Category: professional development

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.

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.

Turning Gears into Action

One of my first posts was about gears. I made this reference as it was part of the original writing in my book. I did not know everything I needed to know about publishing a book. So even though my gears were turning, I did not have all of the ones I needed to move forward successfully. A rewrite was done, and it will be coming out soon I hope.

The goal I have is to help other leaders in their journeys of success. I will share all of my information, ideas, practices, actions, and everything I have with those who want to continue to be the solution daily for those they serve. Today I want to revisit the thought of gears as you begin to develop an action plan to address your planned improvements.

I utilized my conversations with my husband to talk about the motors he worked on for companies and local farmers, as they compare to the work in education. The importance of these motors for the work being done is critical to the whole process. If one gear is not working, damage can happen, and work is stopped. A farmers’ work depends on the weather conditions; it is critical to get back to work when the weather is good. In education, we weather all of the storms that come our way.

In our educational system, we have gears as well that are critical to the work we do. I divided the gears into the following:

  • Leadership
  • Instruction
  • Curriculum
  • Assessments
  • Professional Learning/Collaboration
  • Culture/Climate
  • Communication
  • Community/Partnerships
  • Systems/Program Evaluation

Gears are connected to a shaft. This cylinder shaped piece of rotating machine element, is used to transmit power from one part to another, or from a machine which produces power to a machine which absorbs power. Compare this to your organization.

Gears are the identified areas of focus. Our focused areas are those in need of attention to produce the successful energy we need. Often my husband has spent time completing a rewind of motors because they have burnt up and need an overhaul. Sometimes they are beyond repair and are scrapped out. New motors are purchased if it is cheaper to do this than to fix the motor.

In education, it seems at times we have situations or things that are beyond repair. However, we cannot scrap them out and purchase new things. We have to make adjustments to try to make it work. I can think of textbooks, programs and curriculum. We spend a great deal of money, time, and energy in the selection of these materials. Our budgets do not allow us to throw things out. However, when new shiny things are the buzz, we through out and turn our attention to the new. Examples could be: Whole Language, Touch Math, Cursive Writing, Phonics, Sight Words and more.

We intend that we will produce enough energy our students will absorb the learning. However, it is not the energy from the materials and tools but those teaching our students producing the energy. It is when our students are engaged and have ownership in their learning the energy sparks.

The shaft is our mission as a foundation. It is what we are doing defined by our vision. Our vision is inspirational and connects emotionally with what we do. A well-oiled, lubricated, or greased machine keeps it turning. This is our values and beliefs. Working together and turning in the right direction is fueled by families, communities, and stakeholders. We have focused leaders, collaborating staff, engaged families, supportive community, and stakeholders, producing achieving students as outcomes are the results.

As you begin your work, identify your focus areas. Which gears do you have in your plan? What do you think at first glance needs your attention first? Be careful not to burn out all of your bags and destroy your shaft. Some things are not repairable, and we do not have enough time to repair them all. We cannot afford to throw anything out.

Counting on you to be the solution for those you serve today as they will serve tomorrow!

My way, Your way, Our way….

I grew up really as an only child. My brother and sister are 16 and 17 years older than me, respectively. I have always said I was a gift from God to make sure someone could help this family.

My siblings, especially my sister, did lots of things with me. I think I was like a doll. The best adventure I can recall was going to see Elvis Presley in concert. I loved his music, but I was more fascinated by the way grown women were acting. So exciting to watch! He did it his way!

Watching my grandchildren play, I learned a great lesson. They span in age from three years, six years, and 13 years old. The two younger boys play together and are not always easy to handle. Their sister is quick to help settle disputes and monitor the playtime.

While vacationing at the beach, everyone found their place. Each one has a special interest in what they wanted to do. There were enough adults that each child had one to help them in whatever they wanted to do.

When they decided to play together after having their time, the conversations were so interesting.

“Hey, look, I found a purple-colored shell. Would you want it?”

“Yes, thanks!”

“Do you want me to help you find more shells?”

Fantastic how they were working together to collect shells. Now it lasted a short time as you know, attention spans do not last long and brothers, well are boys.

We took the shells back to the house to sort, identify and talk about them. We like to do art projects and make things; this is what they do with me. They each had a container to place their shells in, and all was good.

How does your team work together on projects? As a leader, do you begin with your way of approaching the task or situation? Are there opportunities to identify and sort out target points? Can individuals discuss freely and offer ideas?

In dealing with finding solutions, it is essential to have all voices heard and illustrate possible solutions. People need to see, hear, talk, and sometimes “touch”(move items) to understand the process.

