Category: Coaching

Let’s Debate

Do we see debates over issues? A debate is a discussion of opposing sides of a specific topic, subject, or issue. An example would be a discussion of the pros and cons of reopening schools after Covid-19. I think I have seen some…. At least they resemble debates.

We most likely would see debates in our legislative branches of government. Have you witnessed debates? I have listened carefully since engaging in researching this topic. We are looking for specific elements in each person pleading their reasoning for their point.

I believe one of the critical skills and elements needed to help children succeed in the future is being able to have essential conversations to debate their points successfully.

The emphasis on teaching children how to protest is misdirected, in my opinion. A focus on how to convince others of the position they have by making points grounded in evidence of value is where the teaching should be focused. Critical thinking skills, knowledge, and strong communication skills will serve all of us in the future with positive outcomes.

Hugo Mercier, in the following TED-Ed clip, explains how an argument can be more convincing when it contains these elements:

  • A good knowledge of your audience you are speaking to.
  • What are the beliefs of the audience?
  • Who and what the audience trusts?
  • What are the values of the audience?

These elements seem like a simple recipe for success. Understanding the audience’s beliefs, trusted sources, and values of others are not always easy for us. As we face an issue, problem or challenge, we do not go first to what we have learned about our audience; instead, we go to our own.

A recipe for success in facing a problem in need of solutions is always to listen first. We hear with more than our ears. To meet issues with debate, reasoning, and convincing rebuttals, we need to embrace all views. Our minds must be open to debate to appreciate and comprehend points different than our set of facts. We have to accept others’ points made convincingly as right and concede when our points are proven wrong.

Every voice has the right to be heard. Actions speak louder than words is often a statement made in high-tempered issues. These actions in no way have ever meant to cause suffering on others, violence, or prevent others from the freedoms granted in this country. Actions moved by the words of others should be in having positive outcomes in the efforts of change. An example would be:

“Today, the sun begins to rise for a new day. It is a chance for each of us to show a new way. To bring to the surface more issues to praise. The life we live changes with every season. Unexpected issues, diseases, challenges, and problems come with no reason. It is our actions, words, and true messages we send out that conveys-The point we try to make.”~Brenda Yoho

Please watch the TED link shared. It is an excellent segment to view. You can find more features to consider as you lead changes and growth in your field. Today is a great day to learn, reflect and lead. Thank you for being part of the solution daily!

Launch into Leadership in all directions!

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” -John C. Maxwell

My friend Jon Lokhorst has written an excellent book titled Mission-Critical Leadership, How smart managers lead well in all directions. It is an opportunity to look at your leadership and how every level of your organization can grow. “Using influence to build relationships and deliver results in all directions within an organization, accelerating it faster and further toward its mission.”-Jon Lokhorst

Jon utilizes his storytelling to connect significant points with real-life events to engage readers. These help to provide a visual and connection. I hope you pick up this book to add to your leadership reading library.

Mission-Critical Leadership focuses on leading in all directions, not in the typical one lane where we are considered the boss. This framework looks at how we lead upward, across, and those below on the organizational chart, but first understanding ourselves as leaders.

Self-leadership is critical in this journey as it is your foundation. It isn’t easy to lead others when you are not confident. What impact do you want to have as a leader? How are you described as a leader? Do you engage in professional learning to grow as a leader?

I have tagged, highlighted, written in, and read this book twice. This is a great way to lead. In my career, I have practiced parts of this concept. I genuinely believe Jon has the right idea!

Reach out to Jon:

Thank you for being part of the solution daily! Lift someone up today!

Lifting up leaders!

Monday Matters! Make it Count!

It is MONDAY! Time to check the calendar for the workweek. What do you have to look forward to this week? Now let’s focus on today! What is on the to-do list?

As Brian Tracy, author of Eat That Frog, told us: “Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long. Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.”

Brian Tracy and Anna Leinberger have written Eat That Frog for students. It is an excellent book for students as they gain the skills they need to form life-long habits for time management with the tips and tools revealed.

Students at all levels struggle with getting tasks completed, but when they reach secondary levels, the realization of time management sinks in. Students find themselves trying to balance school, extra-curricular, part-time jobs, friends, and family. The authors offer readers tips, tools, and techniques for structuring time, setting goals, staying on task (even when you’re not interested), dealing with stress, and developing the skills to achieve. A welcomed book for parents and teachers!

Please join my friend Becky Robinson from Weaving Influence as she interviews the authors. I had the privilege of being present and was so excited to see this as a great resource. 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

Timing Tuesday- When do you communicate negative news?

