Category: Mental Health

Hope, Do you have it? Can you teach it?

As we all faced the pandemic, the ripple effect across the country continues with mixed messages on what to expect. Will we go back to “normal?” What is that anyway? Everyone has a different opinion. It is not clear moving forward what will happen in education, the business world, or travel.

The vaccine is being received by many, but still, others are not sure and are not taking it. We see states lifting their restrictions, while others are remaining with regulations. There seems not to be a clear understanding if you are entirely vaccinated if you continue to wear a mask. Do you wear one mask, two, three, or none?

When you have so many uncertainties facing you, the development of a lack of hope begins. How can we help our children have hope if we may not have it? Checking our mental health and self-care is essential before we can help others. The best way to begin is always talking about it. In Schools Finding Hope at a Hopeless Time by Nora Fleming, “Research shows that hope is a measurable, learnable skill-and to feel hopeful, students and teachers have to work at it.”

Can you remember where you were when 9/11 happened? I can! I was standing in front of a classroom full of 5th-grade students. An individual came to my classroom and told me the news, I took a deep breath and knew my responsibility was to make sure I could convey the truth of what just happened, and we were safe. I spent time addressing the topic by studying other countries and cultures and building the twin towers by scale.

Helping children understand as much as we can during stressful times is critical for their reactions. It has to be unbiased, based on facts about the situation. Then they can begin to process responses—a shift in their mindset, establishing goals and capturing these days as moments. Reading the article in Edutopia called Schools Finding Hope in Hopeless Times will provide more information to support building hope. “Hope is cognition and leading motivation that pushes people to act towards their goals. It’s a skill we have to work on and one that we can grow.”-Crystal Bryce, the associate director of research at the Center for Advanced Study and Practice of Hope at Arizona State University.

https://www.edutopia.org/article/schools-finding-hope-hopeless-time

I always find creative ways to engage staff and students in a solution-focused approach to any topic we discuss. I applaud this school’s efforts from a few years ago with a unique way of asking staff and students what they hope. What can you do in building hope? Please read this post and leave a comment on what you hope. 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

Through the window

“The good things in life are better with you in it.” These are the words on the heart sitting on the ledge of the window next to my chair. I love to sit in my chair and watch the clouds, blue skies, birds flying, rain as it waters the grass, or snowflakes as they dance in the wind. No matter the season, the view from the window provides me with the heartfelt warmth I need! I reflect on the things that are important in life as the birds sing. Sometimes I will see deer, rabbits, and other animals, but it is interrupted by the traffic or tractors during farming times!

We planted two trees just outside my window. One I can see now as its branches reach up towards the heavens. It reminds me of the tree we planted for my mom for her birthday before I was married. I can remember looking out of the window at that tree right before I went out to hug everyone goodbye. My new husband Zeke and I would be heading to the state of New York as he reported to the Navy to finish his training. Did I mention I was 19 years old and had never been away from home? It was kind of a big scary moment for everyone, I think! The tree seemed to understand as it stood up tall and did not make a move. Branches are reaching up as a reminder to stand tall, keep your head up and always look to the heaves for your guidance. I have followed those rules for 36 years and counting!

This is the window my grandkids look through at my house. It is a reading space with crates of books, pillows a set of binoculars to watch the birds and a place just for them.

When you look through your window, what do you see? If you do not see things clearly or something to encourage, lift or provide guidance, move; look through a different window. Maybe you need to get in the car and look through those windows. Go to a favorite place and look out of their windows. Find the windows that provide what you need.

Do you ever wonder what kind of windows your staff looks through? It isn’t easy to see all points of view when you have always looked through the same window. What do we see when we look through your classroom windows? Office windows?

When your students walk into your classroom or school, have you ever thought about their windows, and perhaps they do not have any? Can they look through a window? Is the bus window the only one they can look through, or the one in the classroom? What do they get to see?

Curiosity, imagination, hope, dreams, and so much can be lost if we do not take the time to learn to turn off the noise and turn on the mind to learn to see through all of the windows we are provided in life.

We have many opportunities to help those we serve each day to expand their well-being and provide resources to encourage them to always believe in more. A door never closes until we shut it. We can always look through the window to see things differently, and sometimes we may need to open it to new possibilities! Together in working, achieving, and believing, we can do all things.

Front door may close but through the window you can always see opportunities are possibilities when we seek to see! #Bethesolutiondaily

Thank you for being part of the solution daily! Help each other daily. Please do not rush to place judgment; gather all of the facts before you react, and the way I look should never define who I am. Mental health needs are what is needed today. If you know someone is in need please call for help.

