Category: #Education, #Leadership, #Resurces,

Animals teach us well!

My daughter has always loved animals and rescued so many in need. She has carried this love into her adult life, passing it on to her children and probably to the children she teaches. At her home, you will find a variety of animals and, most importantly, love. One of my author friends highlighted lessons learned from dogs, and I have a few to share about other animals. Learning happens when we open our hearts, minds, and eyes to see through a different lens or way.

You can find the work of Wally Bock at the following links or follow him at @WallyBock on Twitter. He leaves you with five points you can learn from dogs and understand about people. Doggie point 4 is my favorite. “Sometimes the dog barks because another dog barks. People are like that, too. Sometimes they act thoughtfully. Sometimes they just go along with everyone else.”

Animals are all unique in their forms of communication and ways of life. One thing we all have in common is our instinct. Animals use their instincts and senses to be alerted to danger. We do the same thing. Sometimes we make mistakes because we do not follow our instincts.

What if we relied on only our senses to help us determine decisions or understand? One of my favorite books is a pop-up book titled Six Blind Men and the Elephant by Wayne Kalama. The story is a beautiful way to introduce to staff, students, and families the importance of each voice. The six men wanted to learn about the elephant. They used other senses to feel the elephant and contributed their opinion. Every single opinion is correct, but not entirely. Understanding the importance of listening to all, we can “see” the entire picture to know all parts—a great lesson in collaboration.

In our many books, we will find fables, short stories, and many comparisons to help us understand the meaning of points authors, writers, and leaders are trying to make. Lessons are learned in many ways.

We could be like an Ostrich with our heads in the sand or stretch out our necks like the Giraffe to see further. Courage to face issues as leaders are in how we see ourselves.

What are we building?

We know when we open the classroom door or the zoom classroom meeting, we are building…but what are we building? Incorporating civic engagement into classrooms will enhance the academic content we teach and provide students with leadership opportunities. Every lesson and classroom activity has the potential to be leadership lessons. Are we building learners, thinkers, creators, leaders or….?

Education provides opportunities to engage students in lessons with multiple purposes with creativity, focus and expectation. The concept is to introduce issues within the community and neighborhood. How can students apply learning to resolve issues facing them directly? This can seem like at add-on to our curriculum, but it is not. It is just part of what we include it what we do in engaging our students in actively application of what they learn to how they live. We do not teach students what to think, but in how to apply what they learn.

Education is something we do with children not to them. The children we serve every day have the potential to provide the world with more kindness, additional advancements, intriguing inventions and better environments than they found. Without the right skills, resources and encouragement students will lose their passion before reaching their full potential. It is up to educators to create the environments for the creative process students can build their skills in project-based, hands-on active learning.

Building the future

Today we lay the foundational blocks which our children continue to build on as they grow in the skill areas of their focus. It presents them with information about current events, civic engagement, development of responsibility, and leadership. Students need to have educational experiences to enhance their mindsets in continued growth, a solid personal identity to engage in lifelong learning, and civic-mindedness to be involved in making what I believe they can and will do….. Make the world a better place because they can!

How to start-Two Rule Philosophy

I have been selecting My One Word each year for several years. This year I have chosen commitment. I am committed to bringing my Two Rule philosophy in book form to publishers and supporting all who want to begin this practice. Two Rules can be applied to every aspect of life and work. The Two Rules are simple in stating and purposeful in implementing their approach. It begins with mindset.

The goal of every action plan is to Improve areas identified by leadership teams. Before the action plan is developed, a clear Mission needs to be established that all members believe in and support. Building strong Partnerships with all stakeholders will provide valuable input into the improvement action steps required for overall gains. As the plan is developed, it is essential to establish timelines, assign roles, and a measure of Accountability. The collaborative approach in building Capacity in Teaching and learning contributes to a focused mindset on achievement for all. The Two Rule philosophy will IMPACT the overall quality, performance, and achievement.

John Hattie’s research and author of Visible Learning provides us with a wealth of knowledge regarding practices and strategies to support learning. Hattie tells us everything we do in education works, but it is the level of impact it has on learning. Looking at the research he provides, comparing your data and practices can provide a foundation to start as you develop a plan to improve achievement. Before teaching and learning can begin, establishing a culture with the Two Rule philosophy can provide the environment you need.

