Category: #thinking

Lifelong Learning

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”~William Buttle Yeats

The moment you take your first breath until you take your last, I believe we are learning. The level of our learning depends on what we desire to do. The limitations to learning are the ones we place on ourselves. Others may place barriers in our way; there may be challenges we encounter and obstacles to overcome, but our desire to learn moves us forward.

Lifelong learning is more than building skills for career development; it can be for self-improvement, self-fulfillment, maintaining a healthy brain lifestyle, expanding experiences by learning new things, languages or connecting more with others in groups.

Helping to keep lifelong learning as an essential part of our lives is to be the catalyst to keep it going. As a parent, you are the center of your child’s beginning of life. You supply the ingredients needed to spark the desire to learn, try new things, and explore. This continues as children grow, but more layers of support are added to provide additional sparks to ignite interests of other critical and creative ideas. Teachers are the core to the continued growth for learning and development.

As children and teachers head back to the classrooms, we must keep in mind the importance of establishing the desire to learn daily. Not to settle for just getting by, not doing just what you need to do, but to ask questions and more questions. Critical thinking, creative thoughts, innovation, curiosity, and imagination bring many ideas to learning.

How are you stretching your mind each day? Do you have suggestions on how to engage others in learning? What will you learn today?

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!

Transforming before us

Noise

Can you hear it?

The “white noise” of the world “darkens” the “brightness” of our thoughts, deafening our ears preventing us from hearing the wisdom of our father.

Vision

Can you see it?

Our vision is “clouded” by the distortion of the images presented as we question softly with muffled replies of lies. We are transforming; we are patterns in a world being changed unrecognized by our eyes. The sounds become louder, the sights become larger, and our world became smaller as we seek less from it.

Core

Do you know it?

Do not conform to a world, but renew your mind. Morals, values, beliefs, and united together as one are what needs to be done. We live where a click of a button identifies us as a follower in the social media world, limiting the idea of leadership. Where are the leaders?

Yesterday we lived, it is gone, but lessons remain. We cannot live backward, only forward with lessons to apply. The mirror reflects an image of the one who can choose for today to stand to prepare for tomorrow. Live for today, conquer fears no matter the fractures created, focus on the future, the unfailing love for faith, family, and the country as we prevail. The choice, of course, is always yours to make; the solution daily is the one we hope you make.

The Message

U.S. Students Show no improvements in Math, Reading, Science.

When did that headline message appear? The news may not read the same, but it clearly states the facts. Our students have not and are continuing to not perform at a high level compared to other countries. You can find these headlines from 2013 to the present time.

In December, 2013, Greg Palkot reported American high school students slip in global education rankings.

“Overall, according to the U.S. Department of Education, American students rankings in math have slipped from 24th to 29th compared to the last test in 2010. In science, they’ve gone from 19th to 22nd, and from 10th to 20th in reading.” “When the last study was released, Education Secretary Duncan said it was a “wake-up call for education administrators.”

Yes, I was part of the administration during this time. As I say to my students, “You can be part of the problem or part of the solution.” I can look back at all of the efforts and things I know we worked hard to do right. I also know we could always do better. In the end, I know many schools were just like us.

Everyone focuses on the problems or “root causes” of these headlines. However, it is when we change our mindsets we can see solutions. The first thing people want to do is throw money at the problem. Money is not the issue when you look at all of the countries. We spend more per student than any other country.

Our next choice when we focus on problems is placing blame. It is poverty, diversity issues, high levels of immigration-nope the other countries have these attributes as well.

U.S. Students show no improvements in Math, Reading, Science on International Exam December 3, 2019, U.S. News by Lauren Camera The most troubling among the results was that an international performance gap in education is widening.

Washington Post also ran an article (I have provided the link to the article) written by Moriah Balingit and Andrew Van Dam

Can we stop what we are currently doing in the headlines with education? The message being sent is not the focus of what is needed for the success of our children. I have some additional headlines and things to consider for another day. As a country, what do we want for our children as they prepare for a global working world? Read about the thoughts of how U.S. students are not as engaged, motivated, or had the endurance.

