Tag: Learning

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

Forward Teaching, Self-Paced Learning

Covid-19 placed all of us in the circumstances we did not expect. The approaches to recovery look different in the realms of the business, industrial, and education worlds. Education is faced with an overwhelming challenge to help students at an even more comprehensive range of learning levels than they have ever met before. The approach of plowing ahead expecting students to keep up is not going to work. Now is an excellent time to create flexibility that allows students to progress at a pace that supports their learning. One speed does not fit all, but individual pacing avoids students being left behind or held back. When students can learn at a rate that matches their readiness, they almost always are more successful. I understand, some students may not be exposed to as much content, but learning is much better than mere exposure. The problem we face is the loss of learning time. The solution is to provide an individual learning pace to acquire the foundational learning needed to continue to succeed in the progression of knowledge.

My philosophy of education remains the same as it has always been. Education is something we do with children, not to them. We can choose to be part of the problem or the solution; the choice is always ours to make as students, families, educators, and communities. The learner is not passive. Therefore it has always been my belief they should be in control of their learning. I need to explain this more deeply. provide guidance, curriculum, standards, and expectations. If learners can deeply learn what they are taught, they will be more successful. We need to provide the essentials in our priorities of skills. Our children need to understand how to learn, what interests them in education, apply knowledge to everyday life, and establish goals.

It is an excellent time to consider how students can become more fully engaged in and committed to their learning. Traditionally, schools have relied on compliance as a key driver of student learning and performance. Compliance has worked for some students; it has not been for too many learners. In a remote learning setting, compliance is a low-leverage strategy. We control far too few variables to force compliance. We need to nurture the skills and habits necessary to succeed in a learning environment where learners are co-investors in the teaching and learning process.

The stakes are high as we continue living with the pandemic. It is not time to lower standards but to look at our strategies to help with learning.

Teaching Tips, construction for building Listen Up leaders

What is the purpose of our work? It is to create skilled, adaptive learners who will be productive, positive citizens. Right? We need to give significant thought to our practices. Our students matter, we matter, and what we teach matters.

Absolutely the sequences of history are essential to teaching. We need to know where we have been to see where we are going. Memorizing names, dates, and places is not something we need to spend time doing when the information is literally in the hands of our students, on their wrists, or embedded in their glasses.

I can remember being told what students needed to be prepared for their future jobs. Things are changing at such a fast pace. Do you think we can provide them with the concrete skills they need for the future? We don’t know the content they need or the skills they will perform, but we know they will face circumstances we can prepare them to handle. Students will need to observe, adapt, learn and trust themselves to be their own best teacher. They will need to have a growth mindset and a desire to hunger for learning.

Helping students see the blueprints for learning provides the “big picture” look. Students need to build their capacity. I provided bullet points of the highlights as we made our classrooms for learning. What strategies do you think have the best potential to help develop student capacity? This should be our focus to prepare students for jobs of the future.

Build a classroom for “working learners.”

  • Begin with a blueprint for your workers
  • Provide them with the tools they need
  • Encourage them to look over the blueprints, ask “why” questions to get to the “what” and “ how” of the process
  • Workers need to take their work personally and need to have power in influencing the environment and control of their future.
  • Completing the work on one project can be applied to other projects. Helping workers understand and to see how their learned skills can transfer.
  • Collaboration and teaching each other build skills to strengthen understanding and deepen learning.
  • Looking for solutions, investigating, testing, and analyzing provides workers with opportunities to discover how to question rather than solve. Sometimes solving for a correct answer only misses out on additional learning opportunities.
  • An essential part of “building” is constantly checking to assess the effectiveness and performance, giving feedback, reflecting on work, and determining what works and does not.

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.

Tuesday Teaching

As students enter our classrooms, we hope they will be ready and engaged in learning. Academic success is the outcome we want for each student in our classroom, but we know it can not be just our want.

