Category: Principals and Teachers Network

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?

Measuring Meaningfulness

I constantly measure the meaningfulness of the messages I send, the information I share, and how I impact those who choose to read my posts. I intend to always help with driving solution-focused thinking and increasing the positives we share in day-to-day interactions.

One thing missing is an opportunity for others to share what they would like me to focus on to help them in what they are doing. I want to pause and organize this blog to work for those who need it to work for them. My idea is to dedicate each day to a particular topic. Examples could be: Monday: Motivation, Inspiration, Meetings Tuesday: Teaching, Thoughts, Talking Points, Communication Wednesday: Wisdom, Wit, Things to Ponder Thursday: Takeaways, Things to Share, Activities for team building Friday: Facts, Factors, Leadership Saturday: Solutions, Strategies, Plans. Sunday: Spiritual, Social-Emotional, Mental Health

Maybe you don’t want to read something daily. What if you wanted something in one post? If this is your desire, what day would you choose to receive it, and what do you need the content to include?

Be the solution daily is for you. I want to thank all of my followers and those who have invested their time. Starting today, I will take a two-week break while I gather information on the direction of this blog.

Keep being the solution daily for all as we serve others in making the world better one day at a time.

October is a time to celebrate!

I believe you can always find something to celebrate! Many people will say holidays were created so people in the card business could sell more cards. Sounds like a great business plan. However, I don’t think that is a factual statement. A fact check opportunity for someone.

October marks the start of fall for me, harvest time for farmers, and the best one of all….National Principal Appreciation Month! I love celebrating Principals! It was the best job I ever had!

What do Principals do? What have you seen them do? Do you know a Principal? Can you remember your Principal?

“What time is it?”

“It is 4:30.”

“In the morning?”

“Yes, I need to get in early so I can get to the bus garage. I am going to ride a bus today because it has been having some issues.”

“Do you need some help in here serving lunch today?”

“You are the Principal you do not have time to help in here.”

“We are short in the kitchen, and kids need to eat, so I believe we are a team. So could you put me in coach?”

“I forgot my book bag at home.”

“Do you need things in it, or do I have stuff in my office you can use today?”

“I need my homework, uniform and my permission slip for the field trip.”

“Okay, let’s call to see if I can run you home to get it.”

“I do not want to live anymore without my brother.”

“I know how hard all of the last few weeks have been. My husband has lost both brothers, but he was not in middle school or a twin. I can not promise you it will be easy, but I can tell you how many supports will be here for you. Can we start with one day and then another? Can I help get supports in place?”

Principals make sure teachers are ready to teach, have what they need, check on the safety of the building. This is not a job but a calling of service. Every minute of the day is filled with meeting the needs of those they serve. It does not stop when the school bell rings to end the day; in fact, it continues in ways they are happy to share, and in other moments they feel the most profound heartbreak.

I celebrate this month the expectancy of a baby girl with two of my former students as they invite me to the celebration. Then I find myself joining in the mourning of the loss of a former student whose death is unresolved. Would you please pray for the family of Jelani Day and the help to resolve #JusticeforJelaniDay?

If you have an opportunity, thank a Principal serving today, as they are balancing more than ever. All educators are doing so much during this time to help the leaders for the future.

Let’s take a StoryWalk

Teachers, if you do not know about StoryWalks, please take a look at the following article! I love it! As a 5th grade teacher, we did many different things to engage readers, but this is the best idea ever!

I can see how you can utilize this as a fun family night activity! So many things you can do. The author of the attached article “walks” you through creating, selecting, and organizing a StoryWalk. I can see the creation of mystery walks during fall. We can make a fun StoryWalk about our school, community, or state. How about science? A StoryWalk through a human cell?

I have worked with some very creative teachers and administrators who could, I know, do amazing things with StoryWalks. If you do one, please, please share with me. I would love it! Happy to share with others and brag on you! This seems so incredible to me.

I am looking forward to seeing your StoryWalks! If I can help you with ideas, send me an email at Yohobren@gmail.com.

https://www.edutopia.org/article/fun-way-engage-students-minds-and-bodies-books

Ambition

Ambition is the germ from which all growth of nobleness proceeds.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher

Cultivating Healthy Ambition

Ambition is an essential element to an organization and individual. Ambition begins with understanding the desires, aspirations, and goals you have for yourself and your team. What exactly are your desired outcomes for yourself and those of your team?

Knowing and understanding how far to reach is key to harnessing healthy ambition. Setting goals that require just the right level of difficulty push and struggle helps ensure to reach beyond your current abilities. Suppose the challenge is too great; a risk of giving up or becoming discouraged when target goals fall short happens. If the challenge isn’t significant enough, a risk of disconnecting, not being engaged, and never reaching the levels of total performance is accomplished.

I worked with a young ambitious leader who was very talented. His desire to accomplish was greater than the skill levels of himself and his team. They pushed full steam ahead, but lacked the ability to sustain all of the components of their plans. Piles of data was collected, but being able to utilize it wisely with a targeted purpose was missing. They could accomplish some small wins, but the frustration levels grew with trying to maintain the action plans. Creating the action plans was difficult to establish because the data seemed to become outdated by the time they reviewed it together. It became overwhelming with the stacks of data collected.