What are your thoughts on education?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/us-students-continue-to-lag-behind-peers-in-east-asia-and-europe-in-reading-math-and-science-exams-show/2019/12/02/e9e3b37c-153d-11ea-9110-3b34ce1d92b1_story.html

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!

Helping others focus on solutions

Be the solution daily isn’t something I decided one day sounded good; it is a daily practice I have used professionally and personally for decades. It is my hope to help and guide others into this practice for success.

Where we place, our focus is crucial for our success. It seems we are quick to point out a problem, mistake and place blame. Have you had a finger pointed at you?

When our focus is on the problem, anger shadows the thinking. Your mind can only give it’s full attention to one thing at a time. Negative thoughts overtake you when your focus is the problem.

Solution-focused turns back control to help you positively resolve troubles. By looking for solutions in every situation, problems will disappear and happiness returns.

Now this sounds a little like one of what my granddaughter calls, “cheesy stuff.” However, when following the guidelines it really is how it works.

Helping others focus on solutions begins with mindsets. Focusing on solutions creates a very different climate and culture. The thinking, actions, and behaviors will change.

Let’s begin with these steps:

  • Problems we face are usually self-inflicted. Would you please take a deep breath and tell yourself it is my responsibility? Then you may have issues directly impacting you, and maybe you did not have anything to do with the decision-making process. *This is when you need to begin to do some examples of problem vs. solution games. (I can help provide examples)
  • What is the desired outcome? Your vision to resolve the problem? When we begin to focus in solutions, it leaves little time for negative thinking. The only thing that matters is resolving the problem.
  • Once you know the outcome-begin the planning of getting from here to there.

Solution Mindset

We begin to think of solutions first once we are aware we cannot control the actions of others, the complex data, or the current issue before us. However, the only things we control are our actions and reactions by clarification of what we face with a focus on the importance of the solution, the negative thinking about the problem stop.

Are you interested in a Two Rule School? It changes the climate, culture and focuses on student leadership. There is so much more to this concept that leads to positive results.

The Needs

When you wake up in the morning, the needs hit you right away! You have the need to get to the bathroom, find coffee, food of some kind, and find out the needs of the world around you!

If you have pets, children, spouses, or others in need of your attention, then you are already running late! It would help if you had been up hours ago, or maybe getting sleep is overrated. I was kidding!

I think you understand we live in a world where “the need” is at an all-time high. However, I believe need has been confused with some other words to make life harder for all of us.

A need is something to help provide a safe and healthy environment. We need clean air, water, land, food, clothes and safe environments in order to live. We may want to have the latest version of television, phone, gaming system, shoes from famous brands, and others wants. These wants and wishes are not essential to our health and well-being.

I, like many others, felt the loss of loved ones during the global pandemic. I did not feel the loss within my family, but distant relatives and friends. The needs of others were at an all-time high. We are so lucky to live in this country so needs could be met. Even then, it was not enough as we saw politics get in the way.

There is still a need and even bigger needs in our country. It is so important to look through all of the lenses to see the needs. When looking for solutions, you should always look at all viewpoints to fully understand.

One word echoes through clearly when we talk about addressing difficult topics…..the word is fear. Fear of the cancel culture, being labeled, having negative things said about you, and the list goes on. Well, I will tell you all of that can be true.

Assuming the responsibility of being a leader is a big job. If it were so great and easy, everyone would be one! I have been beaten up (not literally, although it felt like it) several times. Remember “the need.” Behavior is driven by need. Always start with why and what. Why are they?… What do they need?…

When you are faced with these situations it is easy to fall in line with similar behaviors of anger. Pause and remember not to take it personally (trust me, I know it is hard). There is always a reason behind the actions and reactions we take to situations we face. Everyone has a story.

I always like to reflect on words from Mother Teresa. She always provides me with the wisdom I “need.”

