of choice. We decide how we react to situations. It is our morals and values that determine our choices.

In our society, right now, we are faced with unusual circumstances. We have a global pandemic we have been going through, raising our fear levels, sparking anger from decisions being made, dealing with isolation, depression, and other mental health issues. The violence, riots, killings, stealing, and the list can go on—all choices in response to other choices, a chain reaction.

The choices we make always affect others. They affect us, but others as well. We have to and must learn from the past. History is so vital because of choice. We learn from it as we study the choices made by those in the past, leading us to what we have today. Our world is changing daily.

Another blogger Steve Keating wrote a piece on five choices that change everything I have included for you also to check out. I believe it is essential to surround yourself with others who can lift you, help you question, support you, and encourage you. I may not have many friends in my little circle, but they keep me focused on my values, morals, and what is important to me. Thank you for being part of the solution daily.

Thought for the day

One of my former Superintendent’s arrived early to work, and I did too. I would send out a “Monday Morning Message” of inspiration. He would usually be one of the first to receive it. Sometimes he would call my office, email me or call me down to talk about items for the week and my “Hallmark message.” This was my unique contribution to our team.

Always remember a little inspiration, encouragement, and genuine gratitude does the spirit good. It is hard work both physically, emotionally, and mentally. Lifting others is an integral part of the day.

One last message as you reflect, review and renew. Are your climate, environment, and team ready to trust, honor and support each other in difficult times or any time?

Thank you for being part of the solution daily! Together with focused solutions, respect, and support, all things are possible.

Leadership videos: Must-see TED Talks & inspirational leadership videos every leader should watch

Start the day with reflecting

Mornings are my favorite! In the spring, you can hear the birds chirping and smell the coffee! Peaceful as I sit on the outside deck, the early risers visit the feeders and the beauty of the new day.

The noise of the world can weigh you down. Everyone has an opinion on everything, but it is the actions and work completed that get things done. Who are those that you look to gain knowledge, encouragement, guidance, and inspiration? I spend my mornings reading my daily devotions and doing a little additional reading from some of my favorite leaders.

As my morning time passes by, I move on to the rest of my scheduled items on my list. I never miss the opportunity to soak up as much as I can of the sunshine in the words I read.

As your weekend comes to an end and you prepare for the week ahead, spread some sunshine! Always take time for a bit of time for yourself. Read, listen to music, read, and enjoy all the things around. Thank you for being part of the solution daily.

Message received

Every day, we receive messages from others in many different ways. We also send messages in various ways as well. Managing all of these communications can be overwhelming, but we can also mishandle messages.

What we say, the body language we use, and the tones used to send messages to others. I know for myself, my facial expressions can tell you precisely what I am thinking. At least, that is what I have been told.

All of us enjoyed the treats brought in for our “Feast Friday” in the staff lounge as we were placing more plates and food out, in walks, Lauren.

“I can’t believe we still have her as our Principal. She is the worse we have ever had. She left a note on my desk saying she had been in to check out lesson plans and could not find mine. I am hoping to stop back later today to see them. Really? Doesn’t she have better things to do?”

“I am with you, Lauren; I got one of those little notes too! I am tired of being checked on.”

“I don’t like it either.” “Anyone else has anything to say?”

I left the staff room without saying a word but felt awful. I loved our Principal, and this little negative group was saying horrible things. They should not be doing this. I hate to see them coming. I was a new person on staff, and I just wanted to fit in, but I was having a hard time. I did not know what to do about the “TNT club” (Teachers in Tenure club).

I found the courage to go to speak with the principal about the situation. I explained how everyone contributed to a negative conversation about her, and I did not say anything. I finally left the room.

“I see, ” she says. “You are telling me you stayed and did not say anything to anyone, then left the room.”

“Yes, I did not say anything and left.”

“Oh, but you did say plenty.”

“What, I did not say anything.”

“By not saying anything, you spoke volumes to them. They believe you agree with them.”

Wow, this is a lesson I shared with others every chance I could. I included it with the students. If someone is making fun of someone and you do not say anything to get it to stop, then you are part of the problem as well. Standing by and allowing “bad” things to happen without saying something is a problem.

There is so much to learn about messages. What messages are we sending to others? A great book to read is Kids Deserve It! by Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome. In their book, they have this question: “What if we looked for solutions instead of complaining about what’s wrong?” It speaks to me, how about you?

Talk to others to understand how they feel about the messages being sent? A friend of our family often says, “I was transmitting when I should have been receiving.” Listen to hear what is needed. Then take action.