There is more to accomplish than performance with ambition. We need to think about growth, achievement, sustainable and solution-focused ambitions. Each of these requires more in-depth conversations we can continue in future blog posts. We need a balance for ambition to find the formula for success. In the meantime, ponder these questions with your purpose of performance:

Questions for Focus

  • What are our current performance goals?
  • What goals can you reach with your efforts?
  • What goals can you help guide your team in accomplishing?
  • How can the efforts of “all” work together to accomplish the goals?
  • Do the goals need to be prioritized?
  • Have you assigned timelines, responsibilities, tasks, or other ways to accomplish them?
  • What do I wish was different today?
  • What frustrates me the most?
  • Have I asked the team any of these questions?
  • Do I listen to the team, data and information?

When we work only on performance ambition, our teams may look to us in different ways. If our goals seem unattainable, they will look at us as being “unrealistic.” Maybe you have set too many or too high of goals. The team believes you are setting them up for failure.

What if you do not take any risks and have too few of goals? The team thinks you do not believe in them, you are not a risk-taker and you have low expectations.

We do not want to lose our sense of purpose. Our team must believe in the goals, values, and beliefs we establish. It is essential to keep a check on the level of ambition we have and to maintain high sustainable energy to develop the accomplishments we want to achieve.

Hook, line and sinker

Do not spread false reports. Exodus 23:1

The coach spots a little boy in the stands with a glove waiting to catch a baseball. The coach decides he will toss a ball to the little boy. Then suddenly, a man swoops in and catches the ball. Cameras snap the picture; video cameras record the moment, and the story goes viral.

Everyone could not believe what this man did to get this ball. He took a baseball meant for a little ball for himself. The pictures and video were shared with comments about this man. How could he take this ball away from this little boy?

As these video clips were shared, no one ever thought to ensure all the information was factual. Everyone could see he jumped in front of the boy and caught the ball. Case closed!

Except viewers watching the clip and the live scene didn’t know the whole story. Earlier in the game, the man had helped the young boy snag a foul ball. They agreed to share any additional balls that would come their way. Unfortunately for the man, it took twenty-four hours before the actual story emerged. The media mob and citizens had already done their damage, demonizing an innocent man.

The world we live in today deals with fragments of information and twists it to meet the narrative they try to push. Facts seem to be few and far between as you try to listen to any media source. The baseball story is factual from 2018 a Chicago Cubs game. This is one example of thousands; I am sure of people who have been judged with fragments of information.

Hook, line, and sinker, we take fragments of information as the whole truth. The evidence is clear before us daily. We must do everything possible to confirm the truth before leveling accusations and going along with the beliefs. We need complete facts making sure not to participate in lies. We should be cautious whenever passions ignite and waves of judgment swell. We want to safeguard ourselves from “following the crowd in doing wrong” In this “gotcha” “cancel culture” time, we see more and more divisions than unity.

Please take the time to look at the bait on the “hook.” Is it fragments or complete? Use the “line” to trace the sources of the story and research the evidence. Is this a “sinker” to bring down someone or everyone? Don’t just swallow it hook, line and sinker! We have ways to help us rise above together, to overcome any hardships, and to float to the top! Be the solution daily in an ocean full of sinkers! Rise up!

Not me, not today, maybe tomorrow

Have you ever questioned if you should, could, or would? Is there a voice that tells you not today, maybe tomorrow, but when it becomes tomorrow, you start over?

If this sounds like you, you are not alone! How do you overcome this negative talk? One day, each moment and every second of the day by saying: I can, I will, I am going to work each day to get closer to my goals and to make a positive impact. We do not have to invent the next big device, create the best masterpiece or become famous for a great speech. It is in the day to day actions we take to improve the lives of those around us and others in the world we share.

It seems sometimes we place a great deal of pressure on ourselves to measure our accomplishments, wealth, social media “likes,” “followers,” or “shares.” We also look at what we have or don’t have.

If we do this as adults, think about the pressure children experience with all of the sources they have to ensure they get the approval rating they seek. When does the negative talk start?

How can we dial down these sources of frustration? What are other sources? These sources contribute to our negative self-talk. What can leaders do to increase positive sources of impact on lives daily?

  • Know the individuals who work with you. Greet them by name each day.
  • When an individual is absent and they return say, “I am glad to see you today; we missed you.” If you know why they were gone, be careful not to make a public statement as they may not want others to know.
  • Provide positive praise when achieved, do not fake anything.
  • Ask how you can help.

It is not easy to escape situations that can impact our lives negatively, but with knowledge of how to manage these situations, we can prevent the impact on our lives. We need to start teaching these strategies early in life as we know technology is introduced to our children at an early age and as the sources increase, the possibility of negatives can occur.

It is you, yes today and tomorrow, to help yourself and others bring positives each day to drown out the negatives!