When do you call home, send a note home to report negative concerns? When do you send report cards home? How do you communicate negative concerns? What do people say about your communications?

Communication is essential. It must be timely and accurate. Keeping others informed is critical in maintaining a focus on improvement. Feedback ensures everyone is aware of where we are in our progression as we continue efforts to prioritize mastery of standards and success for all.

Schools are reporting out failing grades, students falling behind, and learning loss due to the disruption in education caused by the global pandemic. As an educator for decades, we have reported failing grades before the pandemic and learning loss. It may not be at the magnitude of the reported levels, but we had negative reports.

A recently published research study in JAMA, the Journal American Medical Association, stated a concerning connection between negative news and child abuse increases. “The study compared reported incidents of child abuse to state child welfare agencies to the days of the week when report cards are sent home. Examination of almost 2,000 cases indicated that on Saturdays following Friday distribution of report cards, reports of child abuse jumped fourfold compared to reported incidents following the release of report cards on other days of the week.”

The study was conducted before the pandemic. Individuals are dealing with more stress now than prior to the pandemic. We can understand, children have experienced traumatic events, and this pandemic has created more. Therefore, we must look at our communications.

We want to communicate, but negative communication can have negative impacts. The answer is in our timing, the approach, and our action steps. We may not avoid all of the adverse reports in our communication, but we can utilize the distribution timing data. We can provide positive action steps, supports, and alternative solutions to prevent possible abuse. One of our responsibilities is to watch for signs of abuse and report. It is also part of being the solution to maintain open communication with families and students. Build relationships to prevent possible abuse, identify warning signs and provide support to those we serve.

Communicate often! Frame your communications to provide the whole picture and seek out the support of families. Aren’t we all trying to do what is best for the children? I learned an important lesson from one of my parents I worked with early in my career. She told me, “We think you all think you are better than us and know-how to be better parents than us. I know we ain’t got much, but we love our kids, and we want what is best and don’t want anyone messing with them. So don’t tell us how to be a parent.” I took that conversation and remembered it! As I lead several different groups, my statements always included, we do not need to tell people how to be parents, extend our hands to support, ears to listen, and our voice to provide possible solutions and resources. Tell parents how much we love their children! Thank them for sharing them with us.

One of the ideas I love to share with others is my philosophy of the whole child in students leading their learning. I was Assistant Principal, and my team created a Home, School, Student contract. We would set goals, monitor progress, and report back according to the plan. We would take a picture of the student working in the classroom and send a good message to the family. Thank you for sharing the Name of the Child with us! Our partnership is paying off! He/She is working hard in the name of the class. Mail it home or email.

Thank you for being the solution daily! Remember, I am not selling anything, so do not be afraid to ask, share or request. I am here to help you as you work with our most excellent resource, children

Reference for this post come from: Bright, M. A., Lynne, S. D., Masyn, K. E., Waldman, M. R., Graber, J., & Alexander, R. (2018). Association of Friday school report card release with Saturday incidence rates of agency-verified physical child abuse. JAMA Pediatrics, 173(2), pp. 176-182.

Compliance Mode, On or off?

If you are a Superintendent, Business Director, Human Resource Director, work in grants, or any area using data, complying is a crucial issue when officials come to check on your records. Is it enough to be compliant to have materials in order, student records in order, lesson plans ready, when is being compliant just not enough?

One of the Superintendents I worked for looked forward to our yearly opening meeting when the Regional Superintendent could proudly announce our district was compliant in all areas. He never wanted to have anything out of place; he had high standards for us to live up to each day. We would not be on a list showing we did not complete something.

In a previous blog, I mentioned a poem called “Pretty Good,” which reminds us that it is not always good to be okay. “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is a recipe for failure. Your school will get results only when you and your staff shift your collective mindset from “those poor kids” to “our gifted kids.” Stop thinking remediation and start thinking enrichment.”-Eric Jensen, Teaching with Poverty in Mind p.g. 94.

We think about what our staff, families, and students have all went through during this global pandemic with variations in instruction delivery to students. These times have created what many are reporting as large gaps in learning and development for students. Many are worried about how to approach learning loss.

The approach always in education should be when our students have less, we provide more in whatever we do. In these terms, we look at all areas, including food, curriculum, activities, and all areas of need. When we keep our vision and mission statements at the center of our focus, we work to accomplish them.

