Category: Principals and Teachers Network

Dream, Believe, Achieve, Dare-Do

There are many great men and women in our history we can celebrate, learn from, respect and model our actions. This week we began with a man famous for his speech, “I have a dream.” Dr. Martin Luther King not only had a dream he believed in, but he also believed in what could be achieved if we dared to do what he perfectly stated!

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

“I have a dream today . . .
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning. “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that. Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside. Let freedom ring . . .
When we allow freedom to ring—when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men, and white men, Jews, and Gentiles, Protestants, and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, We are free at last.”
Reprinted by arrangement with The Heirs to the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr., c/o Writers House as the proprietor New York, NY. Copyright: © 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. © renewed 1991, Coretta Scott King.

Also in our history are individuals or groups that made horrible mistakes, took steps, believed in things, and did things they achieved we do not find acceptable. We learned from those as well. It is essential to talk about all of them and build from the learning we discover, not divide, hide or devalue anyone as we move forward. I am thankful for all historians who have and continue to document for us these pieces, which are so valuable. If you have not explored museums, read some of these fantastic books, or speak to individuals who have experienced first-hand some of the historical events, don’t wait. I have been blessed to talk with military veterans Holocaust survivors and visit several museums.

Dream, Believe, Dare and Do is the business practice utilized by Disney. I incorporated this mindset in my approach to serving students in education. Walt Disney was a master at creating environments full of happiness, love, fun, and excitement. He was a servant leader, I believe.

Students in our care need to have dreams! Our staff does as well! The schoolhouse should be a place full of opportunities. Our beliefs in ourselves and each other push us to achieve! When we dare to take risks, think outside the box, and do the work, we find success.

I plan for all to believe; Two Rules can achieve great success for all who dare to do the work to implement the philosophy in their lives. Keep connecting, reading, and thinking! #Bethesolutiondaily

What made your list of leadership qualities to have in 2022?

Being a leader in 2022 is the same, different, or we don’t know? Do the qualities and skills need to be the same? What are your thoughts? Do we need different leadership qualities? What is the most important quality for a leader? Why?

I believe a job title does not define leadership. Leadership is part of our lives at different stages and areas. We provide opportunities for children to explore, experience, and engage in leadership. We have many lists of characteristics and qualities created over many decades to identify excellent leaders. Has leadership changed? Do the qualities change? How can we help children grow to become great leaders?

We need your help! Tell us what qualities do great leaders need.

It takes Wisdom, Wit and Essential Skills to Lead

Leaders are essential to organizations now more than at any other time. The skills needed for leaders to help staff and students grow include: Organizing Cultivating Motivating Empowerment Encouragement Vision Commitment Dedication Balance Trust Collaborative Influence Inspiration Courage There are several more you could add … Continue reading It takes Wisdom, Wit and Essential Skills to Lead

Solution Weekly

You Matter!

What a privilege I had this past week to help an organization that helped to instill in me the qualities of leadership needed for a successful career. For an organization to grow and to continue to thrive after 50 years is fantastic! The takeaways from the conference are many, but the most important one is, You Matter.

There has been no other time in history where leaders have had to do so many things, so fast, change again, and then change again. Oh wait, we have a few more things for you to do. COVID-19 brought illness, heartache, challenges, and heroes.

Tips and Techniques

Build a classroom for “working learners.”

  • Begin with a blueprint for your workers
  • Provide them with the tools they need
  • Encourage them to look over the blueprints, ask “why” questions to get to the “what” and “ how” of the process
  • Workers need to take their work personally and need to have power in influencing the environment and control of their future.
  • Completing the work on one project can be applied to other projects. Helping workers understand and to see how their learned skills can transfer.
  • Collaboration and teaching each other build skills to strengthen understanding and deepen learning.
  • Looking for solutions, investigating, testing, and analyzing provides workers with opportunities to discover how to question rather than solve. Sometimes solving for a correct answer only misses out on additional learning opportunities.
  • An essential part of “building” is constantly checking to assess the effectiveness and performance, giving feedback, reflecting on work, and determining what works and does not.

