Category: Learning

Students “Don’t Care,” Do they?

Have you heard this, thought this, or said this? As you glance in a classroom, talk to students or staff, you get an idea of this statement.

Sometimes we are quick to place a label on something without further examining the roots to discover a solution. Engagement is our go-to word. Students are not engaged in learning, so they do not care. Whoa, stop! This is a snap judgment call without really diving in to look at solutions.

I have included a link below to a great article from EL Magazine. It is a quick read packed with great insight on how to look at barriers students may have as they face learning.

Standing in front of the class and giving information in hopes students will receive it with learning, as a result, is not a reasonable expectation. Then to think they can take this information and apply it. Well…

Students are not always interested in what we want them to do in the classroom or to learn. This does not mean they do not care. We have not uncovered how to motivate them with their interests, ways of learning, removed barriers or found the right strategies.

Students need clear feedback, a success that is important to them and to know peers are not judging them. Helping students reach their full potential can be accomplished.

http://bit.ly/2WbJ2pK

Lifelong Learning

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”~William Buttle Yeats

The moment you take your first breath until you take your last, I believe we are learning. The level of our learning depends on what we desire to do. The limitations to learning are the ones we place on ourselves. Others may place barriers in our way; there may be challenges we encounter and obstacles to overcome, but our desire to learn moves us forward.

Lifelong learning is more than building skills for career development; it can be for self-improvement, self-fulfillment, maintaining a healthy brain lifestyle, expanding experiences by learning new things, languages or connecting more with others in groups.

Helping to keep lifelong learning as an essential part of our lives is to be the catalyst to keep it going. As a parent, you are the center of your child’s beginning of life. You supply the ingredients needed to spark the desire to learn, try new things, and explore. This continues as children grow, but more layers of support are added to provide additional sparks to ignite interests of other critical and creative ideas. Teachers are the core to the continued growth for learning and development.

As children and teachers head back to the classrooms, we must keep in mind the importance of establishing the desire to learn daily. Not to settle for just getting by, not doing just what you need to do, but to ask questions and more questions. Critical thinking, creative thoughts, innovation, curiosity, and imagination bring many ideas to learning.

How are you stretching your mind each day? Do you have suggestions on how to engage others in learning? What will you learn today?

Acceptance

“Life is not always what one wants it to be. A turn right instead of the left can make a difference on the path you choose. It is when you decide to make the best of it, as it is, even when the choices are not what you want to hear. Instead, you take each day as a gift to unwrap and to make it happy as you share with others.”

The pictures tell a story in your mind right away. You have a vision without any words of red lights, blue lights, sirens sounding, voices yelling orders, people gathering, and silence in the ears of a man who comes to the site looking for his family he just left ten minutes ago.

Have you had to accept a decision, a change or an individual as a leader? The scene from our car crash can be the same kind of sounds and feelings inside you when faced with trying to accept change. Emotions drive our reactions.

It is emotional when you have to face acceptance of decisions you have no control over. It is our choice to have the mindset of learning acceptance. Change happens often! Things can happen that will transform who you are and have an impact on your life. The problem is that we need to cultivate the ability to accept whatever comes and embrace it truly. If we can begin now, it will help us as we continue to grow. Change can often impact our lives in ways to help us as we affect the lives of others.

My accident closed one door I did not want to close but opened others I enjoy as I explore. What change are you resistant to? If it is a change that questions your values, patriotism, beliefs, or morals, then this is not a change you need to accept. Acceptance is a big word to discuss as many changes are happening each day.

I have accepted my changes from the accident. Although, I will admit I have good days and days when I am angry that I am not the person I was. We are not perfect. I can think of many incidents in my life when I was asked to accept something I did not want to at all. Change comes with many lessons we can learn. What change do you face?

The Needs

When you wake up in the morning, the needs hit you right away! You have the need to get to the bathroom, find coffee, food of some kind, and find out the needs of the world around you!

If you have pets, children, spouses, or others in need of your attention, then you are already running late! It would help if you had been up hours ago, or maybe getting sleep is overrated. I was kidding!

I think you understand we live in a world where “the need” is at an all-time high. However, I believe need has been confused with some other words to make life harder for all of us.

A need is something to help provide a safe and healthy environment. We need clean air, water, land, food, clothes and safe environments in order to live. We may want to have the latest version of television, phone, gaming system, shoes from famous brands, and others wants. These wants and wishes are not essential to our health and well-being.