Time is an element we can not get back or waste. Our students cannot afford to take a remediation approach. I understand there are foundational skills needed to master areas. It is essential to meet children where they are but let’s not start them where they are not. Enhancing the environment for all establishes high standards but not unattainable.

I want to ask you not to measure only the test scores you get as a success. Please include other areas to celebrate that will help impact each other. Examples are Attendance, Discipline, Teacher-Student interactions, Peer-Peer interactions, Volunteer projects, and others.

As we finish our SHARE school approach for Teaching with Poverty in Mind, we end with Enrichment Mindset. Establishing this for staff and students is the best approach to take. Various ways help support this mindset. Let me provide a few examples of a few things my team did to support enrichment.

Held an all-school reading day. Each student received a copy of the book that they could take home to add to their home library.

We completed 12 days of giving as a countdown to Christmas. Students met acts of kindness each day as we worked together. (Cards for Veterans, Kindness tags for grocery bags, Positive Placemats for Nursing homes, Bookmarks with compassion for libraries, and so much more)

College and Career days when staff shared their college information, relatives came in to talk about their careers (plumbers, construction, nursing, hairdresser, landscaping, many others)

They were encouraging staff to think outside the box to try different approaches like Flipped classrooms, changing grade levels, making classrooms operating rooms to teach “Order of Operations” as students dressed in scrubs, Having students create their classroom as a giant cell to give tours, Engaging students in hands-on projects and designs and much more.

After school programs, chess, music, drama, and many other activities. The staff and community help to keep enrichment alive in our school. We outperformed the other middle school with the drive we had to maintain this mindset. School Enrichment Mindset (SEM) sets the expectations, climate, and culture for success. Children need all of us to be at the top of our performance to help them reach theirs,


Begin to look at how your school will approach learning.

What programs do you have or can add to support enrichment? Do not lower expectations in programs or remove them. Change practices, instruction, and curriculum to meet the needs of all.

Review SHARE and begin your plan.

Thank you for being part of the solution daily!


It’s not easy being green, or leading!

Before you leap into anything, take a breath and understand a few things! There is a difference between a leader and a manager. Are you a reader and learner? Do you know the why, how and what about you are doing? Let’s discuss!

The chart provides a quick glance at the difference between leadership and management. Leadership is an individuals ability to influence, inspire, motivate, and enable others to believe in the vision. Leaders can energize the group to work together without power or control to accomplish the goal. Management is tasked-oriented with the day-to-day operations. They make sure everything is assigned, taken care of and completed to accomplish the goals.

I had the honor of working with the Wallace Foundation through the SAM’s Project (School Administrator Managers). As principal of a large middle school, we were able to hire a SAM to take care of the management responsibilities of my position in order for me to focus more time on instructional needs. I found it to be beneficial when the SAM was experienced. To find out more visit the Wallace Foundation website

Dr. Bill Sommers is an author, consultant, teacher, principal, leadership coach, learner and one of the individuals who has read more books than anyone! When my husband complains about all of the books I have, I am going to reference a few people like Dr. Sommers. The best advice I have heard him provide is read! If you think things are the same as they were ten years ago, they are not. Who knew we would have Covid-19 and life would be turned upside down.

His wisdom is priceless! I know our biggest excuse is we do not have time to read all of these books, check all of these emails, blog posts, or attend webinars. However, if we are not modeling growth in learning for staff and students, how do we expect them to achieve it? Block out just 15 minutes a day to professionally read. Do you have a commute? Listen to a podcast, webinar or audiobook on your drive. Then share one thought you gained with others!

Learn more about Dr. Summers at his website and also as he talks to Jim Knight. A great place to start your learning!

I have often spoken about understanding why. Why is your purpose in life? Sometimes the why can be left in a fog when we let other things interfere. Each year I select one word to help drive my why. It helps me keep my focus. Simon Sinek is the author of Start with the Why and also Find Your Why. I have included his Tedtalk, which is relevant to everyone working in a public setting. I want to share just a few words from his book:

“I imagine a world in which the ability to inspire is practiced not just by a chosen few, but by the majority. Studies show that over 80 percent of Americans do not have their dream job.” “I hope to inspire others to do the things that inspire them so that together we may build the companies, the economy and a world in which trust and loyalty are the norm and not the exception.” Take action today!

Each day my goal is to help someone. I have told leaders and teachers I have coached/mentored you may never know the impact you have on others. Days can be difficult when you face many challenges, but you are doing all you can! Always know when you least expect it a little reminder of why you do comes to you!

