Tag: #questions

I missed the bus! Can I jump on your bandwagon?

I missed the bus is a phrase referring to being too slow to take advantage of an opportunity. In education, it was an excuse for being late to school, like the video attached to the word bus from 1992. Have you ever used that phrase?

Jumping on the bandwagon is another phrase used to join a movement or cause because it is trendy. “Everyone is doing it.” The phrase itself began back in 1848 when a circus clown named Dan Rice would use his wagon to take politicians around to conduct speeches to local people. The music coming from the wagon always attracted a crowd. Have you ever used this phrase?

These phrases may not be utilized as much today as they did in the past, but the concepts are still practiced. Leaders miss opportunities and jump on shiny new things when everyone else gets the popular item. Why do they do this? They are stretched thin and need to find quick results in a fast pace world. Many pressures are placed on our leaders to perform, meet the standards, and be better than all competitors.

As the leader of your organization, you have a great deal of responsibility. There is no more significant responsibility than taking care of those you serve. All of your team members need to know your vision, but most importantly, they need to know they can trust you. A solid foundation builds a team that knows who they are, what they are doing, and where. Our vision is our dream. What we want to achieve in the work we do is the culture created.

The culture of your environment is critical. The vision you have can be incredible, but a toxic environment can destroy it before you begin to build. Culture is how we work each day to move us forward to our vision. In our culture, this is where the actual work is done to make the vision clear for all to see.

What can you do as a leader? Let’s ask hard questions, design plans, and develop habits, processes, and purpose together. Which is more important to have a vision or a positive culture?

Vision and Culture-Both are needed

VISION

A vision is a cornerstone of the organization. It is a statement of what an organization would like to achieve in the future but is more than a goal. A vision inspires and connects employees to purpose. As leaders, we need to work together to develop a vision statement with clarity in decision making, help guide others, and make it part of our daily work. Today’s vision statements need to reflect the changes as we lead out of crisis and into the building.

CULTURE

Our culture is designed by what inspires us daily. It is our interactions together in working to achieve the vision, mission, and purpose. The core beliefs, values, and behaviors of the individuals within the organization reflect the culture. For a continuous improvement cycle to be in place, culture and vision are connected to gain purpose.

Everyone in our organization has to be all in on the vision we have and be actively participating in a positive culture to achieve the momentum needed to grow. Just like putting a puzzle together, when one piece is missing, it can not be completed. When you have one individual bringing negativity to the group and fighting against the group’s beliefs, pieces begin to pull apart.

Start your Phrase……

Jon Gordon has the Energy Bus. What can be yours? Do you need one to begin to develop what you need to lead out of a crisis and into building back the foundation for the vision and culture required to succeed? Be the Solution Daily in a world that needs you! No need for catchy phrases, just a solid foundation with core beliefs, a vision , and a design of how to get there. It is fun to think of names, phrases, and crazy ways to remember things. However, the importance of the work is what the focus needs to be on. It cannot be like it was, and we must decide what works now.

With the transitions to Covid from Covid and now additional issues facing us, we need to outline the needs in all areas to focus on our realities.

Fitting the puzzle pieces together

  • Identify all areas in your organization or company
  • What are the needs in each of these?
  • Prioritize the needs in each area.
  • Do we see common threads of need?
  • What are the top common threads?
  • Can we develop a plan to address the common threads of need?
  • How can the needs of the organization impact the service we provide?
  • Looking at the needs, how does it change, enhance or reflect our vision?

Now that we are looking at our needs, it is time to complete a deeper dive into a needs assessment. This is the best place to start when beginning to look at building a foundation for continued growth.

Just a basic format to begin to gather data on needs. Deeper dives as you go into specific areas, skills, departments, policies and procedures.

Can we work together to ask hard questions? Can we listen to all voices? I would like to have honest conversations about what we are facing. This isn’t easy because we will not all agree. Doing what is right is not what is easy; jumping on the bandwagon or missng the bus. It is in having the integrity of doing what is best for all of those involved and those we serve. Ken Blanchard, one of my favorite leaders, found that integrity is what everyone seeks out in leadership. Jon Gordon, another famous leader, has a fantastic book just released called The Sale along with his co-author Alex Demczak which is a tremendous tribute to learning about integrity. Please get your copy today. If you think you deserve to have a free copy from me, tell me what you gain from reading these blogs and how you share it with others. Please send me an email after you like the post at yohobren@gmail.com. Thanks for sharing time and space with me daily.

Why questions are important

Thank you to the few who responded to my poll asking: Which do you think is better when trying to find a solution to a problem? Is it better to know all of the answers or some of the questions?

