Every day is a gift, unwrap them with your “why” and “gratitude.” –Brenda Yoho In each day you will find what you seek. The time clicks, tics and flies by, but it is in how we choose to fill, remember and remind ourselves to appreciate all they bring.
Monday’s are the best! I love them because the weekend gave time for family and friends. We had time to rest, relax and reflect. A great time to renew and refresh our spirit. Now, this is me speaking as a retired educator and grandmother.
My hard-working, teaching daughter and mother of three would maybe add a few more things to her weekend. I imagine she would add catching up on laundry, grocery shopping, meal prepping for the week, house cleaning, organizing the schedule for the week, and doing any other repairs needed around the house with the help of her husband. She adds to her plate many other things to volunteer for and I look at her with pride as I know I lived life like that as well!
At different times in your life journey, your path leads you to different destinations and opportunities. It is how we react and respond to them that determines our next steps. If you review your days, I am sure you would say, “I cannot add one more thing to it!”
There is no magic wand or way to ensure you have a balance in your life. The only way to achieve this is to manage your time with an intentional purpose. If you do not manage your time, others will. The balance in your life with time is up to you.
There are going to be things that come up, unexpected emergencies, unexpected calls to meetings or to handle a situation. The best way to handle this is to expect the unexpected. Always plan in your daytime for these kinds of situations, because they will happen. Remember, it is in how we respond and react to every situation that determines how we fill, remember and remind ourselves of the time.
- Maintain a color-coded calendar to highlight the areas of “how” you spend time (Discipline issues, Instructional time, Emails, Phone calls)
- Schedule personal reflection time
- Keep a journal
- Have a day or a specific time that is a “Do Not Interrupt or Disturb.” I had a Friday evening, Family and Friends Night. This is when I had dinner with Family and Friends. We schedule a dinner every Friday evening. Also, I came to work an hour before anyone else arrived for a “Getting Ready” time.
- Schedule 15-minute breaks in the day. Now you do not have to use them, but it is there for unexpected time so you can tackle something on your calendar you need to get to.
- Never waste a minute- Try to make time count twice? So if you are in a classroom observing as a walkthrough data point, also select a student to notice. Make some notes on a card you carry with you so you can drop it in the mailbox along with the one you will send to the staff member. (I can go into more detail about how impactful card sending is if you email me firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Tag teams- if you work with a team, share calendars so if you need help you can message and ask if someone can help you with blank at this time. It makes it so much more effective when the team works together in this way and can tag each other when those “Unexpected” situations occur.
- Prepare when you can for things you hope will never happen, but they sometimes do when you do not expect it to happen. Have a letter ready for the death of a student, teacher, school leader, or a person dedicated to your school. These come in handy because if you are like me, the situation overwhelms you with emotions. Being prepared helps so information can get out to individuals quickly. Make sure these are addressed in your crisis and emergency plans on what steps to take. I would like to say I have never had to deal with any of these, but unfortunately, I have more times than anyone should.
Every day counts in our lives of service to others. Knowing how to focus your service on others is a massive part of helping to target the needs to grow. Start your week out right with a Meaningful Monday!
Everyone makes mistakes! I think some individuals think they can’t make a mistake. Worse than thinking you can’t make a mistake is needing help and not asking for it. Think about mistakes, talk with others and discuss if it is easy to ask for help.
“Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.”Oh Mandino
As my title states, intelligent people or knowledgeable individuals will not ask for help when they need to ask. Not asking for help is a big mistake. They allow their clouded judgment to get in the way, or is it ego?
Thinking you may know more about everything than anyone else is not a good choice. Considering we know more is another mistake of closing the door to opportunities for learning and resources when you tune them out. Have you ever been in a professional development workshop and watched as others graded papers or did stuff on their phone?
Avoiding, hiding, and ignoring problems hoping they will go away is a huge mistake. These actions make concerns grow more extensive. We have to address issues and the people causing the problem.
- Ask for help when needed
- Never allow yourself to think you know everything
- Control reactions by learning to adapt
- Avoiding, ignoring and hiding problems makes them grow. Instead, stand up to face and resolve.
Be aware of your thinking and your actions. Making mistakes happens to all of us. Let’s not make them a habit. We deal with invaluable children to lose sight of the significance of our work.
One of the needs every individual has is to feel validated. As educators, we set it as a priority to establish positive relationships with co-workers, students, and families. However, we do not spend enough time helping each other learn how to accomplish them. One way is mentoring!
Why not start a mentoring program at your school? Teachers mentor other teachers, staff members mentor students, students mentor students, parents help to mentor other mentors. When mentoring becomes the norm, you can begin to see a more helpful and welcoming environment. The wonderful thing about mentoring is the benefit both receive!
