Category: Solution-Focused Leadership

Heartstrings and swings!

“School shooting in Texas” is four words to stop you, frozen at the moment, and your heartstrings are pulled. The number of injuries, loss of life, the individual or individuals involved in the shooting makes no difference. It is the four words no mother, father, grandparent, or educator wants to hear ever.

Then the media storm begins. The violence at Uvalde, Texas, with the school shootings at Robb Elementary, left all of us with more questions and seeking answers. Comments, pointing fingers to blame, a retelling of stories, the first stories were incorrect; these are the correct facts, more finger-pointing and it continues with comparing to other shootings. Then here comes the solutions, the same as the previous shootings. We need gun control, armed guards in the schools, mental health, and the list continues. Please stop and pause for one moment.

All I can hear and see are children laughing in the playground. They are swinging on the swings. The girls have their hair blowing in the wind from the swings, and the boys are busy hitting balls out into the field. I see children being children. School is ending for the summer break, and children are preparing to enjoy all of the summer fun. My heart strings are pulled as I know those who have fallen to this senseless act of violence took the innocence of this sacred time and lives away. It stole the childhood innocence of many who experienced the noise of the gunshots, screams, cries, and the trauma no one can claim to understand.

Real Soultions

Stop all of these political agendas on both sides to find the real solutions to the issues at hand. So let me just go through the list of the things I believe we can review, reinforce and respond to appropriately.

  • Do we have laws in place now to accomplish gun control to meet the standards we need for safety? Can we look at these laws together? State by state and then as a country.
    • Background checks
    • Waiting periods
    • Restrictions
    • Concealed Carry
    • Transport
  • As a country, can we bring all state government leaders together to draft a common gun control law to follow with integrity, accountability, and responsibility? Laws for guns should not be vastly different from state to state, and we should have/do have a monitored system to know who is purchasing firearms. In Illinois, there is a ban on guns in Chicago, but in our state, there are more shootings in this area than in any other place. How?
  • Illegal guns are a significant issue. We must address this issue.
  • Accountability with all laws must be enforced. Crime at any level has to have responsibility. If we do not hold all offenses with the laws we have and establish a society of rule and order, violence will continue to escalate. A community with a relaxed soft view will fall.
  • Are you addressing mental health correctly? In every situation, the words of mental health flow freely from many mouths without knowing how to address the issue appropriately. It is more than throwing money at the problem, building a facility, and saying you will do x, y, and z, but you do not have the time or personnel to accomplish the goals.
    • We need more psychiatric treatment staff to include, but not limited to the following:
      • Psychiatrist
      • Individual Therapist
      • Neuropsychologist
      • Social Workers
      • Intervention counseling
      • Group Therapist
      • Family Liaisons
    • Mental Health facilities and in-house care
      • Facilities for treatment to care for individuals in a 24/7 facility with supports
      • We need to have providers within schools to support staff, families, and students in providing a complete wrap-a-round care plan to facilitate meeting all of the needs of individual children and inclusion in the support systems.
      • We need to provide training to families, staff, and community-based entities with direct interactions with the public.
      • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Is a place to begin your search for understanding mental health issues, needs, and advocacy. This is the first organization I went to as a young leader in education. The need is more significant today for understanding mental health.
    • Two Rules
      • The need for Two Rules is stronger today than when I was principal. I want to share that the children, families, staff, and community you serve want to know more than ever before that these rules are being followed and applied. “Everyone who walks through the doors of (the name of your school) will feel good about being here and feel safe.” How will we all do this together? We can choose to be part of the problem or the solution; the choice is always ours to make. However, if you choose to be part of the problem, the consequences of your choice will be fully applied.
      • Talk with everyone about what it looks like, sounds like, and feels like to be safe and to feel good in a learning environment. It takes all of us working together to create an environment of safety, feeling included and good.
      • Many tools can be used at home, school, and in the community to accomplish these goals. I have been waiting to find the right time to see if the book I have written, Two Rules, would interest others. It feels like the right time now. Too many children are being lost in our world to violence in our schools, streets, and “safe” places.
    • Secure Schools is something we have worked on with crisis plans, training, and drills. It is time to look at what we have done and remember conducting a drill one time a year does not always help when reality comes and fear-panic sets in.
      • Can we look at all of the school buildings we currently have to see if modifications can be made to prevent an intruder from getting inside? Bulletproof?
      • Reinstate school resource officers on campus. Utilize retired police officers, military personnel, or other professionals—someone with a radio to contact the police and organize when a situation occurs.
      • Building relationships in the school to know all of the individuals within the school.
      • Have an organized plan for every situation. Talk and communicate with the onsite leadership team for the crisis.
    • Leadership is critical when seeking solutions. It is not top-down, but side by side when we discover looking through the lenses to see the perspectives of others. It is always to seek to understand and hear what is not said.
      • In my very first professional development workshop as an administrator, I sat down at a table all alone. I did not know anyone, and I was one of the first to arrive. I was not confident, so I sat in the back. An older gentleman sat down at my table. He began to talk to me, and I felt relaxed. He asked, “Do you think your school is safe?” No, sir, I don’t. I do not think you should ever believe that with 100% confidence. “Great answer. The conference began. -Let me introduce you to a brave man who is coming to share his story as a building principal of a school that went through a school shooting-Principal Bill Bond of Heath High School in Paducah, KY. The man sitting next to me got up and went to the front of the room.
      • His words were powerful, and I knew this was what leadership was to me. His story about the day has many important factors to remember when working with students, staff, and the community.
      • Relationship building. We all have said it, heard it, and have it as a goal. Do we know what it truly is, looks like, sounds like, and feels like? During my time at middle school, I wrote personal postcards to all of my staff and students. I mailed it to their homes. There were 75 staff members and 602 students. They were all individualized. Yes, they compared to see if I wrote the same things on the cards. I did it over the Christmas break. We gave everyone something on their birthday, talked to everyone, and watched them in their extra-curricular activities. I did home visits and community activities and embraced everything I could to get to know every aspect of life they had.

I brushed the surface of the solutions for the violence we are seeing transpire across our country and especially targeting our schools. I want to focus on families and communities as well. This is an issue with not one solution to solve the problem. It is not to have stricter gun controls or address mental health. We have a deep system of layers to address this issue more profound than the surface solutions we often try to address quickly, so we can say we did something, move on and place it on our list of accomplishments for the following political add. No thanks. I want to drive the deep solutions to systemically solve issues to save lives, create positive environments, help families and improve communities. I can’t, you can’t, but we can together work to establish better systems, accountability of the laws, offer services, and commit to improvements overall.

Our heartstrings are pulled, and we react. Then the conversations begin to fade as fast as the seasons change. The swings at the playground echo the laughter of children who want to be kids. Can we all work together to solve these issues, so the heartstrings pulled are the ones that bring big smiles.

#SELDAY March 11, 2022

This week we celebrate School Social Workers and recognize Social Emotional Learning Day on March 11th! The theme for National School Social Workers week March 6-12 is “Time to Shine!” Our School Social Workers do amazing things to support our children, families, and staff! They genuinely shine all of the time!

Join the SEL Day for 2022 and share how to support social-emotional learning. We need to build relationships and share positive ways to appreciate everyone. We are blessed when we recognize the strengths of others and share our talents. Together so much can be learned, communicated, achieved, and created.

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.

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.

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.