Let’s begin

When introducing any new concept to staff, students, families, or the community, providing a clear understanding is where you begin. The Two Rule concept starts with providing a baseline understanding of our mindset. To help others grow, we need to have a willingness to grow as well. The growth mindset is best known from the work of Carol Dweck.

Our mindset is instrumental in our approach to coping with life challenges. Dweck has identified we have a “fixed” of “growth” mindset regarding learning. A “fixed” mindset reflects thinking you are born with a certain amount of intelligence. A “growth” mindset believes you can learn new things and improve your intelligence.

Introducing the Two Rules concept supports the “growth” mindset in understanding we look at the actions we take, the words we speak, and the choices we make impact how we feel emotionally and physically. Two Rules will guide individuals in their “growth” as this concept is applied to daily life.

Two Rules

  • Everyone will feel good.
  • Everyone will feel safe.

There will only be two rules to guide all of us here. Everyone who walks through our doors will feel good about being here and feel safe. Before we take action, speak, or choose, we will think of these two rules. It is always our choice to be part of the problem or the solution. The Two Rules concept will provide the guidance, problem-solving, and solutions to discover the positive growth needed.

22 Reasons to join in 2022

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Reasons to join

  1. Finding solutions for issues we face
  2. Connecting with others as we pose questions
  3. Gaining ideas for ways to engage others
  4. Discovering inspiration
  5. Motivation ideas
  6. Plans for implementation for improvements
  7. Techniques to use in problem-solving sessions
  8. Strategies to utilize to form a positive culture
  9. Communication skills, templates to use, and other tools
  10. Organizing to focus structured time
  11. Leadership concepts
  12. Qualities of leaders
  13. Questioning strategy and tips
  14. Social-Emotional learning information, skills, and activities
  15. Understanding issues facing education, how to find solutions
  16. Building relationships with families, students, and community
  17. Establishing professional learning and resources
  18. Resources, information to help with Poverty
  19. Providing guides, resources, research, and knowledge on issues facing education and society like Equity, social awareness, bullying, violence, emotions, and more
  20. What is our Why? How do we self-care? Do we reflect, renew and recharge?
  21. How to have Acceptance, forgiveness, and transformation?
  22. This cannot be the last reason because there are so many more opportunities to be part of the solution daily. So with this reason 22, join because “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”

Acceptance in life and the workplace

When you talk about acceptance, what part of the definition do you think of first? Merriam-Webster defines acceptance in several ways. It can be understood as consenting to receive or undertake something offered. It can also be the action or process of being accepted as adequate or suitable, typically admitted into a group. Acceptance can be a tolerance of a difficult or unpleasant situation. You can accept an agreement with a belief in an idea, opinion, or explanation.

When you are a teen, you want to be accepted into social groups! Heck, according to the number of people on social media platforms, acceptance into social groups is essential. Thanks for letting me in!

If you are in a workplace, most likely, you have accepted the ideas and beliefs in what you do. There is a vision and mission to support the efforts of the organization.

Acceptance is described in part as tolerance of a difficult or unpleasant situation. I believe we have all experienced a difficult time or an unpleasant one. The one lesson I learned about tolerance and acceptance came from Holocaust survivor Eva Kor. I was a 5th-grade teacher when I met her with my class at the CANDLES Museum in Terre Haute, Indiana. She told me: “You tolerate a mosquito buzzing in your ear, but respect human beings.” Our friendship lasted for several years as students continued to learn from her. Many lessons we all received.

Acceptance is a word with more depth in its meaning and width in its reach. As an individual and a leader, we have to provide support, guidance, understanding, and accountability in acceptance. We accept others, opinions, ideas, changes, and situations we face. Stop! Hold on! It is not that easy and not exactly what is accepted.

Acceptance comes when we can recognize differences others have and understand it makes our world what it is. We have some extreme groups focused only on the negative impact of eliminating others because they do not believe the way they do; this is unacceptable. Others do not like the way people look by the color of their skin, the way they speak, gender, or other characteristics. We do not teach others to accept others based on how they look, but on the actions and words in harming others. My standard phrase and two rules are applied here. Everyone will feel good and safe. We can choose to be part of the problem or the solution.