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

You are invited

“Who are you?”

I am Mrs. Yoho, the new Principal. I hope we have a chance to get to know each other, Elijah.

As we began the year, I got to know Elijah well. He was in Foster Care, and his sister was in a different home. Elijah was angry, trauma was a big part of this little boy’s life, and we were planning to do all we could to help.

Elijah came to seek me out daily (multiple times). We had a behavior chart in place, a check-in and connect system. Sometimes he would walk into my office and, with no words, just come over to get a hug. I had a box full of treats always for kids to get snacks from when needed.

Elijah would run from the school and be out of control. I understood him. His world was so frustrating for him. It was hard to determine what would trigger outbursts, but they would come. “I want to be with my sister.” I know you do, Elijah.

Elijah and I would be separated for a short time, but I always checked on him. I even had opportunities to check on his sister in another school in our district. Elijah changed Foster homes for the final time and was making gains. He found his way to middle school with me.

I truly enjoyed each day as he continued to gain. His personality was charming. My little Elijah was winning the battle and succeeding. I was so proud of him. We were able to have many conversations over the years, and his new family had decided to adopt him. He was so excited. We talked about how wonderful things were for him.

Building relationships is essential to helping students in dealing with trauma. Talking with them to find out what they need is critical in finding solutions. Implementation of a plan with key people involved secures success. Our team did an excellent job!

“Mrs. Yoho, my mom wants me to give this to you. We want to know if you could come to the courthouse to be part of my adoption. It would mean a great deal if you could.”

I know my mouth had to be wide open. I could hear my words in my head but could not speak; I was in shock. Finally, I heard myself say; I will come to be part of this day. What an honor!

We all gathered in the courtroom as the judge made it official. Elijah was officially the son and brother. The new family was all smiles, tears, and hugs.

As I watched, I thought, this is why we do all of the “extra” things, stay late, design plans, review data, and the list goes on. All of those details are essential, but it is the relationships that are critical—a treasured memory for me.

Thank you for being part of the solution daily. We have so many educators, families and organizations helping! Many blessings to each of you in your continued efforts.

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

SHARE it is a great way to begin!

Eric Jensen is one of my favorite authors in regard to the topic of addressing poverty. His approach made a great deal of sense to me. Brain based approach to the problem seemed to be the solution! It made sense to me and still does! There are many more layers to resolve and address, but from the educational lens brain-based is the best!

“Poverty is transforming the brains of children and adults at an alarming rate and with devastating results.” -Horacio Sanchez, The Poverty Problem I just began reading this book, and I will share more from it as we continue to work. Poverty is a problem that has been with us for decades. Our country went through the Great Depression, we have had recessions, and now a global pandemic. I believe solutions have been tried to “fix” the idea that this problem was temporary and was never to be a way of life. Instead we have some “fixed” mindsets we need to address.

Policymakers will have to make some changes as well as some others, but education is the one holding the biggest key to the door to solutions. “The solution to the problem will require creative new strategies firmly rooted in neuroscience research. Education has to have a sound strategy to address poverty that include modifying school climate, instruction, curriculums, social and emotional training and support services.” -Sanchez, The Poverty Problem

Let’s start with a school focus first and Jensen’s SHARE factors for school-based. I will remind you they are Support for the Whole Child, Hard Data, Accountability, Relationship Building and Enrichment Mind-Set. As a former principal of a high poverty middle school, we did this book as a staff book study. We did several things to prepare as we went along. I will provide you with all of those materials and updated ones as well. The first step before you begin is to allow your staff time to understand what poverty is, remember the why they became a teacher, how they see students, families and each other. I have activities we will do together and you can do with staff.

Support the whole child. What does that mean or look like? Children right now are experiencing trauma. The world for them has changed, is changing, and will continue to change. They could have stressors from different things; we are never sure. Why don’t we ask them? Students are almost always left out of these conversations! It is my biggest plea to everyone, please stop! Education is something we do with children not to them. Survey the children, interview them or whatever you feel is the best way to get the answers. Meet their needs! Let me tell you what I did with the help of my teams.

Our social worker, psychologist, teachers all did some questioning with kids they had relationships with. I spoke to kids and families as well. Then I began to make phone calls to organizations and friends I had within those places. We made space available in our school, created a working schedule and two outside agencies came in to help children. We had a drug and alcohol counselor and a mental health provider. We were beginning to do some solution meetings with the county truancy officer, along with agency help to work with families to get what was needed.

ACTION

Survey or interview students on what their needs are

Connect with outside agencies to see how they can support your school

Establish a family council if you do not have one to find their needs. Check my resource page on my website for materials to help. I will continue to add to the resources on the website.