Thank you for being part of the solution daily! After all, Kids Deserve It!

Through the window

“The good things in life are better with you in it.” These are the words on the heart sitting on the ledge of the window next to my chair. I love to sit in my chair and watch the clouds, blue skies, birds flying, rain as it waters the grass, or snowflakes as they dance in the wind. No matter the season, the view from the window provides me with the heartfelt warmth I need! I reflect on the things that are important in life as the birds sing. Sometimes I will see deer, rabbits, and other animals, but it is interrupted by the traffic or tractors during farming times!

We planted two trees just outside my window. One I can see now as its branches reach up towards the heavens. It reminds me of the tree we planted for my mom for her birthday before I was married. I can remember looking out of the window at that tree right before I went out to hug everyone goodbye. My new husband Zeke and I would be heading to the state of New York as he reported to the Navy to finish his training. Did I mention I was 19 years old and had never been away from home? It was kind of a big scary moment for everyone, I think! The tree seemed to understand as it stood up tall and did not make a move. Branches are reaching up as a reminder to stand tall, keep your head up and always look to the heaves for your guidance. I have followed those rules for 36 years and counting!

This is the window my grandkids look through at my house. It is a reading space with crates of books, pillows a set of binoculars to watch the birds and a place just for them.

When you look through your window, what do you see? If you do not see things clearly or something to encourage, lift or provide guidance, move; look through a different window. Maybe you need to get in the car and look through those windows. Go to a favorite place and look out of their windows. Find the windows that provide what you need.

Do you ever wonder what kind of windows your staff looks through? It isn’t easy to see all points of view when you have always looked through the same window. What do we see when we look through your classroom windows? Office windows?

When your students walk into your classroom or school, have you ever thought about their windows, and perhaps they do not have any? Can they look through a window? Is the bus window the only one they can look through, or the one in the classroom? What do they get to see?

Curiosity, imagination, hope, dreams, and so much can be lost if we do not take the time to learn to turn off the noise and turn on the mind to learn to see through all of the windows we are provided in life.

We have many opportunities to help those we serve each day to expand their well-being and provide resources to encourage them to always believe in more. A door never closes until we shut it. We can always look through the window to see things differently, and sometimes we may need to open it to new possibilities! Together in working, achieving, and believing, we can do all things.

Front door may close but through the window you can always see opportunities are possibilities when we seek to see! #Bethesolutiondaily

Thank you for being part of the solution daily! Help each other daily. Please do not rush to place judgment; gather all of the facts before you react, and the way I look should never define who I am. Mental health needs are what is needed today. If you know someone is in need please call for help.

What are the fundamental changes happening or being planned for learning?

“It is little short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction have not completely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.”-Albert Einstein

As we make our way into the world, we are full of curiosity, creativity, and ready to explore. The importance of this time has been stressed as vital to the overall development of children. The more exposure children have to books, language, and experiences to enrich their learning provides a strong foundation as they move to formal education.

School begins with the organization of routines and understanding how to follow directions. Every day students go to school following the same practice and an understanding that making the teacher happy provides rewards. The rewards are good grades.

“Teaching is far from perfect. It’s messy, and in that mess is where you’ll craft your teaching and truly enjoy the journey.”-Lisa Dabbs

We have many myths around learning that we need to look at, and they are:

  • It’s important to know your learning style
  • The more times you read it, the better you’ll learn it
  • You should focus on one clump of material at a time
  • Go with your gut
  • The more hours you spend studying, the better

I have included the article 5 popular myths about learning debunked as they explain why.

Learning develops at different rates and is unique to each child. To help children’s readiness for new skills is identifying the mastery of prerequisite skills. How are your plans for learning developing learners? Are you practicing utilizing myths? Do students have opportunities for creativity, inquiry, and discovery? Would you want to come to your class? What about your students, do they want to come?

Ask some questions to discover the answers to learning. Thank you for being the solution daily!

The Way…Teaching, Learning, Leading

Education is always part of the political arena. Every time a presidential election comes around, education is one of the talking pieces. I selected my words wisely by using “talking pieces.” It is used as a piece in their puzzle to shift the pieces around to gather more votes, and once the political parties gain power, the pieces begin to move, and the talking never stops.

Temporary success and long-term problems of schools seem to be the pattern. Schools have taken on the responsibility for decades to be the reflection of the societal shifts and changes. However, I ask to what cost are we going to continue down this path that our children pay not only in our financial blunders but in our decision-making process overall.

