Tag: Leadership

Solution Weekly, January 2-8, 2022

January 2-8, 2022

Gifts we unwrap

What gifts did you unwrap this Christmas you found to be the most important to you? I love to hear about traditions and special gifts people share during the Christmas season. It is my favorite holiday for so many reasons, and one I love to celebrate each day of the year. I have some special ones to share with you this week.

How to face challenges

Challenges we know we will face. We never know when they will come, the depth of their reach, or the hardship they may bring. As we turn on the local news, we see challenges our communities face, and a flip of the station, we broaden our view to include our nation and global challenges. The challenges we have maybe personal to us and direct our focus to specific issues. When these conflicts come to our lives, it is how we approach, react and respond that helps to see us through.

Conversations-Difficult/Consistent/Clear

Conversations are critical in our daily interactions. Our need for consistent and clear communications help to maintain an understanding of basic needs and information. Building strong relationships are formed based on the ability of the conversations we can hold, even when they are difficult.

Kick-off Clearly

Begin with clarity! Take the time to state the mission clearly, vision, and directional steps to reach the destination. This is the opportunity, to begin with, a reset, renewal, and redirection to recharge your group. Let’s complete the template provided in the website’s resource section, “Kick-Off.”

How to start-Two Rules philosophy

I have been selecting My One Word each year for several years. This year I have chosen commitment. I am committed to bringing my Two Rule philosophy in book form to publishers and supporting all who want to begin this practice. Two Rules can be applied to every aspect of life and work. The Two Rules are simple in stating and purposeful in implementing their approach. It begins with mindset.

Solutions Weekly December 26-January 1st

Welcome to 2022 this week!

Transforming, Acceptance, Focused, Why

Facing forward to the year 2022, many have set goals to achieve. This week’s weekly starts with four words Transforming, Acceptance, Focused, and Why. My one word for the year is “commitment,” which I selected a few weeks ago.

I want to thank all of you who have selected to follow #bethesolutiondaily. In the coming weeks, I hope more will join us on a journey in 2022 with numerous offerings of transformations; we face acceptance of things we can not change and a focus on the importance of the “why” of our life.

Overcoming

What do you do when you face a problem? Is it personal or professional? Does it make a difference, or are they connected?

Expectations for 2022

We have a lot to share, learn, experience and knowledge to gain. There are many things I am facing in 2022; what is ahead for you? Thankful for a continued journey.

Do you know me?

How much do you know the students you teach? The families you serve? Your co-workers you see each day? How about your neighbors, community, or the agencies providing service to others?

I share with you my one word for the year commitment. I hope you have selected one or at least thinking about one you can focus on for 2022. In addition to the one word, I always like to select an action step to complete to help me enrich my life.

This is the one I did for my daughter. She has chickens, rooster, ducks, geese and so much more!

I started painting in 2021 and completed four paintings I gifted to others. I gave my first one to my husband and it hangs in our home. The second one I gave to my daughter and she has it displayed in her home. I am not sure about the other two I gave to my sister-in-law and friend. They all seemed to be so happy with the paintings and this made me feel good. So I am going to plan to paint one painting every month starting in January. It is a lofty goal but I am just going to make an effort to paint monthly. I have purchased the materials and I am ready to go.

So, what are ways you can get to know others and get to know your self at a deeper level? If you are working in an Educational setting I have the Artifact Bag activity I have done I am placing in the resource page of my website. This is a fun way to get to know each other. I am guessing it would work in other settings as well!

Getting to know you

  • Artifact Bag activity-Resource Page of Website
  • Pop Back from Break-Resource Page of Website
  • One on One Conversations
  • Inviting to share lunch
  • Sending a card to their home
  • Sending out a question of the day- “What do you like to_____” When you are able to gather some data you can begin to drop off some favorite things on a “Favorite Thing Day.”
  • Take a tour of the community to get to know all of the agencies
  • Knock on doors to introduce yourself to those in the community
  • Family, Friends and Food brings fun! (Hold special events)
  • Have places for people to always drop in information you can gain information to learn more about them.

My one word-2022

Each year I make an effort to think about what I want to accomplish in the coming year. I have been involved this year 2020 with many wonderful and engaging individuals (Too many to name and I do not want to leave anyone out). As I interacted with them I took in all they were saying, doing and how they were engaging. I feel so blessed on this beautiful journey, but it is time for me to take this next step.

