Category: School Leadership 2.0

I missed the bus! Can I jump on your bandwagon?

I missed the bus is a phrase referring to being too slow to take advantage of an opportunity. In education, it was an excuse for being late to school, like the video attached to the word bus from 1992. Have you ever used that phrase?

Jumping on the bandwagon is another phrase used to join a movement or cause because it is trendy. “Everyone is doing it.” The phrase itself began back in 1848 when a circus clown named Dan Rice would use his wagon to take politicians around to conduct speeches to local people. The music coming from the wagon always attracted a crowd. Have you ever used this phrase?

These phrases may not be utilized as much today as they did in the past, but the concepts are still practiced. Leaders miss opportunities and jump on shiny new things when everyone else gets the popular item. Why do they do this? They are stretched thin and need to find quick results in a fast pace world. Many pressures are placed on our leaders to perform, meet the standards, and be better than all competitors.

As the leader of your organization, you have a great deal of responsibility. There is no more significant responsibility than taking care of those you serve. All of your team members need to know your vision, but most importantly, they need to know they can trust you. A solid foundation builds a team that knows who they are, what they are doing, and where. Our vision is our dream. What we want to achieve in the work we do is the culture created.

The culture of your environment is critical. The vision you have can be incredible, but a toxic environment can destroy it before you begin to build. Culture is how we work each day to move us forward to our vision. In our culture, this is where the actual work is done to make the vision clear for all to see.

What can you do as a leader? Let’s ask hard questions, design plans, and develop habits, processes, and purpose together. Which is more important to have a vision or a positive culture?

Vision and Culture-Both are needed

VISION

A vision is a cornerstone of the organization. It is a statement of what an organization would like to achieve in the future but is more than a goal. A vision inspires and connects employees to purpose. As leaders, we need to work together to develop a vision statement with clarity in decision making, help guide others, and make it part of our daily work. Today’s vision statements need to reflect the changes as we lead out of crisis and into the building.

CULTURE

Our culture is designed by what inspires us daily. It is our interactions together in working to achieve the vision, mission, and purpose. The core beliefs, values, and behaviors of the individuals within the organization reflect the culture. For a continuous improvement cycle to be in place, culture and vision are connected to gain purpose.

Everyone in our organization has to be all in on the vision we have and be actively participating in a positive culture to achieve the momentum needed to grow. Just like putting a puzzle together, when one piece is missing, it can not be completed. When you have one individual bringing negativity to the group and fighting against the group’s beliefs, pieces begin to pull apart.

Start your Phrase……

Jon Gordon has the Energy Bus. What can be yours? Do you need one to begin to develop what you need to lead out of a crisis and into building back the foundation for the vision and culture required to succeed? Be the Solution Daily in a world that needs you! No need for catchy phrases, just a solid foundation with core beliefs, a vision , and a design of how to get there. It is fun to think of names, phrases, and crazy ways to remember things. However, the importance of the work is what the focus needs to be on. It cannot be like it was, and we must decide what works now.

With the transitions to Covid from Covid and now additional issues facing us, we need to outline the needs in all areas to focus on our realities.

Fitting the puzzle pieces together

  • Identify all areas in your organization or company
  • What are the needs in each of these?
  • Prioritize the needs in each area.
  • Do we see common threads of need?
  • What are the top common threads?
  • Can we develop a plan to address the common threads of need?
  • How can the needs of the organization impact the service we provide?
  • Looking at the needs, how does it change, enhance or reflect our vision?

Now that we are looking at our needs, it is time to complete a deeper dive into a needs assessment. This is the best place to start when beginning to look at building a foundation for continued growth.

Just a basic format to begin to gather data on needs. Deeper dives as you go into specific areas, skills, departments, policies and procedures.

Can we work together to ask hard questions? Can we listen to all voices? I would like to have honest conversations about what we are facing. This isn’t easy because we will not all agree. Doing what is right is not what is easy; jumping on the bandwagon or missng the bus. It is in having the integrity of doing what is best for all of those involved and those we serve. Ken Blanchard, one of my favorite leaders, found that integrity is what everyone seeks out in leadership. Jon Gordon, another famous leader, has a fantastic book just released called The Sale along with his co-author Alex Demczak which is a tremendous tribute to learning about integrity. Please get your copy today. If you think you deserve to have a free copy from me, tell me what you gain from reading these blogs and how you share it with others. Please send me an email after you like the post at yohobren@gmail.com. Thanks for sharing time and space with me daily.

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.

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.

S is for

http://www.bethesolutiondaily.com

Solutions are always my focus; however, trauma and social-emotional needs became more of the center of my practice after 2010. I always focused on the needs of others, but my personal experience provided me with a more in-depth and enhanced view.

A semi-truck hit this vehicle driven by my daughter. I was sitting behind her and her two-year-old daughter at the time. My best friend was in the passenger seat. We all survived with myself receiving the most severe injuries along with my daughter.

I have always had two rules in my philosophy to school, but also two foundational learning practices are added as well. The two learning practices are social-emotional-learning and trauma-informed. Currently, we are dealing with the trauma of a global pandemic, and the effects are not touching only our students but our staff, families, and communities.

Always remember everyone has a story to tell. Build relationships so all feel safe, heard, understood and building skills to understand all of the “how-to” in relationships.

If you have ideas, thoughts, questions or need support with an issue you are facing please send me a message. My purpose is to provide support, solutions and strategies. One of the things I want people to know about me if you do not already know me is, my generosity. I give away more and more. I have always done this and I always will. Giving to others is important to me. I am working hard to create more free resources for you.

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.

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.

Time to take out the Garbage!

If you are a parent, you may have given the chore of taking out the garbage to one of your children. Maybe it is your partner’s responsibility or yours alone. No matter who is responsible, I think we can all agree it stinks!

Have you ever considered we accumulate garbage in other places? I am not referring to the piles of stuff gathered in the garage, basement, attic, or closet! I am talking about your mind. We collect lots of mental garbage gradually over time, making the most optimistic individual question. Our messy mental collection begins to clutter our minds with negative thoughts, irrational thoughts, unreasonable ideas, and unhelpful solutions. Before we know it, our minds can be compared to the landfill our regular garbage collectively goes.

How can we sort this out? Anything worth recycling? What about renewing and reuse? Our minds need to be added to our chore list before our thinking turns from healthy to sloppy! It’s time to talk to someone you can trust to recycle your thoughts into positives! I always start with God.

“Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Philippians 4:8

My daughter is an excellent special education teacher. I am her mother, so you know I will say that, but many others do as well. The parents, students, and staff she works with share the same thoughts. She, as well as many other educators, are struggling. They are not the only professional groups struggling. The jobs they do are challenging as they pour their hearts into them, but when you add all of this “drama” and divisions, it becomes more difficult. She wonders where all of this hate, division, and power control comes from that is influencing confusion daily.

It is essential to follow the science but not the scientists. Science is a foundation constant with no biases. Opinions, prejudices, and funders influence scientists.

The foundation of values, beliefs, and laws are the truths that formed our country. Many have fought, lost their lives to continue to maintain its foundation and to improve the quality for all. The Constitution of the United States provides our guidance as our foundation.

Daily we have many thoughts provided to us. We can listen to all of the opinions, ideas, and talking points. It is in our control on the action steps we take with what is presented. We do not need to spend hours thinking about them or becoming angry. Just take out the trash! Recycle those negative thoughts into positive ones. This is a healthy choice! Take one step further. Do some positive actions to help react to negative effects. We need more positives! Can we provide those who are doing all the talking with more positives to talk about? I don’t know about you, but I am tired of taking out the trash!