Tag: #culture

March into Monday with purpose!

March right into a month of opportunities as we kick off the first week in March with Read Across America! Tomorrow we will celebrate the birthday of Dr. Suess! To find out more ways to support reading in your schools, communities and homes go to https://www.nea.org/professional-excellence/student-engagement/read-across-america

Unlock the door to reading, the key to everywhere!

I love reading! My grandchildren will tell you it is my favorite thing to do and I enjoy reading with them. We have a space created in our home for play, but most importantly plenty of spots filled with books. They have a special carpeted spot on our landing with pillows, crates of books and a big window to look out to enjoy birds, rabbits, deer and any other wildlife that choose to visit.

I have my favorite books to share with them, and they enjoy my stories to go along with why they are special to me. One is The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson. I share my friendship with my friend Tammy growing up and how she took such great care of me. It is my opportunity to talk to them about friendship, relationships and how to care for everyone.

As you look at each day, know they mean something in history, culture and to individuals. Maybe it is a celebration of a birth, wedding, graduation or accomplishment. However, it can also be an anniversary of a loss, a rejection, a reminder of something traumatic and sadness. It is up to each of us to learn about those untold stories as a way to support not by asking, reminding, but by showing up and listening.

Social-Emotional Learning, Mental Health, Self-Care are essential to all. Learn how to support, teach, practice and communicate ways to share helpful information to others.

Thank you for #Bethesolutiondaily

March 26th is Social-Emotional Learning Day; find out more information at https://selday.org

Please Love’em ❤️

Friday’s always remind me of family and friends. As an administrator, I took this night to have as our night together. We had pizza or went out to dinner, and when my daughter was cheering, we took in whatever game she was at to enjoy.

I just finished reading the book Love’em or Lose’em Getting Good People to Stay by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. I highly recommend this book to everyone working with individuals!

As I was reading, I did a great deal of reflecting as an employee at different stages in my career and as a leader. I never really liked to refer to myself as the “boss” because I felt like we all worked as a team, but if there was a mistake, I wanted to be the one to take responsibility.

In the book, you will find 26 chapters which matches the 26 engagement strategies for busy managers. I love how the book is set up in the contents. It allows you to have a quick reference of the topic of the chapter, meaning and reflective questioning. Perfect for the readers to prepare for reading for more than content, but with a more in-depth look into beliefs, practices and actions. The best part is you can start at the beginning, in the middle or at the end. To help guide you even further, they have included at the beginning a Retention/Engagement Index to do a self-assessment to help direct you to chapters you may want to read first based on your score. This book meets you where you are! Look at the content list of chapters, complete the REI and see where you want to start. Perfect for everyone!

One of the chapters in the book is Dignity. Ponder and reflect on this word. If you are a leader how do people describe you? What if you are a co-worker? As we work in an environment, it is essential to get to know each other, understand cultures, learn about differences and build trust.

“Honoring others and treating them with dignity and respect may mean managing your moods?” We may have times when we need to apologize to others if we cannot control our moods. An example could be: an open meeting we disrespect another employee by yelling at them or making comments to belittle them. Recognizing this is not the best way to approach any situation. Providing an apology is a sign of respect and is appreciated.

Notice your staff, smile, greet them, introduce them to others, and help to make them feel visible. When people leave a job they often report they felt invisible. Your staff and co-workers want to be noticed and included.

In my blog post Wednesday Window Pain, I mentioned a story of my boss not being in her office after asking me to come over. Bosses who are busy, may seem to be unreachable. In my situation, it was true. I never had a time I could speak to her.

Employees feel unimportant and disrespected when they have to ask repeatedly to meet with the boss. Then when they do not hear back from the boss, you begin to lose them.

“Treating an employee with dignity means acknowledging how difficult and unique this life situation is.” Listen to employees’ needs and wants. Respond to them quickly and follow up if needed. Be helpful to them in their time of need. My boss always told us a story about a person dying because they worked so much. Remember, she said, we will continue to work when you are gone. You will be replaced and we will move on. I think she was trying to motivate us to spend more time with family, but the message was not clear to all.

Treat those you work with and for with respect, dignity, and love. You spend a great deal of time with those who choose a job you each wake up every morning to do! Isn’t it the best job and one you love! Don’t lose people who love what you all do!

Order your copy of Love’em or Lose’em on Amazon!

Wednesday Window Pain…Truth be told

It is now approaching more than an entire year of students, staff, families and communities facing Covid-19 with an interruption/disruption to life/school. Soon it will be spring break, then summer and fall. Will we fall back into the uncertainty of knowing how our children will learn in the next school year?