Last year I focused on Courage. I did a lot of things around courage. I have a blog, website, stepped out more in my writing with Lead Change, BK authors group and on their planning committee, helped IPA with their conference, helping four principals on their journey and so much more!

It still did not help me breakthrough the resistance of the next step. What holds me back? The noise in my head, the fears from that day are still there and I just hold onto this world I feel like I still have control of in my hands. I can post a blog, a tweet, an article on LinkedIn,a picture on Instagram or a comment on Facebook. Not much will change for me in doing any of those things. However, if I take the next step many things can happen.

If I go with my word Commitment for 2022 and take the next step, things change. A promise to myself to change and challenge myself to take the next step. Psalm 37:5-6 Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. I am counting on my family, friends and you to help me with this commitment.

I will give my book to my marketing team and my friend Becky in January! It scares me so much. In 2010 my life changed forever and then in 2018, it came crashing back in through a door I fought hard to keep open. Both times I felt as though my life was lost. I worked hard with the help of faith, family and friends to move forward. It feels like to me this book is what has kept me going during this period and if it is not good, the door closes, I know all of those fears, feelings will come flooding into my mind.

A semi-truck hit the vehicle my daughter was driving. I was sitting right behind her.

I am moving forward with commitment as my word for 2022! I will continue to do my writing daily and help others as much as I can. We will hope 2022 brings us all a great year! Have good thoughts for my book Two Rule School as I currently have it titled.

Empowerment instead of disengagement

We have to determine the barriers students may be facing and why they disengage. What can we do to support and remove barriers? Not only identify barriers for students but staff as well.

  • Lack of purpose
  • Mindset
  • Past experience
  • Fear of failure
  • Peer pressure
  • Motivation

Is the list above for students or staff?

Can it fit both staff and students? I think so! Barriers like those listed can exist at any age. Lack of purpose can be found when we are uncertain of the direction we need to take our lessons if we do not have the background knowledge to comprehend the lesson’s purpose. How can we help when we identify this as a barrier? Reminding them of “why.” Why did you become a teacher? Why do you want to be a _____?

Mindsets are essential in how we approach all aspects of our lives. We have been made more aware of this through others like Carol Dweck. When we are promoting a growth mindset, it benefits all.

Past experiences and failures play into our hesitations into taking risks, chances, or trying something new. As we provide safe working and learning environments, barriers are removed, and opportunities are available to stretch into new areas.

Peer pressure can be positive or negative. Drive peer pressure to become positive by promoting leadership. Turn leadership in your settings into a way to work to be inclusive, collaborative, and engaging. Student leadership is a way to build skills needed to grow and enhance learning. Teacher leadership builds capacity and expands knowledge, focusing on improving everyone.

Motivation drives teaching and learning. As the world fights the fears and realities of the pandemic, education has been hit hard. Humans want to feel validated, appreciated, safe and secure. It is hard to find motivation with so many negatives daily. Thank you to all who are showing up each day! We will do all we can to help provide the best conditions, support, and resources to promote motivation! Positive messages, fewer extras, more acknowledgments, and gratitude!

Every chance you have, empower others to work hard to achieve dreams. Today is a present; tomorrow will be a gift, and there are no exchanges, so make them incredible!

Rediscovering Learning-Building Connections

The delivery of instruction changed and left educators rediscovering the learning inequities as the environments flipped from virtual, hybrid, and in person. We can look at how these changes have caused us to pause and rethink homework, relationships, and assignments.

In addition, recognizing building relationships is essential and prioritizing working intentionally together. Being connected is not about technology but individual human relationships. We can look at learning and relationship building during the shifts we continue to experience.

Changing venues from virtual, hybrid, and in-person provided teachers with opportunities to learn along with their students on how these changes impact the learning environment. No longer would homework be looked at in the same way. Building classroom community took a mind shift as the virtual world flipped to the students to help take a more significant lead for sharing the responsibility of defining a safe and supportive learning community. They were helping to hold each other accountable.

Teaching Approach-Student Leadership

We can either use our strengths or abuse our powers as leaders; the choice is ours to make. It is always a choice to be part of the problem or the solution. Our future leaders sit in the seats in front of you today.