If the solution is “my way,” the problem will stay. It stays because, most likely, I am the only one who believes in the solution. The same is true if the solution is “your way,” which most likely comes from the loudest one. It should be “our way,” providing ownership from all.

Think about the structures of your problem-solving teams. How do you handle issues that come up? Do you have a process to follow? Who is involved in making decisions and finding solutions?

Thank you for being the solution daily! It takes each of us working together focused on solutions.

ABC’s to Leadership

LEADERSHIP

Writing each day is a blessing for me. I enjoy each day in finding ways to spark a fire of excitement, light a lesson of inspiration, shine enthusiasm on kindness, plant a seed of hope, and turn a problem into a solution one post at a time.

Leadership is daily, 365 days a year, and even 24 hours a day. We have thoughts, ideas, visions, dreams, and hopes throughout the day. No one sets out to be “the leader,” and many will tell you this if you ask. It just happens as they work, and a passion builds inside that can be explained by my ABCs.

  • Authentic learning, leading, and listening.
  • Building relationships daily.
  • Communicating and connecting first before correcting.
  • Daily inspiration for all, lifting spirits each day.
  • Encouraging others and engaging as we work.
  • Fueling others with energy for success. (maybe chocolate and lots of snacks! I find these to work best!)
  • Gardening throughout the day, planting seeds for growth, and maybe pulling a few weeds.
  • Heart full of kindness, celebrating birthdays and good deeds. (Always keep cards of all kinds and small gifts in case you need them.)
  • Inviting feedback and questions.
  • Joining in collaboration, diversity, and teams.
  • Keeping an open mind.
  • Leading by example. (Model for others what you expect to see.)
  • Motivating others. (It is the small things you do that count.)
  • Never giving up, especially on you! (Special dedication to one of my students who thanked me for not giving up on him. He was shot and killed at the age of 19.)
  • Open door policies!
  • Praise for jobs well done!
  • Quick to put others first, especially kids.
  • Recognizing problems, focusing on solutions.
  • Shared leadership, roles, and responsibilities. (Teach everyone how to do your job, you never know when you will not be there!) -Thanks Robin
  • Time to listen, learn and explain.
  • Understanding (Everything!)
  • Validation! Others, feelings, viewpoints- You do not have to agree but validate them.
  • Welcoming environment, friendly, safe, opinions can be shared.
  • Xceed expectations when limits are placed on you and expectations are low.
  • Your purpose-the why you do what you do!
  • Zest to be the best!

Let’s Continue to learn!

We have many opportunities to learn daily. As educators, professional learning expectations are tied to specific mandates of topics to be covered and a required amount each year to maintain your certification. However, this is not all we need as we desire to be the best we can be for those we serve.

The article, Taking Control of Your Professional Growth written by Lauren Kaufman, Stephanie Rothstein https://www.edutopia.org/article/taking-control-your-professional-growth. Provides an excellent plan to help with your ownership of professional learning. There are many free resources available, books, podcasts, and individuals who share your passion.

Reach out to others as you strive to find solutions to questions, issues, and problems you want to address. Together we can be the solution daily for those we serve.

Thank you for being the solution daily! Always share out with others and add to the list of great resources to help.

Roll out the red carpet!

It is time for some new headlines! What is the message you want to send? Roll out the red carpet and make your own stars! Put up pictures of your staff, students, or whatever you want to highlight.

Just ask me, and I can help you put some joy, laughter, motivation, feeling safe, and so much more. We are all here to help each other!

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?

Capturing your leadership philosophy

“Gretchen Oltman, J.D., Ph.D. has spent over a decade in education, including many years as a high school English teacher. She is a licensed attorney in the state of Nebraska and holds a Ph.D. in Educational Studies from the University of Nebraska.” What is Your Leadership Story? A School Leader’s Guide to Aligning How You Lead with Who You Are. Oltman will be presenting at ASCD’s Annual Conference, happening this week, June 23-25, 2021. 

The following link captures a question and answers session with Gretchen Oltman to provide more depth to your leadership by guiding you in reflecting and identifying why you lead the way you do.

You can be more than your title! Tell your authentic leadership story and develop your personal leadership philosophy. Great read and book to consider!

When you can authentically tell your story, your school community will know you, what you value, and why you make decisions the way you do. You will rediscover a sense of purpose, renewal, and inspiration that may have slipped away amid the chaos of life—and you can build a stronger connection with those you lead and work beside.

https://inservice.ascd.org/qa-gretchen-oltman-on-capturing-your-leadership-philosophy/