Category: School Leadership 2.0

Make it work!

Today is Monday so what do you do?

Life is changing and time is speeding up.

If you don’t get going, this day will turn into Tuesday!

Each day is a gift we unwrap each day.

This is a statement I always make.

It is what we do with the minutes that turn to hours, hours to days and days to a new week! Oh my!

All of those add up to help describe and define…..

“Make it work!” what a great line! But what does it mean? If the shoe fits, wear it? Another phrase used. Well, if the shoe does not fit, are you suppose to make it work? Could we say instead, “Make it work better!” Maybe we could change it to, “Make it count!”

I don’t know about you, but wearing shoes that do not fit is horrible, and I do not want to do that at all. I also do not want to, “Make it Work!” I believe we can come up with a better way to greet our Monday!

When I first joined education as a teaching assistant in the 90’s, I would greet everyone with: “Good morning, Welcome to Pine Crest Elementary.” I would get laughs, smiles, and giggles. What a great way to start any day! Monday seems to get the moans, groans, and ugh sounds. It is time to change Mondays into more! What if we started with:

“Let’s work better together as we make it count every day!” The choices we make today impact the lives of tomorrow and build the foundation for the future. Thank you for being the solution daily!

Time matters..Wednesday Wisdom

Below is a great article to read as you think about solutions for your schools moving forward. Often in school improvement efforts, the time has been a talking point and added to programs with promises of improvements.

Time is a very fragile element we have limited control over. Additional time is not the solution alone. Please read the article and see if you come to the same conclusion. What solutions do you have for getting education back on track for students?

How You Use Time Matters More Than How Much You Have

How You Use Time Matters More Than How Much You Have

Clocks

Recent data on slowed learning growth and increased percentages of failures during the pandemic has schools across the country searching for ways to increase time. The theory of action is that if students have more time to receive instruction, they can make up learning growth and get back on track.

At first glance, this theory seems to make sense. After all, learning takes time, so more time must be the answer. However, an experiment tried by Washington D.C. schools presents a cautionary example of why such an approach may fall short.

A few years ago, D.C. Public Schools added twenty days to the school calendar on 13 of its lowest performing campuses. The increase meant that over the course of time these students spent in school up until eighth grade, they would add the equivalent of an additional year. The idea was simple. They expected that students in these struggling schools would benefit from having more time to learn. Test scores would improve, and the schools would become more successful. After three years the school district collected performance data for each school and discovered there was little evidence of any academic improvement. Attendance rates remained low, and reports of teacher burnout grew (Stein, 2019).

The fundamental flaw in the theory of action was assuming that just adding time would result in more learning. We cannot assume that doing more of what is not already working will somehow make it work better.

There was no evidence that the students involved were incapable of learning. Nor was there evidence that the teachers were incapable of or not committed to teaching. The problem was not the people.

This is not an argument that time doesn’t matter. However, adding time without changing instructional strategies and learner experiences offers little promise of improvement. As we think about efforts and initiatives to help students get back on track, we would do well to ask how the time that is available can be used to address the reasons for slippage in the pace of learning. We need to focus on how we might engage students in ways that lead to acceleration and recovery. Here are some ideas to consider.

We can start by reestablishing and reinforcing our relationships with students. This year has been one of isolation and loneliness for many students. Try as we might, we have not always been able to maintain strong, positive, influential relationships with many of our students, nor have they always been able to maintain relationships with each other. Now is a good time to refocus on relationships.

We can design learning experiences and opportunities that learners find attractive and engaging. Most educators and students are exhausted, especially with the often awkward and inefficient teaching and learning context we have experienced. What students find interesting and worth doing can be a good place to begin. Community-based experiences, gamification of content, and project and problem-based activities can offer the connections students find worthwhile, while also learning academic content.

In areas of learning where students need to fill skill and knowledge gaps, we can focus on essentials. We can design experiences that are focused and efficient while looking for hooks and pulls to engage students. Resorting to instructional strategies and structures that did not work the first time hold little promise of producing different outcomes now.

As much as practical, we can cluster students with classmates who are friends and acquaintances they may have missed if they spent the past year in remote instruction. Recreating familiar learning groups and clusters can reduce awkwardness and increase social support. We can also employ social learning strategies such as having students work in pairs, groups, and teams as they learn.

Of course, we need to begin learning and instructional activities in response to learner readiness. We do little to stimulate and build learning confidence and skills when we ask students to learn what they are not ready to learn or lack adequate background knowledge and skills in to be successful.

Stein, P. (2019, February 21) District eliminates extended school year, invests more in classroom technology. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/district-eliminates-extended-school-year-invests-more-in-classroom-technology/2019/02/21/e9478500-3484-11e9-a400-e481bf264fdc_story.html

Thoughts?