  • Explain the value of the learning and the connections to real life.
  • Increase ownership in education by providing students with choices.
  • Teach students goal setting.
  • Create opportunities to learn how to reflect on the work completed, the planning process, the steps in monitoring, and make adjustments based on assessments.
  • Model effective strategies for assigned tasks, projects, or assignments.
  • Provide direct and specific feedback.
  • Teach study and organizational skills.
  • Build vocabulary and background knowledge daily for students.
  • Establish an environment where it is safe to make mistakes and encourage students to justify responses.
  • Understand there is always a solution to every identified problem.

Homework was used to practice skills taught at school, but now we look at homework to complete the work not achieved in the workday. It is also used as an extension to enrich and apply critical thinking. We do not want to add stress to homes during times like these, but continued learning growth is essential for our students.

Learning journeys are individually driven. Each individual has a different skill set, interests, strengths, and weaknesses. We have common goals we want to achieve, and some will get there faster than others. We must provide what they need along their journey and feed their intellectual, emotional, and physical well-being.

Recover, Motivate, Reward

Covid-19 contributes to our systems, with new variants popping up to prompt officials to review practices and issue mandates. Schools look at the numbers rise and wonder if they will recover. How can they continue to motivate staff and students? Will educators have rewards for the hard work they are doing this year? How will students recover from interrupted services and be motivated during challenging times?

Working with school leaders, I hear, feel and see the levels of exhaustion, frustration, and desire to “fix” everything. Reality sets in, and acknowledging the facts of the resources available to utilize are the critical barriers they face. Looking at the most valuable resource, staffing, and realizing pieces are missing.

Several years ago, before the pandemic, we predicted teacher shortages and administrative shortages as well. Education is not a field individuals were looking to go into as a career. The enrollments in these programs have been dropping. Now we have shortages, a pandemic, and a high need for support.

In a survey of 1,000 K-12 educators, changes were identified they thought would best support students’ learning as we continue to recover from the pandemic as follow:-Horace Mann Educators Corporation. (2021) “Closing the Learning Gap: How frontline educators want to address lost learning due to Covid-19.”

  • 53% recommended to focus on fewer grade-level standards.
  • 34% think schools need more paraprofessionals to provide support to struggling learners.
  • 30% recommend more social-emotional learning resources to help students process the effects of the past year.

Recover

Strategies are utilized to help with staffing shortages. Some states are making accommodations to licenses and are working to approve non-traditional professionals to step into teaching. This is a short-term fix, and we need to build into our programs “grow your own” to elevate these shortages. The goal of the number of people to fill positions is critical. Current staff is taking turns to cover classrooms to assist and support the needs. Educators are exhausted.

Currently, the staff is working to help students recover from learning loss as they fight against the staff shortages. In a classroom, you could find the learning levels of students stretch across several grade levels. It is hard to help meet the needs of all these different levels, engage all learners, help to keep all motivated, and not let students disconnect because they see no hope. How can we help students?

  • Move to student choice activities where they can see themselves in the work they are doing.
  • Teach in deeper levels.
  • Provide students with opportunities to set goals.
  • Meet students where they are, not where you want them to be.
  • Do not talk down, but talk up. Students will rise if you start them with high expectations and believe in them. You begin with talking down; they will not increase even if they can.

Motivate

Every day is an opportunity to share with others. Motivate daily! There are many different ways to motivate, and I have not found a magic wand that works on everyone, so you have to try other things to see what works for an individual or group.

Reward

In teaching and learning, I have always found the reward in doing them. Some people need more than a feeling as a reward. Many would like to see themselves as the Teacher of the Year, Principal of the Year, Student of the Month, and so many other individual awards you can receive.

The rewards we look for as educators are children’s eyes as they finally solve the math equation they have been working on today. The students look when their name is called as their essay was selected as the winner in the scholarship contest. The excitement when the robot the students built takes its first step. So many moments we get to share as the students share their learning journey with us.

Leadership-Are you Authentic?

Ask a team of administrators what kind of leader they are, you will receive various answers. However, in all leadership styles, there are qualities shared. You will always find similarities between the different approaches to leadership.

A new style is an Authentic Leader. However, it isn’t new. We discuss authenticity as being an important characteristic and skill for all leaders. People do not want to follow someone who is not authentic in their efforts. Leaders demonstrate through their actions, speech, and communication the values and behaviors they expect from their team.

I have been in education for decades and have heard “Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk.” It was explained to me to mean if you are talking a bunch of stuff to do and expecting others to do it, but you are not doing it, then you are not Walking the Talking. I am not clear on where this originated, but if you have heard it, maybe you know; if you have not heard it, then it started here. Do what you say. There are no ifs and buts about it.