Students need to have a foundation of academic skills, a character of perseverance, and a sense of curiosity. As I make a statement like this, what do you do to spark curiosity in your classroom?

Did you know that research shows “brain chemistry” actually changes when we become curious? A change in our brains has an impact on how we learn and remember information. So we need to pay attention to research to provide the best learning environments.

Tip #1 for helping to build curiosity in the classroom is:

Let’s not start our lessons by telling everything! “Today we are going to learn how to make water!” or “Today we are going to combine some elements and see what happens!”

Making objectives like this helps to keep students curious about what will be happening. In your lesson plan, you have stated the goal: students will learn that hydrogen and oxygen make water, but if we tell them upfront, then the excitement is lost.

As teachers, we have difficulty in allowing students to struggle. Often we rush to provide the answers or solutions instead of giving time to work through them. To help stretch students and engage them more profoundly, we may want to facilitate more confusion opportunities. Why not ask questions with no clear answer. It is hard because we are trying to get all of our curricula taught, but for our students to stay engaged, we have to keep them curious.

Humans are naturally curious! However, curiosity is not a one size fits all glove. Allowing students choice in learning helps in keeping curiosity and engaging learning opportunities going. While we have students curious, we can teach those fundamental skills they may need to fill in gaps in their knowledge. Just like we try to get the kiddos to eat those veggies, we have to get creative in our approach.

Words are real, Yolo

English Words That Changed Meanings over Time By 15 JUNE 2018 https://www.daytranslations.com/blog/english-words-changed-meanings/ A great look at a few words and how they have changed.

The English language is rich. The history of the language is fascinating to learn and understand. Historians and philosophers are protective in shielding changes to the words and meanings. How many new words are added to our language? How many are changed in their meaning? Do you think about who monitors our language? Who decides when a word becomes a “real” word? Who is in charge of creating the dictionaries we use?

Lots of questions! Listen to this TedTalk below from 2014, but still relevant to the topic. Do you have words you use today you did not use 10 or 20 years ago? Have you heard a new word? In the title, you probably thought I made a typo with my name Yoho. I typed Yolo instead. It was with a purpose, no typo. What does Yolo mean? Check the dictionary to verify, but I believe you will find the first meaning: you only live once. Great! You have learned a new word today! Yolo is a significant focus when you wake up each day to remember! I would not mind if you remembered Yoho too! It is a great name you can connect to being the solution daily!

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?

Doctor, Doctor, Teacher, Teacher…what do you say? I have a bad case of…..

Gather facts before you react!

“Don’t presume learning lost to Covid, ” says John Hattie. “While the pandemic will have created some gaps in knowledge, the author and academic warns teachers against making assumptions when it comes to student progress.”-Simon Lock, March 3, 2021 (tes.com)

The impact of disruption to education we can all acknowledge. Lack of equity and availability of access to technology brought the attention to the needs of improvement. Parental support became an even more significant point as everyone struggled with a balance of work, remote learning and then loss of jobs. Can we acknowledge families and individuals were doing the best they could under these conditions?

The majority of children worked independently in their learning and will have developed skills as a result. Reports on the nightly news reported how schools had a drop in enrollment and we’re having difficulty locating children. Families were working to figure things out as the pandemic touched every life differently.

When all of our schools open the doors for face-to-face instruction, we also need to open our minds to new possibilities. Things will be different! Let’s not have the expectation we will be back to “normal.” Defining “normal” can be varied from person to person. Let’s embrace the facts we have learned from this pandemic and we will diagnose then treat each individual. No prejudgement, labels or categories assigned.

“For example, this notion of self-regulation where you know how to monitor your progress and what to do next; I think some teachers are going to be very surprised that some kids have those skills,” Hattie says. “But in many classrooms they’re not allowed to use them, because teachers won’t release responsibility.”-John Hattie

In previous writings, I have stated my belief in the importance of student control of learning. “Education is something we do with children, not to them.”-Brenda Yoho. When we focus on expectations, strategies, strengths, and areas to improve, it develops support for the learner, not the outcomes. Learners understanding of how to respond when they do not know is a skillset with lifetime value.