I, like many others, felt the loss of loved ones during the global pandemic. I did not feel the loss within my family, but distant relatives and friends. The needs of others were at an all-time high. We are so lucky to live in this country so needs could be met. Even then, it was not enough as we saw politics get in the way.

There is still a need and even bigger needs in our country. It is so important to look through all of the lenses to see the needs. When looking for solutions, you should always look at all viewpoints to fully understand.

One word echoes through clearly when we talk about addressing difficult topics…..the word is fear. Fear of the cancel culture, being labeled, having negative things said about you, and the list goes on. Well, I will tell you all of that can be true.

Assuming the responsibility of being a leader is a big job. If it were so great and easy, everyone would be one! I have been beaten up (not literally, although it felt like it) several times. Remember “the need.” Behavior is driven by need. Always start with why and what. Why are they?… What do they need?…

When you are faced with these situations it is easy to fall in line with similar behaviors of anger. Pause and remember not to take it personally (trust me, I know it is hard). There is always a reason behind the actions and reactions we take to situations we face. Everyone has a story.

I always like to reflect on words from Mother Teresa. She always provides me with the wisdom I “need.”

“See how nature-trees, flowers, grass-grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”~Mother Teresa

The world’s noise can be so loud we cannot hear the sounds of the needs calling from those so close to us. If we are quiet for a few moments, we can clearly hear the sounds coming from their hearts…the need! I hear the call, To be one nation under God. A desire to all live together in peace, harmony–equally in a safe and secure environment.

We have survived so much, won many battles, achieved so much, and have so much more to do together. Listen to the silent voices as they speak. Watch for the ways you can begin to help as you build trusting relationships. Leaders can be found in many places, not always with a title.

The story inside you


“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Maya Angelou

As a young child, I spent hours writing. I would write poems, wrote a daily journal, loved to write Bible verses, and would write songs for the church. My minister Rev. Leon Korb would sometimes share my songs or poems at church. He was always making me feel special. He was a special person in my life as he rests now in his heavenly home.

In high school, one of my teachers, Mr. Bob McMurray, challenged his high school students to set goals. He did more than teach academic skills. It was the life messages in the lessons that guided us in planning a solid foundation for our futures. He stayed connected with my husband and me into our adult lives. This month he would have celebrated his 74th birthday. I remain associated with his with Glenda, but Mr. McMurray is always present in my mind when I work on my book.

I have achieved all of the goals I wrote in his classroom except for one. I said I would write a book. I have written a book, but I have yet to publish it. I thought you write a book and publish it. No, there is so much more to publishing a book. I am learning about the entire process and meeting many amazing people.

So, Mr. Bob Mc Murray, I have many stories inside me I want to tell them, and I have great people helping me learn the way. My turn is coming soon, and I thank you for planting the seed. As I know you are watching over all of us, I will do my best. It has been a long process, and we still have a way to go, but I never give up on things I say I will do no matter what!

I have been blessed by so many. The courage to share your stories with others is enormous! The regret of not trying is significant as well. So we are working to make sure I can find success when we say let’s go! Building a solid following is a priority, and I am trying hard to accomplish this goal.

There is a story inside all of us we need to share. Maybe you don’t want to write and share it with the world, but a story for your loved ones to remember a piece of family history. Documenting personal history as well as overall history helps all of us learn, appreciate and grow.

Helping others is always my priority. Living life for a cause, never applause, keeps you focused on doing what is right and best for others. The goal of the book is not to check a box that I wrote a book, to have financial gain(my author friends are laughing now), becoming famous, or so everyone knows my name. It is because one teacher, one classroom, one school, believed in one student by saying, “Great goals, and I know you will accomplish each one.” I sure will!

Be the solution daily, and you will be the one who makes the change in another today. Thank you for all you do. To all the teachers who do this daily, thank you! My Mrs. Teresa Arnold was the best teacher, and I always tell her, “thank you for helping to make things better for me every day!”

Fundamental Friday

In our lives we have fundamental things, activities and principles that are important to us. We can believe strongly in some as an essential part of who we are or part of our purpose of being.

People seeking meaning beyond themselves seem to be happier, healthier, and live longer. I have no data to confirm that statement, only my observations. I like to think of myself in the category of seeking meaning beyond myself and in service to others. I am happy; I have had some health issues, but I am in remission, which has been a big positive. I have also had some near misses to death resulting in living longer. According to my formula, it works!

The fundamental definition is – serving as a basis supporting existence or determining essential structure or function. Looking at the four pillars of the fundamental parts to our life is : Happiness, Self-Care, Relationships and Health

Take out a calculator and do this quick math calculation. This is “life math.” -Guide to Unlocking the Power of Purpose by Richard Leider

  • Multiply your age x365__________.
  • Then, subtract that number from 30,000, an average life expectancy.
  • Divide that number by 365_______
  • Now you are clear that you have _____more years to live. What will you do?