“See how nature-trees, flowers, grass-grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”~Mother Teresa

The world’s noise can be so loud we cannot hear the sounds of the needs calling from those so close to us. If we are quiet for a few moments, we can clearly hear the sounds coming from their hearts…the need! I hear the call, To be one nation under God. A desire to all live together in peace, harmony–equally in a safe and secure environment.

We have survived so much, won many battles, achieved so much, and have so much more to do together. Listen to the silent voices as they speak. Watch for the ways you can begin to help as you build trusting relationships. Leaders can be found in many places, not always with a title.

Collective student efficacy

In my previous post, I spoke about efficacy. I believe this is an essential part of the development of beliefs. Understanding collaboration with others supports learning from each other and building on strengths. Supporting the growth of efficacy in these manners helps to stimulate learning growth by all. The new book:

Collective Student Efficacy Developing Independent and Inter-Dependent Learners

Arm students with the confidence they need to pursue ambitious goals—together.

Collective student efficacy— students’ beliefs that by working with other people, they will learn more—can be a powerful accelerator of student learning and a precursor to future employment success.

Harnessing twenty-five years of VISIBLE LEARNING® research, Collective Student Efficacy: Developing Independent and Inter-Dependent Learners illuminates the power of collective efficacy and identifies the many ways teachers can activate collective efficacy with their students. More than cooperative and collaborative learning, collective efficacy requires the refinement of both individual and collective tasks that build on each other over time. This innovative book details how knowledge, skills, and dispositions entangle to create collective and individual beliefs, and leads educators to mobilize collective efficacy in the classroom. It includes:

The vital components and evidence-based success criteria necessary for students’ collective efficacy. The “I” and “We” skills that need to be developed to ensure students have the skills and confidence to contribute to group success. The nature of learning design, lesson planning, and classroom structures that ensure opportunities for all students to engage in collective efficacy. The necessity for constructive alignment between learning intentions, tasks, success criteria, and assessments”Learning from a Distance” actions to facilitate building skills in remote learning environments
The time is now to prepare students to meet the demands of the future. Through collective student efficacy, students will learn to become actionable agents of learning and change.

This information comes from the Corwin website, where you can purchase the book to learn more. Building efficacy is essential at all levels.

Consider your goals and needs of your organization to plan appropriately.

Reimagine? Imagine? What do these words mean?

As a leader, I heard the use of the word “reimage” by our technology department. They used this to describe their summer work. Each computer in our district would be “reimaged” with new software, updates, and clean-up to be ready for the new school year. So is this what people are talking about when they say they want to “reimagine” something?

I do not think we can “reimagine” without first “imagine.” Imagination is the beginning. When we “imagine,” we form a mental image of something or believe the unreal is authentic, like a ghost. My favorite is Casper, but the rest of my family enjoys all of that scary stuff!

Can you imagine? This phrase expresses a surprise or poses a question in a song to stretch your thinking in questioning what you believe. John Lennon is legendary for Imagine!

I can only imagine. What does this mean, besides one of my favorite songs by Mercy Me? It seems to be the lesson I am learning is imagination is the most important in creative thinking and spiritual hope.

Imagination is where creativity lives. Individuals who can imagine can create worlds for others to escape to as they work their wonders. Walt Disney World is my favorite example. Did you know employees are called “Imagineers”? These are the illustrators, architects, engineers, lighting designers, show writers, and graphics designers. These individuals create, work, and others help with construction and more work to make the magic. There is physical work to making imagination come true.

So to “reimagine” something, you have to imagine first. When you imagine, it does not become absolute until someone makes it, does the work, creates it, and it becomes something. None of this tells us if it is good, bad, better, horrible, or excellent. We just imagined it.

All of this talk can be so confusing for everyone trying to follow this jargon. Dressing language up to be something different does not make it different when the foundation is needed to begin.

Today I will imagine all of those who read my posts will help me in being the solution daily as we “reimagine” a world where we live together as one. Let’s work to make it happen!