Tuesday Talk: What do you say?


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


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


Always Grow

Have you ever planted something? Maybe you have a house plant you care for daily? Watching what you planted grow gives you a special feeling. Take a few minutes to look around at everything someone has planted and you see growing. It may take some imagination if you have lots of snow!

People have so much power in the process of growth. It is not only the seeds we place in the soil but the words, actions, ideas, and resources we put in the paths of others or provide for ourselves, which develop.

We are always growing because we are always learning. Some of the lessons we receive are tough, but it is through those we can find our true direction.

Children need to learn this process as they grow. I have had this debate for it seems decades. I will continue to plead students who fail an assignment or test should not just move on and a grade is placed in the grade book. In addition, homework not completed should not receive a zero and be forgotten.

Children who live in poverty or difficult situations may not have the ability to complete the homework. This then becomes an assessment of the support system and not the student’s ability. When students are not able to redo work they failed many messages are sent to them maybe without the teachers intent, but it still happens.

There is no growth happening when children are just pushed forward without taking ownership in their learning. Mistakes are the best way to learn!

Please read the attached article from Education Week by Angela Duckworth. It is absolutely an excellent example for all learners as we build self-efficacy as students lead their learning. #Bethesilutiondaily



Engagement is an exciting word! It can be life-changing for couples, an invitation to an event, or being part of an experience of learning. Many experts provide information about the importance of engagement in education and how to continue to strive to increase student engagement. However, Dr. P.J. Caposey brings to light two forms of engagement to understand.

There is student engagement in a student’s educational experience overall and an individual engagement within a classroom. The article link below provides additional information about the two forms.

When the new wave of evaluating teachers came to be, Danielson was the model everyone looked to as a guide to understand how to approach evaluation. Danielson indicated in her framework as engagement being the heart for overall improvement for student learning. The assessment began the discussions, professional development, and in most cases, confusion to-what is student engagement?

I come from the grant world, and compliance tied with improvement is our primary function. Dr. Caposey points out compelling arguments in how to look at engagement. My favorite quote from him is what I will leave you with as I hope you follow this article: “Compliance does not equal engagement.” Thank you, PJ, for your insight! I can still remember you from years ago in IPA; keep leading with a bright light!


Monday Magic Questions

Monday’s always provide a new start to a work week with an extra cup of energy to boost you into gear! As the gears begin to turn on the commute into work it is a great time to pop in Monday Magic Questions!

Questions start the gears moving in the direction of solutions to problems you may not know to exist. Why? You have not asked the magic question!

One of my previous posts was titled. Can you help? What if the question today for everyone was, How can I help? A twist on the question but a completely different impact. If everyone in your work setting asked, how can I help? How do you react?

I have had the nickname Pollyanna and Hallmark. I do like to look at things more positively, but why not? The link I will share below will provide you with information regarding how people feel about the workplace. I have designed several professional developments regarding positive culture and climate. One of my favorites was for a new Superintendent and her team. Part of the development design for her was to create a way for people to know her message and build a strong positive relationship. We did a letter of assurances to staff. I believe, I will, I am, I have and statements to let them know leadership was in their corner.

A warning to all when you make assurances they need to be genuine and followed through on. This will make or break your climate and culture!

More Magic Monday questions will come as you continue to grow, lead and succeed! When people know you care for them, they will care for you! If you model what you want to do, they will do the same for you. Please let me know how I can help you!


Job Satisfaction Statistics (Editor’s Choice):

  • Only 20% of American employees feel enthusiastic about their jobs.
  • Only 55% of Americans are either satisfied or fully satisfied with what they do.
  • 33% of the American workers think that they are at their career’s dead end.
  • 21% of employees are very keen to change their careers.
  • 63% of the employees feel more committed to their organization when their employers treat them with respect.
  • 32% of the employees feel pressured to not take any time off.
  • 70% of the employees say they feel more driven to work hard when they get a vacation for a week or so.
  • 95% of American employers think that their financial wellness packages are effective to reach the company goals.

Who are you?

Walking through the door, all of the eyes looked at me. “Who are you?”

Those three words are powerful! Was I ready to answer this question?

Can you answer that question? You have a name and a title, but what does this tell others? Is there more to define you?

Many books are written regarding leadership. I know many of the authors of these books and so enjoy reading them. It is so critical to know who you are before you stand before a group to lead. There are no right or wrong answers to your style of leadership.

The Ant and the Elephant written by Vince Poscente, is a parable. I love it because of the action plan you can develop to clarify and continue to work on your leadership.

Leadership is more than the title you hold. It is reflected in your words and actions. What are your values, beliefs, and vision? Leaders reflect at the end of the day how their reflection impacted others through it!

My favorite place for inspiration is Simple Truths! Enjoy one of their videos below. I found an additional one as well! Refilling your cup with inspiration is good for your heart and mind!

“Your off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!”~Dr. Suess

No! I can’t! Papers pushed off the table. Feet and chairs are moving. Door slams shut and then the sound of the elevator door opening.

Searching for the keys to the car, I paused. What just happened? I have seen this before, but I was not pushing papers off the desk or yelling; it was one of my students in a classroom.

Frustration points are real to individuals suffering from trauma and injuries. It is beyond the scope of thinking clearly and responding to typical reactions. Understanding the “why” and the “what” behind the behaviors of who you are dealing with help with the solution.

Trauma victims have big mountains to climb, but they can do it. There is no magic timeline of when they will reach it. They need to know when they stumble; you won’t let them fall too far. Safety, security and the ability to make a few mistakes is all they need when they look up and find a strong support system in place. Oh, the places they will go!~Dr. Suess

Trauma-Sensitive Schools information and resources are available on the ASCD website. We have all experienced trauma! If you need help, please ask me, and I will do all I can for you. We are the solution.



Trauma-Informed Design in the Classroom

Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher and Dominique Smith

Color. Carpets. Configurations. The classroom can create a sense of safety, calm, and invitation to learn—if designed correctly.

Helping Kids Facing Trauma Do Better

Brandi Clark

By building relationships and helping students create their own “wellness tools,” teachers can foster skills for managing challenging emotions.

Podcast: Creating Cultures of Safety in Schools

Authors and speakers Pete Hall and Kristin Souers discuss the work involved to create “nests” in schools—cultures of safety that make everyone feel welcome, nurtured, and free to explore and take risks—and how this work can help us all manage emotions and persevere.

What’s Your Label?

I saw her pick up several different boxes and read the labels.  We were in the grocery store.  She finally placed one in her cart.  “Is that a good buy?” I asked the young women.  She responded, “I was checking the label for calorie count.  I don’t know the cost.”  Oh, thanks. The candy aisle was next, but I am guessing she will skip that one.

What is a label?  A label is a small piece of printed paper or material created to provide information.  But a label is much more.  It can also be a designation applied to an individual or group–a phrase to include a classification, category, or sorting.  It makes selection orderly.  The placement of labels on products required through specific agencies is monitored.  Who monitors the other labels in our society?

A near-death accident left me with lifelong injuries.  As an educator, I had spent years sitting at tables talking in groups discussing the children we served.  The professionals, experts, and individuals who had the children’s best interest in place still had to place labels on them to provide orderly services.  Now, I was the target of labeling.  My medical team diagnosed me with TBI (traumatic brain injury).  They told me I was in the group of disabled.  What?  No one was going to place a label on me!

Fast forward to today, the label is on me, but it does not define me. Why? I decided to get a new label writer. I am now a writer helping others feel inspired, encouraged, become better leaders, enjoy what they do, and most importantly, choose their label! Eleanor Roosevelt wrote, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Create your own identity and live it out loud with pride and inspiration.