Doors provide shelter and safety from the world. When the door is closed, we are nestled in our comfort to be ourselves and not worry about others. No one can see us, judge or make us feel unsure, or can they? The thoughts from the day are still with us even though the door is closed.

We can look through the window to see the outside world and imagine our lives differently. Our struggle is real, but no one can see, even though the window can show a perfect picture. It is when you look deeper you can find the scars that are always there.

When others ask us, “How are you?” Do you say, I am fine, oh just fine. Never better. When asking others how they are? Do you want an answer other than fine? If you are answering the question, do you ever think of saying something different? The following is one of my favorite songs! I believe it is so true! Many of us say we are fine when we are not. Those of us ask questions like, how are you as a passing gesture but never want to know and support.

Behind every door, there is a story. Teachers have been able to get past the doors in many homes of students across the nation during this pandemic and this is terrifying for many. Inside the doors are the homes where families built a foundation of safety and trust. Now people are coming into this space and it is not feeling comfortable for anyone. Maybe there is more inside?

Depression is on the rise, and many side effects are happening due to the pandemic, with students staying at home. A great deal of stress and anxiety are in homes. They look at the window with pain and think others are doing better, but in reality, we all feel the pandemic’s effects, maybe at different levels, but it is there.

Suppose you are not looking at addressing social-emotional, mental health, and well-being with an equity lens. Then nothing will change and more children will be lost. We cannot focus on academics alone. It is time to make those plans to formulate ways to address these issues for staff, students, families, and the community.

I can speak professionally from experience and as a certified trainer and coach. Also, I can speak personally as a survivor of trauma, living with life-long injuries and dealing with loss due to trauma. There are many steps you can take to support your staff, students, families, community and self. Let’s face it, most of the time we forget about the care for ourselves.

However, if we keep the school doors closed, addressing all of these needs will continue to grow deeper. The science we are to follow seems to be transparent in it’s indication of face-to-face instruction. The vaccines are being distributed and protocols are being followed.

As an educator, I had many students cross my path with troubles they needed to share. Struggles often more significant than I could tackle alone, but with their permission, we invited in others who could help. I have seen things I wish I could unsee, heard sounds deafening and felt the pain. Hiding behind doors are secrets and stories needing to be told. They look through the windows and look for rays of sunshine to melt the pain they feel. Just as this song echoes the needs of connection as we recover from all of this pain.

Open the doors to opportunity, hope, learning, collaboration, support, and belonging. Differences are our strength. When we can recognize others as the answer to our weaknesses, we can build a strong partnership to accomplish great things.

I have made some very difficult decisions in my life. After my near-death accident, I ignored doctors and went back to work as a middle school Principal. As I began, I knew it was not the right decision. My Assistant Principal and secretary took great care of me in helping to keep up with my duties. My medical team and I knew it did help to push me through my recovery because of my sense of purpose. But not long into it, I realized I was being compliant and not working at the level of standards I expected. I told my leaders to keep it quiet but I would leave the Principal position at the end of the year. They decided a different plan and I ended up moving to a central office position. It would not be a day to day stress-packed situation.

It worked out fine for me as I continued to heal and even made some improvements with some programming. This seemed to be a good fit for me. Then changes began to happen as my leaders changed. My duties began to increase; communication was not consistent and clear. My injuries began to impact me daily with intensity.

My injuries were not visible. No one could see the pain, the frustration, or notice what was happening I was hiding behind office doors. Then one day, my health reached a point when I would have to tell my Superintendent. I had failed a stress test, and more testing was needed. All of my medications were going to have to be stopped until they could find out what was going on. I returned to my office and gave her a call. I told her I had just failed a stress test and more testing was needed. She told me to come over to her office to talk about it. It took me five minutes to get there. She was gone. The secretary said she had to leave to pick up her son she had forgotten about, but did not say anything about me coming. It was never talked about again or followed up with.

You have staff members afraid to talk, ask or seek help. Please open the door, but most importantly, invite them in to talk. Take time with each one and truly listen to them to find out what is going on. It is so important to keep connected with all of your staff, students and community.

I have more to my story I will share as it did not end with just that no show or concern for a staff member’s well-being. I am just finishing up a fantastic book called Love’em or Lose’em by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. I think the rest of my story fits in well with this book.

I have one last song that fits with my theme of healing and overcoming. It is more than just overcoming traumatic events in life, hardships, stress or any challenges we face. It is in our power of belief, support systems we have in place and our strength in knowing we are enough with a purpose to achieve! No matter race, religion, gender or economic background, I believe in you!

Stan Tall and Bea Proud, a great couple!

A loving couple to send the right messages today! Love, respect, compassion, understanding, and support.