A condition we all must work on essential to our mental and social-emotional health is self-acceptance. As leaders, we face daily conflicts we need to balance to help serve others. Our staff combats the same issues. We are all balancing, adjusting, and dealing with information that prohibits us from seeing clearly. Many times the source of the negativity comes from within ourselves.

In our world of wanting to be accepted, we set high expectations and often unreasonable assumptions about the work we do. As leaders, we must recognize this in ourselves, in others and help guide everyone through the steps of acceptance of self. Here are a few steps to take:

  • Identify your strengths
  • What makes you unique
  • What are you know for
  • Set goals
  • Let go of things you cannot control
  • Positive self talk-replaces negative talk
  • Celebrate big and small accomplishments
  • Start a journal
  • Create a positive praise group
  • Practice positive talk and kindness (especially to self)

We do not have to accept

Do not think you have to accept everything. We have debates to talk about important issues. We have our core beliefs, values, and religion. Acceptance is in all areas of your life. Accepting does not mean you are endorsing, giving up, or not trying to work on changes. However, there are things we cannot change.

To survive the Holocaust, Eva had to accept situations. Knowing they were not right, she had to calm herself to fight to survive. When you have a diagnosis like cancer, you have to accept to keep your mindset focused on surviving. Looking at our past, we have to admit the wrongdoing and move forward with positive change. We cannot change the past but shape the future. Looking back through a rearview mirror provides a narrow view, but looking ahead, the windshield provides a broader range to help us spread the acceptance of positive changes.

Make today day one of your acceptance days in your journey. Accept the things you cannot control, identify the areas in yourself you can celebrate, provide guidance for others on acceptance and begin to build a solid foundation to stand on as we continue to face more issues daily.

Choosing to be the solution daily is the acceptance in the responsibility to serve self and others with positive outcomes. In order to serve others to the best of your abilities, you have to self-care. It is not easy and I have not always practiced it, but life is a marathon not a sprint, pace yourself!

Countdown to Christmas-Song 5

This clue may have been a little harder! The silent stars go by, yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light. The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

As you get older, “stars,” you grew up knowing from music, television, and movies, begin to fade away. However, their memories shine bright for all of us. My sister is 17 years older than I am. She loved Elvis Presley, so I did too! She took me to concerts as a young child and yes Elvis was one we went too! Women went crazy to try to get a scarf from him.

O’Little Town of Bethlehem reminds us of the comfort we can find in places we think we can not. Our influences guide us, but when we find comfort and peace, all is well.

Empowerment instead of disengagement

We have to determine the barriers students may be facing and why they disengage. What can we do to support and remove barriers? Not only identify barriers for students but staff as well.

  • Lack of purpose
  • Mindset
  • Past experience
  • Fear of failure
  • Peer pressure
  • Motivation

Is the list above for students or staff?

Can it fit both staff and students? I think so! Barriers like those listed can exist at any age. Lack of purpose can be found when we are uncertain of the direction we need to take our lessons if we do not have the background knowledge to comprehend the lesson’s purpose. How can we help when we identify this as a barrier? Reminding them of “why.” Why did you become a teacher? Why do you want to be a _____?

Mindsets are essential in how we approach all aspects of our lives. We have been made more aware of this through others like Carol Dweck. When we are promoting a growth mindset, it benefits all.

Past experiences and failures play into our hesitations into taking risks, chances, or trying something new. As we provide safe working and learning environments, barriers are removed, and opportunities are available to stretch into new areas.

Peer pressure can be positive or negative. Drive peer pressure to become positive by promoting leadership. Turn leadership in your settings into a way to work to be inclusive, collaborative, and engaging. Student leadership is a way to build skills needed to grow and enhance learning. Teacher leadership builds capacity and expands knowledge, focusing on improving everyone.

Motivation drives teaching and learning. As the world fights the fears and realities of the pandemic, education has been hit hard. Humans want to feel validated, appreciated, safe and secure. It is hard to find motivation with so many negatives daily. Thank you to all who are showing up each day! We will do all we can to help provide the best conditions, support, and resources to promote motivation! Positive messages, fewer extras, more acknowledgments, and gratitude!