The importance of how you approach back to school face to face instruction is critical to propel student learning forward and not back. Time is precious as we know and losing any of it with wasted strategies and plans, will not provide our learners with the push they need. Make solid plans now and know students are ready!

Thank you for being part of the solution daily! Helping learners grow to the next level on their journey.

What are the fundamental changes happening or being planned for learning?


“It is little short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction have not completely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.”-Albert Einstein

As we make our way into the world, we are full of curiosity, creativity, and ready to explore. The importance of this time has been stressed as vital to the overall development of children. The more exposure children have to books, language, and experiences to enrich their learning provides a strong foundation as they move to formal education.

School begins with the organization of routines and understanding how to follow directions. Every day students go to school following the same practice and an understanding that making the teacher happy provides rewards. The rewards are good grades.

“Teaching is far from perfect. It’s messy, and in that mess is where you’ll craft your teaching and truly enjoy the journey.”-Lisa Dabbs

We have many myths around learning that we need to look at, and they are:

  • It’s important to know your learning style
  • The more times you read it, the better you’ll learn it
  • You should focus on one clump of material at a time
  • Go with your gut
  • The more hours you spend studying, the better

I have included the article 5 popular myths about learning debunked as they explain why. https://eab.com/insights/daily-briefing/academic-affairs/5-popular-myths-about-learning-debunked/

Learning develops at different rates and is unique to each child. To help children’s readiness for new skills is identifying the mastery of prerequisite skills. How are your plans for learning developing learners? Are you practicing utilizing myths? Do students have opportunities for creativity, inquiry, and discovery? Would you want to come to your class? What about your students, do they want to come?

Ask some questions to discover the answers to learning. Thank you for being the solution daily!

This or That Thursday

All about choice!

As a shopper, don’t you love choices! I have a friend that sometimes, okay all of the time, has a hard time making a decision when shopping. I go in, look at the choices and buy. I do love clearance stuff! Remember from my previous posts; I make a big deal about Christmas, so I shop year-round.

So when looking at teaching and learning, choice makes sense to me. Teachers’ autonomy is essential in creating teaching and learning environments where joy is found. Teachers make choices in how they approach the content and skills students need to master. They are not straying away from the units, content and skills but the approach.

Teachers, given the opportunity, would prefer to develop expertise in a variety of ways to teach reading, depending on the learners’ needs, rather than teaching every student according to one mandated approach. Teachers, in a culture of autonomy, would invest, study, learn and explore more than they do currently. Most of our systems require all teachers to attend the same “professional development” regardless of what stage they are in. Teachers want the responsibility of their classroom. One glove does not fit all and we know this so why do we continue to try these things?

Learners’ autonomy is critical as well. One of the goals we should have is to guide our students forward in building leadership skills. Taking charge and making choices of their learning promotes engagement, ownership, retention, motivation and establishes a foundation for growth.

I have stated my support for student lead conferencing previously. Providing opportunities for students always to have a voice, choice and ability to gain skills to build a strong foundation for their future is always a priority for our future leaders. Accountability for learning does not rest on the shoulders of one, but many. My statement needs repeating, “Education is something we do with children not to them.” Learning is joyful not painful. We want lifelong learners, eager to explore, take risks, innovate and create.

Choice is essential to all of us. We make choices each day in many ways. I hope we can continue to explore ways to support teachers and learners with choice. I have included a link to Dr. Catlin Tucker’s blog which provides additional information. Dr. Tucker is an author to several books about blended learning. Please visit her website, follow her on Twitter @Catlin_Tucker

Would You Rather: Designing with Choice in Mind

Thank you for being part of the solution daily for all of those in need. If not you, then who? Today you make a difference.