In that list of mentors, I left out the most crucial role that needs a mentor the most, the principal. Often we forget to feed our leaders with rich development and dedicated support to help the schools the most. Is there a fear of having a mentor or coach? Is this a signal the leadership is not strong? I sure hope not.
Mentors are “trusted” wise individuals who offer advice, suggestions, ideas, teach, and model. Sooner or later in our lives, we all need inspiration, direction, and instruction as we face many different things. Even mentors and coaches need to have someone to help them too. We can prepare, be informed, and try to keep up with everything, but if we try that approach, burnout is what we will have.
Modeling for others is the best way to get mentoring started. Provide information about your mentoring experience and see if anyone is interested in participating. Mentors are the best cheerleaders for those they are mentoring. They are also the ones that will provide a reality check—in addition, stretching you to reach beyond your comfort zone to achieve goals.
Rules to Mentoring
- Help establish goals
- Be an active listener
- Ask questions to stretch thinking
- Facilitate Problem Solving with an open-minded approach
- Be consistent with offering time
- Confidentiality and trustworthy
- Keep the focus on the individual and not you
- Honest feedback
Expectations from Receiving Mentoring
- Help with goal setting
- Identifying strengths and weaknesses
- Providing new ways to look at situations
- Learning new skills
- Gathering tools, strategies, and resources
- Networking with others to build professional connections
- Confidence, Inspiration, Motivation
Every mentoring relationship is different. How you set up your work together is how the outcomes will be developed. At the first meeting together, you can establish the goals you want from the mentoring process.
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.
In education, we measure, collect data, and report on students’ performance at grade levels. However, what matters in the big picture of learning? Accountability of the test scores reported on the school, district, and the teacher in the evaluation process plays an important role. Teachers are asked to set growth goals; schools do the same, and districts are told to keep up. So what matters to student achievement?
“In reality, it is through classroom assessment that attitudes, skills, knowledge, and thinking are fostered, nurtured, and accelerated-or stifled.”-Hynes
For the last decades, the measurement of what mattered to the standardized test scores did not equal the results in the overall learning capacity. These measurements lead to increased test scores in areas but without increased learning. Students could memorize information but not apply skills. Students need to have a clear understanding of the content and the skills. The instruction and measurement must have a balance between content and skills.
Transferring knowledge to other areas requires students to have a high-level understanding of the skills and content to apply in various contexts. In measuring this level of expertise, it moves beyond multiple-choice and short answer questions. Students will need to demonstrate through problem-solving, analyzing data to conclude, matching learning to a rubric with other anchor papers, or testing a hypothesis.
The critical solution as a takeaway is this: The meaning, purpose, and values students see in what they are learning will play the most significant role in the retention of learning, motivation to use the teaching, and the interest to continue to learn.
I had written before about excellent teachers who were the best storytellers to hook students into learning and those who were so creative! I believe in students being in charge of their knowledge as they lead themselves in goal setting and explaining where they are regarding the learning standards journey. Student lead conferences are the very best as students take charge of presenting their progress.
As you hold conversations with your team on what matters keep these questions in mind:
- What steps do you need to take to align learning measurement tools and practices in your classroom? School? District?
- Making these changes would impact students how?
- What measurements do you have in place? Do you utilize all of them, and how? Do some measure the same thing? Do you have too many, not enough, or not the correct measurements?
Keep in mind the title of the post. What Matters! Student Achievement is the purpose of education. Along with achievement are learning, discovering, asking, inquiry, and stretching minds. It is in finding the love of learning. In addition, it is the character, hopes, inspiration, relationships, understanding of acceptance, dealing with difficulty, mistakes, overcoming trauma, and so much more that matters. Life is complicated, and unfortunately, it starts young with all of its trials. Know your children, families, staff, and community. There are supports for what matters! If you need help finding them let me know. We will be the solution daily for what matters.
Today is a great day, to begin with posing a question with a question! Wait, I mean, pose a question. No, I mean, ask a question. Do you know what I mean?
You can both “ask” and “pose” a question, but the two words come with different meanings. To “ask” is a verb that means we’re seeking information (or, in this case, an answer to our question). “To pose” is a verb that means to pause, meaning that we’re waiting while people ponder the information we’ve put forward.
When we “ask” a question, we direct it at someone, in particular, expecting to answer. If we “pose” a question, we generally throw it out for others to think about and respond later.
If I ask you what 2+2=, you will be able to give me an answer pretty quick. However, if I pose the mathematical question differently, it may be harder to answer without thought. An example like this: Simple addition problems are easy to calculate; how do we add up what it takes to be happy?
It is Monday, Daylight Savings time why are we so full of questions?
“Monday motivation helps moments turn into memorable memories!”
Be the solution daily! Discover today what the future holds! Could you make it happen? Yes, you can!