I know you have heard me say before, but I will repeat it: “Every day is a gift full of opportunities to unwrap.” I repeat phrases and words a great deal. I believe it is important in order to help reinforce the ideas to those you are serving, coaching and modeling for each day. My staff called them “Yohoisims.”

  • “Make it a great day or not the choice is yours to make”
  • “It is what it is, so it will be”
  • “We don’t know what we don’t know, do we”
  • “You have one foot on the outside and mine on your backside if you do not make some positive changes.”
  • “Do you know why you are tired? You bark all day.”
  • Many others to share but enough of the Yoho for today.

Look at your four fundamental areas and decide what improvements you can make. The following years of your life should fundamentally be full of “FUN” “DAily”/ “MENTAL” “Learning”/ “Yourself”-focusing on happiness, self-care, relationships, and health.

Always learning

“Mom, can you pick up the kids at school on Thursday for me? Just bring them and meet me at my school so I can get them to their practice. Alex is going to get Alden from his school.”

I love every chance I get to be with the grandchildren. They are the best! Abram is the first one out and in the car. We go through our usual greetings and begin our conversation about how the day was at school.

Abram is not a typical kindergarten student, in my opinion. In fact, I would say he is one of a kind. He explains in detail all of the learning taking place in his classroom. Abram tells me about all of the long vowel sounds, the words they are learning, and the difference in the sounds of short and long vowel sounds. He moves onto math when we see his sister Aubrey trying to spot our car.

Aubrey joins in the conversation, but being in middle school, she does not have the details her brother was eager to share. Then Abram makes the best aha statement as a lesson for all in the car!

“You know when I am in my classroom; I raise my hand all of the time even if I am not sure of the answer. Other kids don’t raise their hands. I think even if I get it wrong, I am still learning, and you should always try.”

Aubrey was shaking her head, no. People will make fun of you when you are my age.

Abram, they shouldn’t because everyone is learning. You should always ask questions and try to answer them. I am going to do that all of the time. I like learning.

The influence of others has an impact on how we respond to situations. Aubrey has changed schools several times. She has only been at this school for a short time. It isn’t easy to establish yourself in a community school when kids have been together for years, and you are the new kid. She is working towards building confidence, but she is not there yet.

Abram started school new like everyone else. Plus, as I started, he is unique. He can analyze every situation and come up with his version of a solution. I am not going to say it is always right, but he is never afraid to try. He says, “Hey guys, I have an idea.”

I am so thankful for the excellent teachers they have and have had in their educational journey. They are both exceptional students who feel comfortable with their teachers and administrators. It is a beautiful blessing to have positives when you hear terrible stories of teachers. The news makes you think all teachers are doing a terrible job. Well, I know so many that are doing an exceptional job!

Encourage questions, praise risk-taking, allow innovative solutions and creativity. We do not want our children to be answers getters but solution seekers. Lift them to seek out more in learning than just getting an answer correct.

“MooMoo, how do they make shoes?” (Yes, my grandchildren call me MooMoo it is a long story, but my husband started the name thing. It’s okay. Unique, just like them!)

I am not sure which shoes you are talking about because they all use different materials. Let’s investigate and do some research!

Be the solution daily by being present in the moments to help them grow in many ways! Thank you for all you do!

Best practice to Effective practice: Always changing to grow!

We all work to improve, be better, and implement best practices. We read, look at the research, apply our knowledge and experience. In discussions with our colleagues and our relationships with others, we learn how these practices are working. All of our efforts work together, along with a sound implementation plan to make continuous improvements as needs change.

As we bring a new program, practice, or approach, we establish a plan of implementation. The plan design monitors the progression by benchmark assessments. We are looking at all aspects of learning and teaching for positive results. We know it is working when the results tell us it is.

There is some resistance to changes, but we know to grow, we have to change. Best practices evolve as we discover new approaches. Professional Development is an essential piece to the puzzle of best practice to effective practice. Not only do we have to have a continuous plan of improvement for our curriculum and methods, but also in our training.

The global pandemic caused change quickly with no time to prepare. As educators responded with placing safety first as a priority, teachers and students began a virtual plan.