Wisdom & Wit

While at the Illinois Principal Conference this past week, I had the honor of hearing from two excellent speakers! Gerry Brooks, author of Go See the Principal: True Tales from the School Trenches, and Luis Cruz, co-author of Time for Change Essential Skills for Transformational School and District Leaders. If you have not watched any of Gerry Brooks’s videos, please do, and yes, he is that funny in person. Please grab a copy of his book as well. Luis Cruz was funny, but his story and dedication to the audience were touching to me. He personalized his talk with the principals and emphasized, “You Matter.” He gave many examples on how to change the description of your title to include many of the things these fantastic leaders do each day. Please pick up his book, get him to come to your school to speak, and follow him on social media.

Leadership

Under the direction of Executive Director Dr. Jason Leahy, the Illinois Principals Association provides a wealth of resources. It supports leaders across the state and with others who have joined forces with them. Please feel free to check out their website. They provide space for school leaders to connect and share resources helping to keep collaboration and networking going. In addition, an Ed Leaders Network hosting 130+ courses, opportunities to post questions, share best practices, and engage with others.

The growth of this organization is because of outstanding leadership, clear vision, a definite purpose, and dedication to core values and beliefs. I am blessed to be a member of this Association since 2003 and proud of all the accomplishments.

Leaders not managers, Managers are Leaders

I do not know about you, but the words leader and manager are confusing! I did not understand these different roles at all until I was involved with the Wallace Foundation. As a Principal, I had the opportunity to work with them on the SAM’s project (School Administrator Manager). https://www.wallacefoundation.org/principal-story/pages/sam-project.aspx

Managers are the key to the success of the day-to-day operations of your organization. These are the leaders who people are directly reporting to and need immediate help to complete tasks. They are detailed oriented and initiate strategies to solve problems.

Leaders are looking at the organization’s vision or “the big picture” to help move the organization forward. Solution-focused and embraces change. Motivates others, inspires, and builds trust for all to feel confident in following them.

Leaders and managers share many of the same characteristics. In addition, they also have the same goal. They both want the organization to be the best. What I learned from working with the SAM’s project is that you, as the leader need to give the manager duties to others to focus on the priorities. Because in education, the leader of the school is responsible for being both! It seems Principals can spend too much time being the manager instead of being the leader!

Develop a plan on who will be in the acting role as your SAM. It is important to check your contracts on how this can be done. We were able to hire a part-time position. It can be designed in many different ways. The link above will provide you with a wealth of information. The goal is to help you to reduce the amount of time on your calendar you spend on manger things to increase to improving teaching and learning.

  • Scheduling athletic events-(Secretary, Coach, Athletic Director)
  • Scheduling Parent activities-(Rotate grade levels)
  • Checking on building needs-(Department heads report needs to office secretary-Kitchen shortage, Buses late, Sub-Shortage-Building Grounds-bathroom out of order)
  • Try to take phone calls or meetings. People always want to talk to the Principal, but sometimes the issue can be solved in other ways
  • Protect your time. Making sure the instructional observations and time on your calendar is protected.

There are many other examples, ideas, and suggestions at the Wallace Foundation link above. Explore it for ideas and start with some small steps. Improving your time with teaching and learning will inspire everyone to work towards this goal.

We are inspired!

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Did someone inspire you to be where you are today in your career or life? I reflect over mine and can identify several points of time where individuals inspired me, encouraged me, and pushed me—so blessed by each one.

“Mark Cole began his career working for John Maxwell 21 years ago. It was an inauspicious start for the man who would go on to be Chief Executive Officer of The John Maxwell Company and his nine organizations.” Mark started in the mailroom.

Bill Dodd shared a great post that follows along with my philosophy of solution-focused leadership. You can read the post about Mark Cole by clicking on his picture below. I pulled from the article the Four Questions all leaders must ask and How to view Leadership Problems. I added my idea of How to be Solution-Focused.

4 Questions All Leaders Must Ask

  1. When is the last time I learned something for the first time?
  2. When is the last time I did something for the first time?
  3. When is the last time I found something better for the first time?
  4. When is the last time I saw something bigger for the first time?