I love to read, research, ask questions and ponder from my own experiences. If you have not read the work of Andy Hargreaves and Dennis Shirley, please do. The Fourth Way was introduced to me as a middle school principal. We made significant changes to the school I was serving. Another book, The Fourth Global Way, came out after and was just as impactful. As a leader, you need to keep yourself informed, renewed, reflective and innovative in how you think, speak, and do.

I will state I am not seeing or hearing the moves in education I believe will help all of our children. I see divisions when I hear the talk of equity. We are continuing a negative dialogue. Let’s cultivate actual readiness to thrive in a diverse and changing world. I was a white female principal in a school with 40% black students, 7% Hispanic, 8% multi-racial the rest caucasian. At that time, 85% of our students qualified for free-reduced lunch. I also had seven registered sex offenders in the school as students and one female with an ankle bracelet reporting to a parole officer. We were experiencing some challenges, you can say, like our current one on our border. I knew and know my students and families. I visited their homes, spoke to them often, and joined in community events. We cried together at the loss of a family member; we worked together on issues, and together we did many things. We achieved success.

I have always stood for equity, diversity, the whole child, safety, belonging, responsibility, and continued growth. We need to continue to challenge our children to foster diversity, equity, and belonging. Our schools need to be places where we create conditions that empower learners, support communities, and build-up leadership in all areas.

“Shortly before the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, the chair of the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee proclaimed that the “No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act had “become the most negative brand in America.” Eighty-five percent of surveyed educators agreed the NCLB was not improving schools, ”-The Fourth Way, pg 1.

In the quote, it refers to NCLB as a brand. This is exactly right. Politicians often use branding and catchphrases to spark emotions to get legislation passed that usually has many things tied to it that aren’t very helpful. Who would vote no on “No Child Left Behind” and think voters would reelect them?

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) passed in 2015 to eliminate NCLB but only narrows the standardized testing leaving it to the states to determine standards. We have Common Core and then states creating their standards. Again branding no one would vote against.

“The past shapes our aspirations for and orientations to change in the present and the future. Knowingly or unknowingly, school leaders often take some of what worked for them in one school into the next–even when it doesn’t fit. Their journeys and experiences undoubtedly affect how they approach the Way ahead.”-The Fourth Way, pg.3

We must be clear about where we stand as leaders facing a critical turning point in our history. It is essential to take the most professional approach. Taking the familiar path is easy; it is without bumps and is smooth. It is time to step up and outside of the comfortable space to reach for a higher purpose. Our students and staff need us to climb the mountain with integrity as we reach to get higher achievement levels, success, and overall well-being.

I do not want others to create problems to find solutions to work we are doing. More action, no need to move any pieces around, have talking points for votes, or blow others’ candles out to make yours shine brighter.

Let’s do the work to accomplish what has been started. We have lots of work to do in order to get all of our students to achieve. It can be done with a focused approach.

A link to a short video clip for The Fourth Way.

Working together to achieve more!

Monday Moments of Impression

What does your team think of you? What do you think of your team? How do you know? Do you ask? Do they say? How can you find out?

The best thing I have ever done is created an evaluation for my staff to do on me. Now you have to want to receive feedback, do something with it, and let staff see how to set goals to address the areas they identify as needing improvement. It is a great practice!

When staff sees you are doing something with the feedback, you receive you have just built a strong relationship with your team. I used the same one no matter where I went to measure my growth.

When you leave a place, you always want to leave it better than the way you found it. My goal was never to go somewhere and not have things in order in the place I left. Sometimes you do not want to leave, but it is something you need to do.

My first administrative position was a great place to learn, grow and accomplish so much with a great team. We went from a traditional junior high to a middle school concept. We were not achieving to achieving. A great group to work with each day!

The picture above was given to me by our secretary Kim when I left to take a new position. It is home-crafted (The best kind!) It is such a touching gift! It has always hung in my offices wherever I went as a reminder to work hard with your team; it matters. It is in my home now with the same purpose. Remind others to work hard with their team.

Life moves forward, and people get very busy in life. It is so hard to find a moment to reach out to someone in the present, not even thinking about trying to connect with someone from the past. But when you go through your days, take a moment to ask yourself if what you are doing is leaving the impression you want others to remember.

Thank you for being part of the solution daily! Leave an impression with positive vibes to last a lifetime!

So thankful for secretaries, support staff, true friends and yes, everyone! Okay, I make a lot of mistakes, but people help me! #Bethesolutiondaily