There is still a few hours left of voting, but I think we can safely call it!

Questions seek to understand and clarify. Answers are formed responses often based on an opinion, surface information, and will need to be reevaluated once more information is provided. The best thing we can do is always teach how to ask questions!

Questioning is a form of curiosity I do not want to see lost in our world of education. Is there a correct answer? What is the question? How do you know it is right?

An article about why questions are more important is in the link below.

What questions do you have that could help find solutions and ideas? Maybe even more questions!

To sum it Up + to equal= growth

How old are you?

One of the subjects I have always hated is math. However, we use math all of the time in everything we do. If you look at the graph above, what information does it give you? What kind of data do you have? What do you do with your data? Let’s sum up data!

In every aspect of improvement, we find strategies in learning or tips to use and approaches to development. Math is utilized in numbering the steps to take, calculating performance, analyzing graphs, and so much more. Mathematics supports collecting data as we review, add, subtract, divide until we discover the growth in summing up our success. Formulas are developed to calculate the measurements to close gaps, support growth, and help to identify areas to focus on.

Numbers and percentages are essential keys in helping us unlock the doors to knowledge. If we pose the questions we need to answer; the answers often include a mathematical equation. Let’s try by asking some critical questions. If you do not know the right questions to ask, then getting the correct answers will not solve the issues you face.

*Currently, we have 75 staff members working for our team. How many have received the Covid-19 vaccination? Then this leaves the remaining staff unvaccinated and will not continue to work due to the mandates.

Your data will not speak if you do not ask the right questions to analyze. The question I just posed was a question in my subcommittee of a board I sit on. I have changed the numbers, but the question is genuine. We needed to know how many employees would not be working if the mandate did away with the option of testing each week. Just like other organizations, businesses, and schools, we are already short staff. If the number of people currently not vaccinated did not return to work, we would face closing programming possibly.

The point in gathering data is to do something with it! Action steps need to be formed to solve an issue, and it is utilized to guide solutions. To find the answer to our question asked, we take the current number of employees (75) subtract from this number (15), indicating the number of unvaccinated staff. Our work is not done yet. Then we dig deeper by breaking it down to departments, programs and look at the percentages of those being served who are affected by the reduction of staff. As you continue to focus and narrow to target your solution, action steps are developed.

Ask the right Questions

  • What do you need to know?
  • How will you ask the question?
  • Who is involved?
  • What data needs to be collected?
  • How will it be collected?
  • Most importantly, how will you disseminate findings?

Answers = Solutions

  • The right questions result in correct answers, =solutions
  • Collecting the correct data, narrowing to a targeted area, making action steps= solutions
  • Action steps, accountability, and continued evalution=solutions

To sum it up for us, add to your practice asking the right questions! Subtract from your formula anything that is not providing you with information not needed. Multiply your efforts in narrowing your focus to get the targeted results you desire. Divide the responsibility in working to solve the issues you face. Following these guidelines will equal positive impact and outcomes as we take action!

Input vs. Output

I have questions about the title of this post. Do you have more input or output in your day? In other words, are you receiving (input) information more than you are producing (output)? What are the sources of the information you receive?

Accountability has leaders focused on the source of output and making sure there is a high volume daily. Depending on the field of work, I question the quality of the volume of output measured by the input. Should leaders focus more on the input their staff is receiving?

I spend 60% of my day reading. What are the sources of this reading? I select books based on recommendations from other leaders, also from the organization I work with to help authors with book launches, blogs, podcasts, webinars, articles from professional organizations I belong to, emails, and my daily devotionals/bible. This input is valuable to me, but most importantly, it influences my thoughts.

I wrote a book about school improvement; it’s not good enough. My opinion! I took time to learn more about how to have a quality book, what the steps are, what do you need to do, know, and so many other things. I was gaining lots of input! During this seeking input time, I had opportunities to meet, listen to and gain wisdom. It is a blessing to have taken the time to do this and to write a new book.

Time is a non-renewable gift! I always say, “Unwrap today as a gift. It can not be returned, exchanged, or saved. Use the hours wisely.” The time I have spent on writing has provided me with healing, sharing, ways to serve a purpose, and opportunities to provide support to others.

Take aways

  • The quality of the work we do depends on the inputs of information we allow to influence us.
  • Output accountability should be measured on quality and not quantity.
  • Leaders can support individuals by providing quality resources for input.
  • Time is non-renewable!

Review your calendar, agenda, or schedule. How much time is allowed for input? As a leader, what are you providing to staff to enhance the quality of the input others are receiving? Remember, time is non-renewable! Make all communications quality and not just quantity!