EdWeek Research Center reports, “The pandemic revealed that schools need to place a lot more emphasis on teaching the following soft skills to better prepare students for the future world of work:”

  • Working independently
  • time management
  • intrinsic motivation/self-starter
  • paying attention in a remote context
  • resilience
  • communicating in an online context
  • collaborating in a remote context
  • troubleshooting technical problems
  • ability to apply knowledge in different situations
  • managing/controlling emotions

These skills listed appear in the order of priority, according to their report. What skills are you focusing on in your instruction? Do you believe these are correct? Could we add it to the list?

Helping students build skills they need to increase learning on their journey is essential, but also remember to enhance their abilities to be leaders!

RESOURCES

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Through the cracks, Don’t let them go!

As a teacher, have you ever been moved or gotten a new principal? Me too! It is a little scary because you don’t know them and they don’t know you. What do you do? Well, teach, like you always have!

Making his rounds, the principal makes his way to my classroom. He pauses in the doorway, looking around and not sure what was going on. Some students were at the computer station (3 Apple IIGS showing my age here), some at the reading station, others working at desks, some with me. Students moved to deliver completed work to the designated bins for completion, and everyone was on task, but it was a little noisy.

The principal asked if he could speak with me. “What is going on in here?”

I explained, learning. I do things a little differently. You will not find my desks in rows; they will be doing something different all of the time, but they are learning. I wanted to let you know we will turn our history book into a recorded video of a radio station called “History Rocks at Ridge Farm Elementary.” The students are dividing the chapters, writing the scripts, designing assessments, and creating game show trivia for the radio—lots of fun and learning.

The principal did not know what to think but looked around and saw for himself learning in action. Kids need to be actively involved in the learning process, have help in the design, and most importantly, everyone should be having fun!

Published in 1994 The authors of the book are Barbara Emmons, Carolyn Sollman and Judith Paolini

Through the Cracks is one of my favorite books I have used in the past for professional development. This book reminds all of us about the teaching and learning process. Children become frustrated and disengaged in school settings that do not always meet their needs. The book’s pages walk you through a glimpse of classrooms as elements promote the shrinking of students from learning to then grow. What is the secret?

Accountability is our next step in our SHARE process for the school level, according to Eric Jensen. When the principal made his way to visit my classroom, he was making sure I was teaching. He is accountable for all of the students in the school. As a teacher, I am responsible for the students I am teaching. However, as a team, we are accountable for all together!

“Passion comes from feeling responsible and accountable for results, which means it’s the rigor, intensity, and duration of enriching education you provide that matters.”-Eric Jensen, Teaching with Poverty in Mind pg.82. Every day, hour, and minute counts we have with our students to help them grow. I had a student when I became principal who could imitate me perfectly.

“This is the level of my expectations for all of us, not down here. We are here. I will not lower it for anyone. We are all here.”

Expect the best from everyone, including yourself. “If you are serious about helping students from poverty to succeed, keep this in mind: your 1,260 hours, you have to be so spectacular that they can over-come the other 7,500 hours in your students’ lives.”-Eric Jensen, Teaching with Poverty in Mind pg 83 Now, can you do it?

“Children who grow up in poverty often live in environments that offer less support and stability. (Evans, 2004). Research shows that home and community environments that increase stress lower the development of cognitive flexibility, and the early formation of cognitive flexibility is critical for the long-term prognosis of the skill.”-Horacio Sanchez, The Poverty Problem, pg. 40. Children need cognitive flexibility as it supports problem-solving and allows them to look at issues from different perspectives.

We have lots to unwrap, learn and understand as we serve our children, families, and communities. It is essential to comprehend our accountability level. Take time to reflect on yourself today. Where do you stand with yourself? Always be true to yourself and what you stand for. The world today is making things very difficult as the division line becomes more vital with this “cancel culture.” Please do not find yourself falling through the cracks but crawling to the light to stand up bright for those who need you! People only have power if we give it to them.

ACTION STEPS

Reflect, Review and Renew yourself!

Celebrate Staff! A great book I just read was Love’em or Lose’em by Bev Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans great to add to your list! I want to let you know to make it authentic! I loved to celebrate individuals! Not everyone wants a public celebration; they may want something more private.

School-wide Decision making if you are not already doing this as a practice. If you are review and who are on your teams? Make sure it is reflective of all voices.

Common Planning times-What do your planning times look like?

There are many things to check, but this is a great start! It is critical to self-reflect first. Think about where you are right now. Watching news media, it seems they are saying many have fallen through the cracks. What do we do about it? We have solutions! Painting pictures in a negative light makes us use a bigger brush!

Thank you for being the solution daily! http://www.bethesolutiondaily.com #Bethesolutiondaily