Education for many students wrapped up for the 20-21 school year. My parents pushed me to get an education as they were not able to receive it. What do you think? Is education the way to change the world?

What does this statement mean?

Do you agree with this statement? Is this how we are currently moving our educational system to meet the needs of our students?

Today’s posts are thoughts to ponder and to share. I believe children deserve the best we have to prepare for the future. They need opportunities to think critically, be innovative; opportunities to lead, and be exposed to high expectations with curriculum to meet these needs.

Education is an essential part of our society. Many changes have occurred and are proposed. It is important to know what is happening and voice your opinion. Be the solution today for the future of children everywhere.

Why? This is a question I ask daily

I keep myself sheltered as much as possible from daily negativity. It is never good for anyone’s health to keep negative influences in your life daily. However, it would help if you kept yourself informed of current events to support others and yourself.

Statistics of the number of violent incidents, shootings, and crimes are on the rise. It is a regular news item that people become used to, I think; why?

“Deadliest weekend of the year in Chicago: 12 killed, 42 wounded in shootings”-Sun-Times, Chicago. May 24, 2021

“6-Year-Old Costa Mesa Boy Dies In Road Rage Shooting On 55 Freeway In City Of Orange” -CBSLN May 21,2021

“4-Year-Old Boy Found Dead on Dallas Street Was Sleeping When He Was Stolen Out of His Crib, Affidavit Says”-Inside Edition May 19,2021

I took just a few headlines from the news that stopped me. I froze when reported. No words could come to add anything to these incidents.

My solution for these continued acts of violence on our communities across our nation is this:

  • Start with the question, why? It is not because we have guns. Discuss why someone would want to cause harm or kill another person.
  • Why are people angry? In your discussions, ask this question. Think about how we got to the point of so much anger. It is not because of races, places, spaces or faces. It is about human relations! When we teach division, we get division. We have worked hard on bringing people together, and now we are pushing them apart.
  • Where do people belong in your community? Do you know the people in your neighborhood? What do they need to lift themselves up? We do not need to be enablers but teachers. “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed himfor a lifetime.”
  • In the home is where we can help. Families today have a great deal on their plates. Find ways not to judge, not to be enabling but supportive. Discover what is needed a help them establish these needs.

Action Steps

  • Mental health services available in the community: make these part of your organization’s space, promote a partnership, place positive messages that it is okay!
  • Stop dividing people! No more talk about race, gender, or who you are as an individual to divide us. We will not keep making individuals feel like there is something wrong with them based on their skin color, gender, or who they are. It is the content of their character that defines them. The story written on their heart they portray to the world is “who they are.” I will not spend my life being a color but an individual focused on solutions for all human races.
  • “Won’t you be my neighbor” comes from a time when TV provided children with a daily dose of how to deal with society changes? Currently, there are not many opportunities for children to receive this messaging. As a community, establish a community group. Work as a group to determine needs. What can you do together to support each other?
  • As an organization, establish a community group. Invite businesses, community organizations, police departments, schools, and neighborhood groups together.
  • Generate a list of community needs.
  • Establish committees
  • Action plans/timelines
  • Necessary to keep this statement fresh in front of all members: Families love their children and are doing a great job with all they have to care for them. It is up to us to help lift them up to continue to serve with more. We are not enablers but providers of additional tools.

I am happy to help anyone with tackling this with your organization or school. We all have to make this a priority in order to move forward together in healing a nation from a pandemic with aftershocks. Be the solution daily for a brighter tomorrow.

Life is short….but the week seems long

As the sun rises and shines brightly to wake us to a new day or as we reach to hit the snooze button on the alarm clock, it is Monday! A workweek begins as the weekend is behind us now!

Where does the time go? Just like that, Friday turns to Monday. We get 168 hours every week. For most of us, we spend 40 hours of that time at work. So what do we do with the rest of the time? How much is spent watching TV? How much time do you spend on your phone, computer, or any other devices?

Take a look this week at the time you spend on activities. How do you want to improve? Make this Monday a day where you decide to invest your time wisely. You can track your screen time, maintain a calendar to highlight how you are spending time. Do you want to have more personal contact with others? Make a goal and track it.

Time is a gift with no return. Once the minute has passed, we can not get it back. No one can give you more time, but people can share time. Could you make the most of the time we have? It seems we are creating problems with no solutions, fighting about so much, and forgetting about gratitude. We have so much we can do with our time. Being the solution daily with a positive focus of hope, love, and gratitude seems to work the best for me.

Inner Questions for Outer Actions

As you sit quietly flipping through emails, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sources, you are searching for just the right one to answer a question, provide an idea, or spark your curiosity. We seek information to help us and not to harm us. We do not want or need information that will continue to push us down but lift us.

We need to stay informed and current with the news events, but negativity constantly equals negative results. A change in your surrounding and mindset will help to change this cycle.