Be the solution daily! Others count on the quality of your output to influence the input they receive!

My way, Your way, Our way….

I grew up really as an only child. My brother and sister are 16 and 17 years older than me, respectively. I have always said I was a gift from God to make sure someone could help this family.

My siblings, especially my sister, did lots of things with me. I think I was like a doll. The best adventure I can recall was going to see Elvis Presley in concert. I loved his music, but I was more fascinated by the way grown women were acting. So exciting to watch! He did it his way!

Watching my grandchildren play, I learned a great lesson. They span in age from three years, six years, and 13 years old. The two younger boys play together and are not always easy to handle. Their sister is quick to help settle disputes and monitor the playtime.

While vacationing at the beach, everyone found their place. Each one has a special interest in what they wanted to do. There were enough adults that each child had one to help them in whatever they wanted to do.

When they decided to play together after having their time, the conversations were so interesting.

“Hey, look, I found a purple-colored shell. Would you want it?”

“Yes, thanks!”

“Do you want me to help you find more shells?”

Fantastic how they were working together to collect shells. Now it lasted a short time as you know, attention spans do not last long and brothers, well are boys.

We took the shells back to the house to sort, identify and talk about them. We like to do art projects and make things; this is what they do with me. They each had a container to place their shells in, and all was good.

How does your team work together on projects? As a leader, do you begin with your way of approaching the task or situation? Are there opportunities to identify and sort out target points? Can individuals discuss freely and offer ideas?

In dealing with finding solutions, it is essential to have all voices heard and illustrate possible solutions. People need to see, hear, talk, and sometimes “touch”(move items) to understand the process.

If the solution is “my way,” the problem will stay. It stays because, most likely, I am the only one who believes in the solution. The same is true if the solution is “your way,” which most likely comes from the loudest one. It should be “our way,” providing ownership from all.

Think about the structures of your problem-solving teams. How do you handle issues that come up? Do you have a process to follow? Who is involved in making decisions and finding solutions?

Thank you for being the solution daily! It takes each of us working together focused on solutions.

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.

Wednesday Wonders…

The final school bell for 2021 has rung for most of our students. Students have their final report cards but do we wonder how all of our schools did? What about education?

  • How did all of the students across our nation do in 2021?
  • How did the schools and districts do for our students?

The importance of education is essential for all of our students as we grow. The expertise to help all children is available to us. It is not found in a particular program or a defined environment. The success is found in the expertise in the experience of all of those serving children.

  • It is the data and research collected to utilize in decision making
  • Identifying strategies and procedures that worked to focus on enhancing instruction
  • Having curiosity and willingness to continue learning to enhance the quality of offerings for students
  • A reminder kids are kids no matter where they live, the color of their skin, the challenges they face, or the disabilities. Each one can, will, and wants to learn.

The key to opening the door to expertise is sharing. Opening this door is the hardest thing for educators to do. We chase shiny objects as a quick fix, the grant dollars need us to spend money on programs, there is no time for this and the list continues.

Narratives dictate the focus of what education is focusing on. Society influences what is to be focused on in education instead of what is truly needed. Education needs to remember the priority of what they do. Our children deserve our focus on the foundation of their needs not the political agenda of the day. Education is not something to play around with but a critical piece of a child’s life and everyone’s future.

Be the solution by standing up for education! I wonder if people will begin to understand how important this is today. We have no time to waste! Speaking of time, my granddaughter shared with me how many of her friends cannot tell time. She says, “they really don’t teach time anymore.” Oh, she was just finishing 7th grade. Also, they don’t teach cursive writing, but we teach time and writing at home.

Change the glasses you are looking through for a moment and see the future. If we do not raise the bar on the quality of our education our nation will fall further behind others. Be the solution daily as we support education.

What wonders do you have about education? I have more, but what are yours? There are many other wonders for me in the world and we will continue to look at them.

Why? This is a question I ask daily

I keep myself sheltered as much as possible from daily negativity. It is never good for anyone’s health to keep negative influences in your life daily. However, it would help if you kept yourself informed of current events to support others and yourself.

Statistics of the number of violent incidents, shootings, and crimes are on the rise. It is a regular news item that people become used to, I think; why?

“Deadliest weekend of the year in Chicago: 12 killed, 42 wounded in shootings”-Sun-Times, Chicago. May 24, 2021

“6-Year-Old Costa Mesa Boy Dies In Road Rage Shooting On 55 Freeway In City Of Orange” -CBSLN May 21,2021

“4-Year-Old Boy Found Dead on Dallas Street Was Sleeping When He Was Stolen Out of His Crib, Affidavit Says”-Inside Edition May 19,2021

I took just a few headlines from the news that stopped me. I froze when reported. No words could come to add anything to these incidents.