Every chance you have, empower others to work hard to achieve dreams. Today is a present; tomorrow will be a gift, and there are no exchanges, so make them incredible!

Rediscovering Learning-Building Connections

The delivery of instruction changed and left educators rediscovering the learning inequities as the environments flipped from virtual, hybrid, and in person. We can look at how these changes have caused us to pause and rethink homework, relationships, and assignments.

In addition, recognizing building relationships is essential and prioritizing working intentionally together. Being connected is not about technology but individual human relationships. We can look at learning and relationship building during the shifts we continue to experience.

Changing venues from virtual, hybrid, and in-person provided teachers with opportunities to learn along with their students on how these changes impact the learning environment. No longer would homework be looked at in the same way. Building classroom community took a mind shift as the virtual world flipped to the students to help take a more significant lead for sharing the responsibility of defining a safe and supportive learning community. They were helping to hold each other accountable.

Teaching Approach-Student Leadership

We can either use our strengths or abuse our powers as leaders; the choice is ours to make. It is always a choice to be part of the problem or the solution. Our future leaders sit in the seats in front of you today.

  • Explain the value of the learning and the connections to real life.
  • Increase ownership in education by providing students with choices.
  • Teach students goal setting.
  • Create opportunities to learn how to reflect on the work completed, the planning process, the steps in monitoring, and make adjustments based on assessments.
  • Model effective strategies for assigned tasks, projects, or assignments.
  • Provide direct and specific feedback.
  • Teach study and organizational skills.
  • Build vocabulary and background knowledge daily for students.
  • Establish an environment where it is safe to make mistakes and encourage students to justify responses.
  • Understand there is always a solution to every identified problem.

Homework was used to practice skills taught at school, but now we look at homework to complete the work not achieved in the workday. It is also used as an extension to enrich and apply critical thinking. We do not want to add stress to homes during times like these, but continued learning growth is essential for our students.

Learning journeys are individually driven. Each individual has a different skill set, interests, strengths, and weaknesses. We have common goals we want to achieve, and some will get there faster than others. We must provide what they need along their journey and feed their intellectual, emotional, and physical well-being.

Leading underachieving

Are students not motivated in learning? What if they are not at the level of learning to communicate motivation? How do we support a learning environment to promote motivation?

Students who aren’t “motivated” according to their academic achievement levels are motivated, just not motivated to do what we want them to do. Recently, I walked the halls of a school and peered into classrooms to see a variety of levels of engagement and motivation.

The leader’s issues multiply by lack of consistency in teaching staff with several substitute teachers in place, International teachers in the area to relieve the teacher shortage, students at different learning levels, and finding staffing to support them.

Students are motivated to meet their needs. We can engage them in the classroom, but probably not the same way we can the students we find the easiest to teach. As the old saying goes, we all learn to beat at our drumbeat! Don’t give up try these first!

  • Talk with students and not at or down to them. Great relationships are built on trust, honesty, and acceptance. If you try to patronize them, they will see right through it! Let them tell you what their issues are and how those can be solved. Could you provide them with support in making realistic goals?
  • Begin where they are and what they already know. Facilitate helping to guide students through the subject area they find exciting and vital. It is essential to build on strengths as you form relationships and enhance the learning environment.
  • Working with individual students, you will discover the best approach for instruction. Some students are auditory, others visual or kinesthetic. I have found many students who need all of these instructional styles to capture appropriate learning.
  • Providing direct, consistent, and timely feedback gives learners exactly what they need. They do not want to wait, guess or question how they are doing. They need to know quickly.
  • Discover what they want to do in life. What do they expect? It may change, but they need to see targets and results. Their efforts need to be paying off for them in some way.
  • One of the items I noticed when focusing on closing the gaps, the students who are performing well begin to stretch themselves to the next level. When everyone is working to achieve, everyone gets better.

Leaders can advocate for good instructional practices, positive learning environments, policies to support them and focus on learners first. It is time to move past the ‘what if,’ ‘yeah but’ and ‘who else is doing it?’ Take charge of leading your school with the knowledge you have to recover, motivate and continue to grow.