How To View Leadership Problems

  • P – Predictors are a picture of what type of person you are.
  • R – Reminders that life is tough. Leadership is demonstrated under challenging times.
  • O – Opportunity will make you and other people better.
  • B – Blessings. Problems sometimes point you in a more beneficial direction.
  • L – Lesson. What did I learn from this problem?
  • E – Everywhere. Even before COVID, problems were everywhere.
  • M – Message. In every problem, there is a takeaway.
  • S – Solvable. Every problem has a solution.

How to be Solution-Focused

  • Seeking first to answer “why.”
  • Observations of what has been done before, what is happening now, and what is working
  • Listen to all possible solutions
  • Use the best solution selected by the team
  • Try the solution selected, track, assess, and evaluate
  • Implement a different solution if the first one did not have the desired outcome
  • Open-mindedness brings many ideas to the solution
  • Never believe a problem is without a solution

People who have a leadership mindset love solving problems. Every problem is an opportunity to learn and grow. Real leaders know there’s always an answer. Most of the time, there are multiple answers. When you focus first on solutions, we will get more solutions. After spending time on generating ideas for solutions, save them for your next brainstorming session?

COVID taught us to take problems and solve them. If we keep looking at problems, we will keep getting more. COVID does not seem to be going away and continues to be one of those topics that will generate a great deal of debate. Our debate should only be on ideas for solutions.

Teaching Inspiration and Exhaustion

#Bethesolutiondaily

If you are in the teaching profession today, why? Why did you become a teacher? Most likely, you have a vision of individuals who inspired you to dive into this profession. It is the inspiration that often leads us into the lifelong career paths we find ourselves in today.

Jennifer Gonzalez at Cult of Pedagogy is one of the thought leaders I have followed for several years. I utilized her website/blogs as part of my new teacher mentoring program and, as a principal, sent her tips out in messages to staff.

The piece I am sharing today is comprehensive and follows my philosophy of being the solution daily. Often we identify problems, talk about them, stare at them, and they continue to thrive. Action steps involving change are the catalysts for actual solutions.

As a leader, I have never been offended by her posts. She is straightforward, has strong opinions, and you can judge for yourself if you want to view more. Please take a little time to read her post. It is powerful to me.

As a teacher who worked countless hours then as an administrator, clocking in, even more, I relate to the feeling of exhaustion! I did all my work before COVID, so I know I would not have survived. Blessings to all of our educators!

Solution Weekly

October 24–31

Stay Motivated

Every day is an opportunity! You will hear me say this often. It is a gift you unwrap each morning to use in any way you choose. What are the choices you will make today to help be the solution daily?

Teaching Tip

If you are in the teaching profession today, why? Why did you become a teacher? Most likely, you have a vision of individuals who inspired you to dive into this profession. It is the inspiration that often leads us into the lifelong career paths we find ourselves in today.

Looking at your classroom today, you have seated in your room many different career paths. You may be looking at someone who will be standing in your spot one day. I know my teachers would never have guessed the career path I have made, and you can’t either. However, you can do what teachers did for you! Your teachers inspired you! Students’ excitement should rarely exceed our own- unless a student arrives with a strong interest in what we are teaching. If you have a student who shows up like this, then capture this and generate energy to get everyone excited!

Wisdom

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do we reflect on how we were inspired to do what we do and why? Who is asking the students in your classroom the questions about inspiration? Who are their influences? What are we doing to help them find inspiration?

Leadership

Leaders have many responsibilities and essential aspects involved in the role of a leader. The list of tasks to complete daily to operate ( manage) the operations daily can be overwhelming. Administrators in school-level buildings have little time left for the essential piece of their role; teaching and learning.

So how can a leader balance all of the manager’s duties and essential pieces of their responsibility? There are many ways but let’s start with the basics. “The 21 Responsibilities and Day-to-Day Management of a School” (Marzano, Waters, McNulty, School Leadership that Works pg.98)

  • Develop a strong school leadership team
  • Distribute some responsibilities throughout the leadership team
  • Select the right work
  • Identify the order of magnitude implied by the selected work
  • Match the management style to the order of magnitude of the change

Many blessings to you this week! I look forward to your comments, questions, ideas, and thoughts. Conversations are shared to bring about possibilities of new ideas, thoughts, and solutions to problems. This week I have been asked to help out at the Illinois Principal Conference. This takes me back to my beginning as a leader. There will be many familiar faces but so many new leaders. I am blessed to return and to see the excitement this conference brings.