Many years ago, I began my career in education as a teaching assistant. I genuinely love all of the children I served and have a strong passion for making each day better than before. It did not take long after encouragement from others; I made my way back to school to gain my teaching degree and then my masters to become an administrator.

The needs of the children I served were always my priority. Seeing early in my career the issue of bullying, I was allowed to develop approaches to address these social-emotional needs early. I thank my principal Susan Riggle for believing in a teaching assistant to bring programming to her school.

Shining Stars was born and with the assistance of our social workers we expanded. This is when I first met my dear friend Dr. Dorothy Espelage a worldwide known expert on bullying. The assistance she provided helped to improve our student’s needs and how they responded.

My career moved me to a position as Assistant Principal of the middle school. I had always been in elementary, so people did not think my elementary style would work. Well, children are children was my response.

So when I asked for help in constructing two large giraffes named Stan and Bea in our main hallway, people began to wonder. But, there was a significant reason for this project and the details would soon be disclosed.

“Welcome, everyone! Many of you I know from the elementary and now we are here in the middle school together! Did you love those awesome giraffes as you came in? The one on the left is Stan and the one on the right is Bea. They are part of the giraffe project to remind us of the importance we each play in our school, family and community. See Stan is all about standing tall and taking risks when it means sticking up for what is right! He knows standing by and letting someone or a group say or do something wrong is not right. He will stick his neck out for what is right and get help. Bea is all about being proud. She takes pride in how her school, household, community looks. When someone throws trash on the floor or ground she does her part in picking it up. Always remind others to keep our places clean as it is a reflection on us. But sometimes accidents happen, so when we see it, pick it up, we become part of the solution, not the problem.”

“Do you know why giraffes have such a long neck? Well, it is because one day, a father went to the top of the hill to keep an eye out for danger while the families grazed. He kept stretching, stretching, and stretching so he could see to warn the others. He was Stan’s great, great, great grandfather. This is where the saying, stick your neck out comes from!”

My purpose in telling this story is in setting up how you can begin a fun non-threatening way to talk about service-learning, bullying awareness, expectations and a culture of pride and respect. I have always had two rules, a consistent phrase I use and a signal to utilize to begin to speak no matter how big the crowd without raising my voice. I discuss all of this more in my book I hope to have out in the future.

How did the giraffe project go? We did well with it in our middle school. We raised our academic scores, decreased our amount of behavior issues and identified additional areas to support children.

Learn more about creating a giraffe project in your school and community at the link below. Many materials are free. If you need information on bullying, please feel free to connect with Dr. Dorothy Espelage on Twitter @DrDotEspelage


Are you Fred? Friday Finds

Are you Fred? Maybe you are and you don’t know it? I try to be Fred. If you have no idea what all of this means then please pick up a copy of The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn. It is one of my favorite staff development books!

I will not disclose the factors that make you a Fred, but it is exactly what you want in every organization and every individual’s life. These will inspire all to become more than ordinary to develop to extraordinary!

My attitude, philosophy or just my way, is to always seek to make today better than yesterday. How can we make things better for those we serve or serve with today? There are so many people, programs, books and places that come to mind when you think about special finds of inspiration, encouragement and joy.

I am the biggest fan of Walt Disney, maybe because my dad’s name was Walt and he made friends with everyone. I don’t think that is the reason I love Disney so much, but the characteristics he had made people happy! Every Sunday evening we gathered around the TV to watch Walt Disney. It was simply the best time! Then my very first trip to Walt Disney World was unbelievable.

The foundation of the work of Disney is Dream, Believe, Dare, Do and this model is how I have practiced my work in education. It is my intention to share all I have, believe in all of you as you take chances and do the work to succeed in making the future days the best ones ever! I truly believe in inspiration, encouragement, enjoying what you do, having a purpose and always finding solutions.

Begin with a few questions to get started:

Does everyone understand the role they play and that they make a difference?

Does everyone know how to invest in others and build relationships?

Does everyone know how to support each other by creating value?

These are just a few questions to start with as you look at yourself and team. Keep communication open. When communication is not clear, misunderstanding and misinformation can be the outcome. Never guess with your employees. In the current book I am reading the authors talk about having stay interviews. One of the strategies to use to keep employees instead of letting them go.

I am currently reading Love’em or Lose’em Getting Good People to Stay by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. I will be excited to share some of their 26 engagement strategies. I hope you stay in doing what you love!

Wednesday Words, they matter!


I want to give you a peace of mind. No, not a piece of mind! Words and their usage can be confusing. When you add-in tone, body language and biases, then it rises to a deeper level.

Language used in any setting influences those who are receiving the communication. They can recognize the power in the words from the tone, word choice, body language combined with the individual’s position.