Thank you for being the solution daily!

This is for you! #Bethesolutiondaily

Finding Facts, Adding Value to what you need as you read!

Books always surround me! They are everywhere! I have highlighted, tagged and read some of my books so much they are falling apart! My signed copy of Teaching with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen has pages falling out.

I consult often with others for feedback. Let’s face it don’t we all need it! I don’t care what kind I get right now just anything to help me know if what I am doing is helping someone.

So I sent an email to Daniel Bauer. He does not know me. Yes, I send things to people I don’t know; how else will you grow if you don’t ask. He answered with a blog post. Who knew that is what he would do? He helped me, and I am sure others who may be afraid to ask, don’t be! Here is the blog link. https://t.co/Xie8xgOCnI

I have asked a few others, and they confirm the same things from his blog. Be real, Focus on service, Be consistent, write for yourself first, and then that one person! Most importantly, never take yourself too seriously!

You are the reason I write! I have nothing I am selling but giving. My hope someday is to publish my book but not to gain profits or fame. It is to help you! My career ended before I wanted because of one day, one choice, and one crash, leaving injuries to last a lifetime. I miss children, teachers, leaders, parents, and community members. I loved being a principal and part of education!

Now I will organize a time daily the blog post will come out to know when to expect it. The blog post will be posted daily at 9:30 a.m. Central Time. We will see if that time works for everyone. I will provide you with current information on topics to help leaders and teachers support each other and the children they serve. We will address Poverty, Social-Emotional Learning, Mental Health, Equity, and how to move forward in this sea of confusion from the global pandemic. Let’s get started!

In Federal Poverty Threshold, Who really is poor in America by Kimberly Amadeo https://www.thebalance.com/federal-poverty-threshold-3305793

I found some things to help us on our journey of learning, reflection, review and action. In order to be the solution, you have to identify the problem, reflect on what has been done, what is working, and create an action plan. Then face the problem and take action. Do it!

Key Takeaways from Who really is poor in America

  • The federal poverty threshold is the measurement of poverty in America, based on several economic factors having to do with total family income.
  • According to the U.S. Census, the official poverty rate in 2019 was 10.5%.
  • Over 41% of those living in poverty were white, while about 28% were Hispanic, 24% were Black, and 4% were Asian.
  • Research shows there is a high correlation between education and income.

The effects of the global pandemic have caused many changes in our families across our nation. In your school, district or community, have you seen an increase in the number of people without jobs? Business closings? Do you have a reduction in student enrollment? Why? Do you have an increased number of homelessness?

As you reflect on the changes in your area, what are steps that have been taken to help locally? “Common issues in low-income families include: depression, chemical dependence, and hectic work schedules-all factors that interfere with the healthy attachments that foster children’s self-esteem, sense of mastery of their environment, and optimistic attitudes.”-Eric Jenson

Poor children often feel isolated; they drop out of school and do not perform well academically because of their stressors. Our children are all facing that during this pandemic as they have been isolated at various lengths of times, lacked excitement in learning with issues in technology, feeling stress from family work or no work, and uncertainty in safety as health and violence are in question.

Unemployment Surge 

In April 2020, the U.S. economy lost an astonishing 20.8 million jobs.11 Many states required non-essential businesses to shut down. Bars, restaurants, and hotels suffered the most, as people stopped traveling and restaurants could only offer take-out and delivery. Hospitals lost jobs as they stopped elective procedures to make way for COVID-19 patients. Retail also suffered as shoppers moved online.

Prior to the shutdown, the economy was adding around 200,000 jobs a month. It needs about 150,000 new jobs each month to keep expanding.

Job losses sent the April unemployment rate skyrocketing to 14.7%. It remained in the double digits until August, ending the year at. 6.7%12

The Fed projects that unemployment will fall to a healthy 5.0% in 2021.9

Reference for additional information: https://www.thebalance.com/recession-2020-4846657#:~:text=The%202020%20recession%20is%20the,added%20back%20into%20the%20economy.

ACTION

In order to change, we must change- Identity your problems and let’s face them

Brains can change! I suffer from a Traumatic Brain Injury and was expected to not…. let’s not go there because I can so can they! Begin a plan not on remediation for children but for discovery! Discover where they are and keep going!

Implementation of SHARE! This comes from Eric Jensen in his book Teaching with Poverty in Mind.

Support the Whole Child

Hard Data

Accountability

Relationship Building

Enrichment Mind-Set

We will continue with more facts, tools and resources as we continue! Thank you for being the solution daily!