I am a fan of the writing of Cleo Wade and in her latest book, Where to Begin is a great place to start! I want to share one of her poems titled only once. The poem reminds us that “everything is a habit” and to look at those we have. She lists out these habits for us to review like these:

  • Fear
  • Bravery
  • Loving good
  • Loving badly
  • Speaking up
  • Staying silent
  • Giving
  • Taking
  • Opening up
  • Shutting down
  • Gratitude
  • Ingratitude
  • Building
  • Destroying
  • Doing things kindly
  • Doing things unkindly

“Which of these habits are worthy? Of this life, you will most definitely get to live only once.”

If you are familiar with me, you know I believe every day is a gift we unwrap. It is full of opportunities! We can choose to be part of the problem or the solution; the choice is always ours to make. I have made these statements for decades as children crossed my path. We are blessed to live in a country where we have many free rights because of those in our past who choose to find solutions we benefit from today.

As you think about habits, choices, solutions, history, today, and the future, how do you see/feel/think about these things?

  • What is your responsibility to yourself? Do you stay silent, or do you speak up? Why?
  • What is your responsibility to others? Are you helping to build up in your community? Do you put others down?

Do you know what you stand for? What values do you have? Do you follow the leader or are you the leader?

There are more questions to ask, but this is a great place to begin. Understanding who you are, your values, and how you model for your community. It has never been easy to stand up for what you believe, but in the environment of today, it seems to be very difficult. We need to agree to disagree, have different viewpoints without feeling like an outcast, debate issues, not people, and learn to listen with open minds.

Emerging Stronger!

When we face challenges, we can find the leadership, skills, discipline, and resilience needed to overcome them. As we glance back at the past, we can see the many issues tugging at our hearts. Then we can feel the pains in our bodies from the battles we have endured. Finally, a light shines through as smiles begin to show through from the masks once hidden from view.

It has been a tough time. It continues to be a struggle, especially for our children. Each day brings us one day closer to solutions.

There is one thing I am optimistic about today. We can emerge stronger if we are wise in our planning. Many people count on your leadership! What we need to remember is not everyone is ready to move full steam ahead. In our plans, we have to make room for the social and emotional part.

During this time, many lost loved ones, dealt with illness themselves, or faced fears at levels we may not understand. What we do understand is the process through which individuals effectively apply knowledge, skills, attitudes, emotions, and empathy is through social-emotional learning. Along with this is maintaining positive relationships and decisions. We can begin with setting positive goals to achieve.

Keep in mind staff can experience secondary traumatic stress (STS). Depending on the type of organization or business you have, staff members can receive daily stress. Staff in school settings are definitely at risk of experiencing STS as children share in many different ways when they have stories to tell.

Solution Steps

  • Provide staff with opportunities to discuss
  • Have outlets for stress relief
  • Have fun
  • Talk about ways to manage emotions and stress
  • Provide opportunities for training on social-emotional, trauma, mental health, and overall self-care
  • Model how to support each other
  • Set up checkups with staff. Check in on them as much as you can

Thank you for being part of the solution daily.

Fundamental Friday

In our lives we have fundamental things, activities and principles that are important to us. We can believe strongly in some as an essential part of who we are or part of our purpose of being.

People seeking meaning beyond themselves seem to be happier, healthier, and live longer. I have no data to confirm that statement, only my observations. I like to think of myself in the category of seeking meaning beyond myself and in service to others. I am happy; I have had some health issues, but I am in remission, which has been a big positive. I have also had some near misses to death resulting in living longer. According to my formula, it works!

The fundamental definition is – serving as a basis supporting existence or determining essential structure or function. Looking at the four pillars of the fundamental parts to our life is : Happiness, Self-Care, Relationships and Health

Take out a calculator and do this quick math calculation. This is “life math.” -Guide to Unlocking the Power of Purpose by Richard Leider

  • Multiply your age x365__________.
  • Then, subtract that number from 30,000, an average life expectancy.
  • Divide that number by 365_______
  • Now you are clear that you have _____more years to live. What will you do?

I know you have heard me say before, but I will repeat it: “Every day is a gift full of opportunities to unwrap.” I repeat phrases and words a great deal. I believe it is important in order to help reinforce the ideas to those you are serving, coaching and modeling for each day. My staff called them “Yohoisims.”

  • “Make it a great day or not the choice is yours to make”
  • “It is what it is, so it will be”
  • “We don’t know what we don’t know, do we”
  • “You have one foot on the outside and mine on your backside if you do not make some positive changes.”
  • “Do you know why you are tired? You bark all day.”
  • Many others to share but enough of the Yoho for today.

Look at your four fundamental areas and decide what improvements you can make. The following years of your life should fundamentally be full of “FUN” “DAily”/ “MENTAL” “Learning”/ “Yourself”-focusing on happiness, self-care, relationships, and health.