Have you heard, “Do as I say, not as I do.” I believe this one is confusing on rules and expectations. This statement indicates the leader is modeling the opposite of what you should do.

Actions speak louder than words. If you are providing expectations for staff and others to follow, then model. If you are not able to do this, then you are not authentic in your leadership.

Enhance your skills

  • Define clearly your core values and beliefs
  • Reflect, Review and Become Self-Aware
  • Identify, Engage and Empower your leadership team
  • Inspire, Improve and Support others
  • Find Balance and Motivation
  • Get connected by being personal-not too personal(boundaries)
  • Stay centered-Focus on your why

Nourishing Teaching and Learning-Today, Tomorrow and Always

The purpose of education seems to have different meanings when you ask other groups. If we look through the political accountability lens, the goal is to increase standards and raise requirements for test scores to reflect passing levels. Students may see education as just going to school, following the rules, and turning in their assignments. Families look at it as a way for their children to build a solid foundation to prepare for college and careers.

As we look at Teaching and Learning, we will discover more of how our teachers build lessons daily to empower students for today, tomorrow, and all of the days following. Many aspects of teaching and learning support all of the needs of learners.

Students begin learning the first day they enter a classroom. Each day they are present, they must know and take the learning with them. Students need to understand and value the teaching they are doing. This foundational learning from today carries to the skill building of tomorrow. This promotes the growth required to progress.

Each lesson taught must build on what students already know and guide them to the next level of learning. The purpose of this teaching is to help students feel the growth with their knowledge. To understand the engagement and ability in their influence around them as they continue to embrace learning. Our teachers and education system provide a precise direction grade level by grade level.

It is not just about building blocks for a foundation and following a blueprint of construction as we connect the levels of learning. As teachers, we nourish our students ultimately. The whole child is provided with needs to promote enrichment, physical wellness, promoting a moral compass, and overall conditions for well-being.

I hope as I lead others, they will always gain the knowledge and practice: “Education is something we do with children, not to them. We need to nourish our children with the gift of enriched education, physical wellness, promotion of a moral compass, and always engage in ways to think in the abstract while finding better ways to do things. Our job in education is not to teach children how to think, but to provide opportunities to think, ask questions and consider solutions.”~Yoho

Making Space to keep tension from destroying morale

Find a place, the time, a system, a technique, or your way to make space for dealing with the tension you face. Each day in school, some level of stress is confronted by someone. Where there is tension, you will find morale going down. As we all faced the challenges of COVID and the changes which went along with this pandemic, stress followed.

Developing how we respond to tension, stress, and anxiety will help keep morale on production levels. When individuals face pressure, the results are the same with stories of frustration, hopelessness, anger, conflicts, and a breakdown in cooperation can occur when tension is high. We can work on finding solutions to guide us in addressing stress.

Steps and Solutions

The first step in any situation is to always pause with focus. Give your attention to the individual experiencing the tension. If you do not, they may believe you are not taking the situation seriously.

Second, actively listening to the individual or individuals can set the tone to calming. If you interrupt or argue in this process, individuals believe you are not hearing them but trying to impose your desires on them. Just listening, paying attention to feelings and concerns helps to validate them. As you participate in this process, acknowledge and recognize the work, effort, and commitment of those you are listening to boost morale. Listen to hear and learn to help find solutions.

The best way to help individuals know you are listening and you hear them is to paraphrase the conversation. Let them know you understand their need and concern.

After focusing, actively listening, repeating to them what you heard and understood, it is time to offer possible solutions. Always be prepared for other ideas and solutions to the situation. A great statement posted by a teacher on Twitter said, “Principals, if you ask me if I am okay and I tell you why I am not okay. Please do not respond with, “I am sorry to hear that.” Be ready to help find solutions! It is not the time to place blame or criticize.

One additional step in reducing tension, stress, anxiety, and deflation in morale is the use of humor. Relationships and connections should be permanently established. Go See the Principal by Gerry Brooks is an excellent book with examples of how educators can connect daily. Humor diffuses tension, provides opportunities to “cool down” when tempers rise to allow for rational responses instead of impulsive reactions.

Time for laughter

If your work environment does not include laughter, please be the one to add it. Help others bring more each day. Classrooms need it as well. Our basic needs in life are necessary to be met, and laughter is one needed by all.