Teachers in a class setting can influence the learners they serve in many ways: the actions, tones, and word choices. Students’ identities as learners are influenced by the power the learner gives to the teacher. Student demeanor, engagement, and outlook can change based on the language used by the teacher. There will always be exceptions and variables, but our responsibility is to set the standard high for communication to be at a level of positivity.

Knowing the responsibility, we have placed on the teaching staff to build relationships with students and families and focusing on the language of positivity. We as leaders need to do the same. How does our language help feed our staff with the fuel they need to feedback to their students as they work to feed up?

In my previous blogs I have talked about communication. Think about the last communication you had with staff? Was it a memo? An evaluation discussion? How about an email or text? What about that social media post?

I hope you are able to reflect and look at all of your forms of communication to see how others may feel, react, respond and react to your communications. Now think about communications you receive. Ask yourself the same questions. Language, words spoken, words heard, body and tone all play essential parts in our communication.

I am a firm believer in teaching vocabulary to students. Utilize positive talk for a supportive and encouraging climate. As an evaluator, it is essential to provide feedback vital to improvement. Feedback that feeds the moral, provides guidance and self-worth.

I am providing some links to additional articles from ASCD to continue your look at language. In addition, Larry Bell provided many years ago 12 powerful words students should know in order to understand questions on assessments. Vocabulary is essential for students. We will look at that topic more on a future blog.

My final piece is a poem by Charles Osgood. How many times have we responded to a question with “pretty good”? Words matter! Be careful not to settle for “pretty good.”


https://www.larry-bell.com 12 powerful words



Pretty Good by Charles Osgood

There once was a pretty good student
Who sat in a pretty good class
And was taught by a pretty good teacher
Who always let pretty good pass.
He wasn’t terrific at reading,
He wasn’t a whiz-bang at math,
But for him, education was leading
Straight down a pretty good path.
He didn’t find school too exciting,
But he wanted to do pretty well,
And he did have some trouble with writing
Since nobody taught him to spell.
When doing arithmetic problems,
Pretty good was regarded as fine.
5+5 needn’t always add up to be 10;
A pretty good answer was 9.
The pretty good class that he sat in
Was part of a pretty good school,
And the student was not an exception:
On the contrary, he was the rule.
The pretty good school that he went to
Was there in a pretty good town,
And nobody there seemed to notice
He could not tell a verb from a noun.
The pretty good student in fact was
Part of a pretty good mob.
And the first time he knew what he lacked was
When he looked for a pretty good job.
It was then, when he sought a position,
He discovered that life could be tough,
And he soon had a sneaking suspicion
Pretty good might not be good enough.
The pretty good town in our story
Was part of a pretty good state
Which had pretty good aspirations
And prayed for a pretty good fate.
There once was a pretty good nation
Pretty proud of the greatness it had,
Which learned much too late,
If you want to be great,
Pretty good is, in fact, pretty bad.

Monday Magic Questions

Monday’s always provide a new start to a work week with an extra cup of energy to boost you into gear! As the gears begin to turn on the commute into work it is a great time to pop in Monday Magic Questions!

Questions start the gears moving in the direction of solutions to problems you may not know to exist. Why? You have not asked the magic question!

One of my previous posts was titled. Can you help? What if the question today for everyone was, How can I help? A twist on the question but a completely different impact. If everyone in your work setting asked, how can I help? How do you react?

I have had the nickname Pollyanna and Hallmark. I do like to look at things more positively, but why not? The link I will share below will provide you with information regarding how people feel about the workplace. I have designed several professional developments regarding positive culture and climate. One of my favorites was for a new Superintendent and her team. Part of the development design for her was to create a way for people to know her message and build a strong positive relationship. We did a letter of assurances to staff. I believe, I will, I am, I have and statements to let them know leadership was in their corner.

A warning to all when you make assurances they need to be genuine and followed through on. This will make or break your climate and culture!

More Magic Monday questions will come as you continue to grow, lead and succeed! When people know you care for them, they will care for you! If you model what you want to do, they will do the same for you. Please let me know how I can help you!


Job Satisfaction Statistics (Editor’s Choice):

  • Only 20% of American employees feel enthusiastic about their jobs.
  • Only 55% of Americans are either satisfied or fully satisfied with what they do.
  • 33% of the American workers think that they are at their career’s dead end.
  • 21% of employees are very keen to change their careers.
  • 63% of the employees feel more committed to their organization when their employers treat them with respect.
  • 32% of the employees feel pressured to not take any time off.
  • 70% of the employees say they feel more driven to work hard when they get a vacation for a week or so.
  • 95% of American employers think that their financial wellness packages are effective to reach the company goals.