Create the roads, Clear the Path

Friday Focus-Leadership

Each day we are reminded of the importance of many things, but leadership is essential in every aspect of life. Leadership is the deciding factor of accomplishing the work, goals, and delivery of success to every component in our chain of command.

Make people feel important who work for you, with you, or come in contact with you. Leadership is about motivating others. Show genuine concern for and interest in the lives of your team members, as well as those you serve. Thank them for a job well done – even if it’s a small job.

Validation, respect, and compassion are ways to let your team know you appreciate them. I took time to explore comments made on a Twitter feed from a question posed to a teaching group. The question was: What else can be done to help stop the rapid burnout for teachers? Covid is responsible for the changes of instruction, shutdowns, mandates imposed by the government, but it was not part of all the answers given. The responses were to: Give us more support, value us, show us compassion for our losses, and it continued with similar statements. I heard similar pleas a few years ago in my position as Director of Education Support Programs. The addition of the stress from Covid-19 has added a layer to an already stressed system

What can you do to help your staff or coworkers?

Tips to Help and Support

  • Listen-take time to actively listen to others. Seek them out in their comfort zones and ask, “How are you doing, and what can I help with?”
  • Don’t make a promise- We want to help, but some things are not in our control. Do not make promises you cannot keep. Listening is always a significant first step. There are always a few things we can do.
  • Drop little notes of encouragement on desks after you have visited.
  • Write personal thank you letters and mail to homes.
  • Please get to know what their favorites are and place one on their desk when they need a pick me up.
  • Know their birthdays and send cards.
  • Speak to, say hello, learn everyone’s name and display it as you greet them daily.
  • Notice everything! “Love your haircut!” “Great smile today!”
  • Partner with others- People are willing to help each other when there is a need. Brainstorm ideas together of things to do and people who can support. Here are a few things to think about:
    • Date night for families- Host an evening where child care is taken care of so families can have a few hours together. A rotation within your organization can accomplish this by trading off who participates. One family enjoys date night; the other is helping with the child care activities in a central location.
    • Wellness Weekend- Work with area businesses to gain free access to massages, nail care, workouts, yoga class, or healthcare checkup.
    • Book study group-Professional of Personal fun books
    • Let’s talk-Groups get together to have conversations about work, home, and life
  • Do not fake! Please do not try to fake any of these connections and emotions. Be authentic in your delivery of all of these supports for staff and those you serve. If you are not, it will have the opposite result for you.

Together we travel the road of life. As the road receives many travelers, we need to support each other on these worn-out paths to clear the way for a successful journey. Life is a journey, not a destination. We need each other for continued support to our final destination.

Safe travels to each one and blessings to those seeking to be the solution daily on the road to success.

Wednesday Wisdom

Which comes first, wisdom or knowledge? Wisdom is built on knowledge. So does that mean you can be both wise and knowledgeable? Then you can’t be wise without being knowledgeable. What do you think? Is it the same as an egg before chicken or the chicken before an egg?

Knowledge is knowing about something. I have knowledge of the food in my garden and what grows on my trees. Wisdom is knowing how to apply the knowledge I have. In addition, how to use it in context. Like this old example: knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is knowing not to use it in a fruit salad. However, some people would say this is common sense.

I believe knowledge is gathered from learning and education. The more knowledge you gain about a subject area you can be identified as an expert in the area. Just because you have knowledge, it does not make you wise. When you have knowledge, you can make decisions with clarity of facts and truths.

In order for individuals to gain wisdom, it must be gathered from day-to-day experiences and is a state of being wise. Wisdom is the practical ability to make consistently good decisions in life from the individual’s knowledge and experience.

Wisdom is a virtue. Is that a true statement? Wisdom can only be acquired through experience. Anyone who is interested in trying new things, reflecting on the process, analyzing, testing your knowledge and having a growth mindset has the ability to gain wisdom. In this process one should have knowledge first in order to become wise.

How do you compare knowledge and wisdom? Do you know individuals who are wise?