Category: Communication

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. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.4346

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!

https://instructionalcoaching.com/judgment/

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

March into Monday with purpose!

March right into a month of opportunities as we kick off the first week in March with Read Across America! Tomorrow we will celebrate the birthday of Dr. Suess! To find out more ways to support reading in your schools, communities and homes go to https://www.nea.org/professional-excellence/student-engagement/read-across-america

Unlock the door to reading, the key to everywhere!

I love reading! My grandchildren will tell you it is my favorite thing to do and I enjoy reading with them. We have a space created in our home for play, but most importantly plenty of spots filled with books. They have a special carpeted spot on our landing with pillows, crates of books and a big window to look out to enjoy birds, rabbits, deer and any other wildlife that choose to visit.

I have my favorite books to share with them, and they enjoy my stories to go along with why they are special to me. One is The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson. I share my friendship with my friend Tammy growing up and how she took such great care of me. It is my opportunity to talk to them about friendship, relationships and how to care for everyone.

As you look at each day, know they mean something in history, culture and to individuals. Maybe it is a celebration of a birth, wedding, graduation or accomplishment. However, it can also be an anniversary of a loss, a rejection, a reminder of something traumatic and sadness. It is up to each of us to learn about those untold stories as a way to support not by asking, reminding, but by showing up and listening.

Social-Emotional Learning, Mental Health, Self-Care are essential to all. Learn how to support, teach, practice and communicate ways to share helpful information to others.

Thank you for #Bethesolutiondaily

March 26th is Social-Emotional Learning Day; find out more information at https://selday.org

Please Love’em ❤️

Friday’s always remind me of family and friends. As an administrator, I took this night to have as our night together. We had pizza or went out to dinner, and when my daughter was cheering, we took in whatever game she was at to enjoy.

I just finished reading the book Love’em or Lose’em Getting Good People to Stay by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. I highly recommend this book to everyone working with individuals!

As I was reading, I did a great deal of reflecting as an employee at different stages in my career and as a leader. I never really liked to refer to myself as the “boss” because I felt like we all worked as a team, but if there was a mistake, I wanted to be the one to take responsibility.

In the book, you will find 26 chapters which matches the 26 engagement strategies for busy managers. I love how the book is set up in the contents. It allows you to have a quick reference of the topic of the chapter, meaning and reflective questioning. Perfect for the readers to prepare for reading for more than content, but with a more in-depth look into beliefs, practices and actions. The best part is you can start at the beginning, in the middle or at the end. To help guide you even further, they have included at the beginning a Retention/Engagement Index to do a self-assessment to help direct you to chapters you may want to read first based on your score. This book meets you where you are! Look at the content list of chapters, complete the REI and see where you want to start. Perfect for everyone!

One of the chapters in the book is Dignity. Ponder and reflect on this word. If you are a leader how do people describe you? What if you are a co-worker? As we work in an environment, it is essential to get to know each other, understand cultures, learn about differences and build trust.

“Honoring others and treating them with dignity and respect may mean managing your moods?” We may have times when we need to apologize to others if we cannot control our moods. An example could be: an open meeting we disrespect another employee by yelling at them or making comments to belittle them. Recognizing this is not the best way to approach any situation. Providing an apology is a sign of respect and is appreciated.

Notice your staff, smile, greet them, introduce them to others, and help to make them feel visible. When people leave a job they often report they felt invisible. Your staff and co-workers want to be noticed and included.

In my blog post Wednesday Window Pain, I mentioned a story of my boss not being in her office after asking me to come over. Bosses who are busy, may seem to be unreachable. In my situation, it was true. I never had a time I could speak to her.

Employees feel unimportant and disrespected when they have to ask repeatedly to meet with the boss. Then when they do not hear back from the boss, you begin to lose them.

“Treating an employee with dignity means acknowledging how difficult and unique this life situation is.” Listen to employees’ needs and wants. Respond to them quickly and follow up if needed. Be helpful to them in their time of need. My boss always told us a story about a person dying because they worked so much. Remember, she said, we will continue to work when you are gone. You will be replaced and we will move on. I think she was trying to motivate us to spend more time with family, but the message was not clear to all.

Treat those you work with and for with respect, dignity, and love. You spend a great deal of time with those who choose a job you each wake up every morning to do! Isn’t it the best job and one you love! Don’t lose people who love what you all do!

Order your copy of Love’em or Lose’em on Amazon!

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.

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.