Leadership comes at different stages and places in life. People can help inspire others without realizing they are impacting others. One word of encouragement placed at the right time authentically makes a big difference.

My daughter is a special education teacher with three children of her own. She also has a little mini farm of ducks, chickens, rescue dogs, a cat, and mice she rescued. She has a big heart! Days can be full for her and exhausting, and she had a hard day a few days ago. Then that evening, a parent sent her a message to thank her for doing the extra stuff she is doing with music in the classroom because her child is responding. He had a challenging year last year, but you are making a difference. Way to go, mom for helping to lift up a teacher!

My husband made a phone call to schedule an appointment for a visit to the doctor. The receptionist asked if he knew Brenda. “Yes, that is my wife.” “She had my boys in school and was a blessing.” More was discussed, but it was so many years ago that I had her children it touched our hearts.

Then as I turn on my computer, I see a picture of a former student taking on a new leadership position as he continues to grow. He set out to Washington, D.C. and has done a great job in accomplishing goals. I am very proud of Diante!

We are reminded of our why, and it reinforces our call to action. Please continue to do so; others will find what and how! It’s not easy being green, but let’s discover why!

Thank you for being the solution daily!

Go Ahead, Judge Me! I know you are!

“What are you looking at?” “Look at what she is wearing.” “Can these kids do anything right?” “I can’t, the kids will make fun of me.”

Phrases I have heard, I am sure you have too from kids and adults! Maybe you have even said them. I can remember walking through the halls of middle school as a student and as a principal. I am pretty old, but it seems the same feelings were still there, judgment.

Everyone is looking, pointing a finger, whispering, and we are all thinking… “What are they saying about me?” It is human nature to feel that way and sometimes it is true, people are judging us.

My granddaughter is a middle school student, and we just had a conversation about people looking at you. I gave her my thoughts on the issue, but you know she is a teenager. I explained as a teenager, I thought, why do people look at me? I was timid and never understood, so I made negative thoughts up in my head. I continued that practice even as an adult. I told her, you always wonder if you have something wrong with yourself. We laughed at a couple of stories when some people approached me when we were together to comment on my appearance. It was positive interactions, but just strange in how they happened.

She understood people might have positive things they are thinking, but why are we letting them be the judge? The control is with us in the judgment of how we look, speak, behave and live. After all who spends the most time with you? You!

In our society right now, we seem to have a great deal of judgment going on. “It’s not the differences that divide us. It’s our judgments about each other that do.”-Margaret Wheatley, Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future (2002) How can we unite this divide without utilizing all of the judgment?

As an individual and professional, I have taken responsibility for growing. My life has been full of reading, education, life experiences, and opportunities to get to know many different individuals. Now as you read those last two sentences, did you make a judgment call about me and my background? Be honest with yourself. I have heard in the news the phrase “white privilege.” Did you just think that about me?

Now let me approach it differently. As a young girl, I had many opportunities to learn the importance of education, reading and meeting many different people. My parents came from poor farming families in the south and we’re uneducated. They did not know how to read, so I learned to read and read to them. We never met strangers as we grew a big garden and gave food to others. Now what is the thoughts?

I think as I listen, read and research, the missing links to our rush to judgments are conversations with real listening. Marshall Rosenberg-Nonviolent Communication A Language of Life (2003) “Moralistic judgments imply wrongness or badness on the part of people who don’t act in harmony with our values.” These types of judgments are often wrong. They do not account for the complexity of the situation. Know the story entirely through all lenses. I am proud of my background, struggles, opportunities, challenges and continued learning. My family is a mixture of color, backgrounds and stories. I love all of them.

I learned in my life to never judge a book by its cover. It may look different on the inside. You will never know if you only look at the surface and not the pages that reveal the secrets it will tell you. Sometimes those fancy covers are all it has.

Please read, research, explore, share and understand! Jim Knight is one of many I read! I hope you are working with your staff in a coaching model, if not please check with Jim Knight. It is the best practice to be the best! My favorite books of his are The Impact Cycle and Better Conversations. Please click on the links I have shared to learn more about Judgment and how it can hurt the teaching/learning process.

“There are many ways to roll your eyes that don’t involve our eyes.”-Michael Fullan. My biggest trigger is people rolling their eyes, so I saw you! Now that may have been a judgment or a good guess. Just click on the links, learn and stop judging!

Take the Judgment Challenge: Why Moralistic Judgment Is Wrong, Why It Feels So Good, and How to Stop It