My solution for these continued acts of violence on our communities across our nation is this:

  • Start with the question, why? It is not because we have guns. Discuss why someone would want to cause harm or kill another person.
  • Why are people angry? In your discussions, ask this question. Think about how we got to the point of so much anger. It is not because of races, places, spaces or faces. It is about human relations! When we teach division, we get division. We have worked hard on bringing people together, and now we are pushing them apart.
  • Where do people belong in your community? Do you know the people in your neighborhood? What do they need to lift themselves up? We do not need to be enablers but teachers. “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed himfor a lifetime.”
  • In the home is where we can help. Families today have a great deal on their plates. Find ways not to judge, not to be enabling but supportive. Discover what is needed a help them establish these needs.

Action Steps

  • Mental health services available in the community: make these part of your organization’s space, promote a partnership, place positive messages that it is okay!
  • Stop dividing people! No more talk about race, gender, or who you are as an individual to divide us. We will not keep making individuals feel like there is something wrong with them based on their skin color, gender, or who they are. It is the content of their character that defines them. The story written on their heart they portray to the world is “who they are.” I will not spend my life being a color but an individual focused on solutions for all human races.
  • “Won’t you be my neighbor” comes from a time when TV provided children with a daily dose of how to deal with society changes? Currently, there are not many opportunities for children to receive this messaging. As a community, establish a community group. Work as a group to determine needs. What can you do together to support each other?
  • As an organization, establish a community group. Invite businesses, community organizations, police departments, schools, and neighborhood groups together.
  • Generate a list of community needs.
  • Establish committees
  • Action plans/timelines
  • Necessary to keep this statement fresh in front of all members: Families love their children and are doing a great job with all they have to care for them. It is up to us to help lift them up to continue to serve with more. We are not enablers but providers of additional tools.

I am happy to help anyone with tackling this with your organization or school. We all have to make this a priority in order to move forward together in healing a nation from a pandemic with aftershocks. Be the solution daily for a brighter tomorrow.

Always learning

“Mom, can you pick up the kids at school on Thursday for me? Just bring them and meet me at my school so I can get them to their practice. Alex is going to get Alden from his school.”

I love every chance I get to be with the grandchildren. They are the best! Abram is the first one out and in the car. We go through our usual greetings and begin our conversation about how the day was at school.

Abram is not a typical kindergarten student, in my opinion. In fact, I would say he is one of a kind. He explains in detail all of the learning taking place in his classroom. Abram tells me about all of the long vowel sounds, the words they are learning, and the difference in the sounds of short and long vowel sounds. He moves onto math when we see his sister Aubrey trying to spot our car.

Aubrey joins in the conversation, but being in middle school, she does not have the details her brother was eager to share. Then Abram makes the best aha statement as a lesson for all in the car!

“You know when I am in my classroom; I raise my hand all of the time even if I am not sure of the answer. Other kids don’t raise their hands. I think even if I get it wrong, I am still learning, and you should always try.”

Aubrey was shaking her head, no. People will make fun of you when you are my age.

Abram, they shouldn’t because everyone is learning. You should always ask questions and try to answer them. I am going to do that all of the time. I like learning.

The influence of others has an impact on how we respond to situations. Aubrey has changed schools several times. She has only been at this school for a short time. It isn’t easy to establish yourself in a community school when kids have been together for years, and you are the new kid. She is working towards building confidence, but she is not there yet.

Abram started school new like everyone else. Plus, as I started, he is unique. He can analyze every situation and come up with his version of a solution. I am not going to say it is always right, but he is never afraid to try. He says, “Hey guys, I have an idea.”

I am so thankful for the excellent teachers they have and have had in their educational journey. They are both exceptional students who feel comfortable with their teachers and administrators. It is a beautiful blessing to have positives when you hear terrible stories of teachers. The news makes you think all teachers are doing a terrible job. Well, I know so many that are doing an exceptional job!

Encourage questions, praise risk-taking, allow innovative solutions and creativity. We do not want our children to be answers getters but solution seekers. Lift them to seek out more in learning than just getting an answer correct.

“MooMoo, how do they make shoes?” (Yes, my grandchildren call me MooMoo it is a long story, but my husband started the name thing. It’s okay. Unique, just like them!)

I am not sure which shoes you are talking about because they all use different materials. Let’s investigate and do some research!

Be the solution daily by being present in the moments to help them grow in many ways! Thank you for all you do!