Do people ask you for advice?
What would you do if?
I have a question to ask if you were in this situation, what would you do?
When people are seeking your opinion on what you would do, do they want to know, or have they already made up their minds on what they would do and hope you are going to validate them?
- Individual asking for advice.
- When people ask for advice, it is a slippery slope. This is usually when I like to ask more questions than provide answers. Seeking to understand is the best approach always. Providing questions helps everyone with clarification and looking at situations from different lenses. Ask questions
- Talk and point out positives
- Please do not make it about you, but share stories when needed, so they feel comfortable and not alone.
- Offer support and help
- Discuss options
- You do not want to lead them to a solution when they have not provided you with all the details and thoughts. You may answer to leave their spouse, and they do not want to do this.
- Can you think of additional ideas?
Making difficult decisions is something leaders do daily. People are always watching, judging, deciding, and looking at how all of the actions are carried out. How you respond to every situation is a piece of evidence to gather on the reaction time, emotional response, and lack of response.
Have you ever told someone information you considered concerning and essential to discuss? I am sure we have all experienced when we needed to be heard and, most importantly, understood. You have built up the courage to have the discussion and then a nonresponse. What did you do? What would you do?
- Information you need to share and be understood by your boss, but you receive no response.
- Get straight to the point-Leaders do not have a lot of time so make it direct and to the point respectfully.
- Make sure it captures their attention.
- Record yourself in a presentation form with the information you need to present and send in an email
- Follow up with hand-delivering the printed slides.
- Schedule a lunch meeting.
- Ask the secretary to find a good time to get a meeting scheduled.
- Look at your timing. We don’t always know everything that is going on so it could be the wrong time.
- Can you think of any other ways?
I have asked for advice, provided guidance, pleaded with bosses to hear my voice and understand my message. Through all of these stages, I have learned a critical fact for everyone to take away to use as what I would do: Authenticity is the best way as you approach consistent with your core values and beliefs. Being the solution daily is founded on authentic core values.
Is it better to know all of the answers or some of the questions? Take my poll on LinkedIn, Twitter or just comment. We will find out your answer to this question and why I asked the question this week. Intriguing!
How do you approach finding solutions?
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.
The problem-How do we develop a sense of efficacy, confidence in accomplishing meaningful impact?
The solution-The identified keys to establishing educator success
Key 1: Collective Efficacy
Educators in a school need to believe they can positively affect student learning. Individual teachers can think their efforts are helping and are working with the children they are serving, but if they do not believe in their co-workers, the collective efforts will fail.
Collective teacher efficacy is “the perceptions of teachers in a school that the efforts of the faculty as a whole will have a positive effect on students” (Goddard, Hoy, & Woolfolk Hoy, 2000). Building on earlier studies of individual teacher efficacy, research on collective teacher efficacy further investigated the effects of teachers’ perceptions of their collective capacity to improve learning experiences and results for their students. Schools are under pressure to succeed, and educational research seeks what factors contribute to student success. We know by Professor John Hattie’s research that collective efficacy is ranked at 1.57 effect size. A school that believes it can make a positive impact is an essential element to the overall well-being of all.
Key 2: Educator Agency
Educators with a strong sense of professional (educator) agency in their lives believes they can achieve their goals. Teachers act purposefully and constructively to direct their professional growth and contribute to the development of their colleagues.
As we have had disruptions to school, added stress, and fatigue, we need to find ways to help our educators rebuild, refuel and reconnect. The focus to support “educator agency” looks at collaboration, feedback, and spotlighting success. We need “adult learning” during professional learning community time, feedback that fuels our teaching energy and celebrating the achievements.
Key 3: Sustainability
The conditions needed in the school setting for collective efficacy to existing according to researcher Jenni Donohoo (2017), are:
- Including teachers in school-wide decision making
- Finding consensus on collective goals
- Understanding colleagues work
- Finding alignment on educational philosophy
- Responsive leadership
- Effective systems of intervention
Teachers must feel empowered to take risks. They need to feel comfortable to grow in their practice and to understand not all classrooms have to look the same. The school environment is working towards common goals.
The key factor in the solution is to value staff and to let them be heard. Staff needs support and affirmation, but they need to see evidence in their work. We need to support them in effective practices and providing them with reliable evidence of the impact they are having.
We have continuous work to do to be the solution daily for those we serve.
“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Did someone inspire you to be where you are today in your career or life? I reflect over mine and can identify several points of time where individuals inspired me, encouraged me, and pushed me—so blessed by each one.
“Mark Cole began his career working for John Maxwell 21 years ago. It was an inauspicious start for the man who would go on to be Chief Executive Officer of The John Maxwell Company and his nine organizations.” Mark started in the mailroom.
Bill Dodd shared a great post that follows along with my philosophy of solution-focused leadership. You can read the post about Mark Cole by clicking on his picture below. I pulled from the article the Four Questions all leaders must ask and How to view Leadership Problems. I added my idea of How to be Solution-Focused.
4 Questions All Leaders Must Ask
- When is the last time I learned something for the first time?
- When is the last time I did something for the first time?
- When is the last time I found something better for the first time?
- When is the last time I saw something bigger for the first time?
How To View Leadership Problems
- P – Predictors are a picture of what type of person you are.
- R – Reminders that life is tough. Leadership is demonstrated under challenging times.
- O – Opportunity will make you and other people better.
- B – Blessings. Problems sometimes point you in a more beneficial direction.
- L – Lesson. What did I learn from this problem?
- E – Everywhere. Even before COVID, problems were everywhere.
- M – Message. In every problem, there is a takeaway.
- S – Solvable. Every problem has a solution.
How to be Solution-Focused
- Seeking first to answer “why.”
- Observations of what has been done before, what is happening now, and what is working
- Listen to all possible solutions
- Use the best solution selected by the team
- Try the solution selected, track, assess, and evaluate
- Implement a different solution if the first one did not have the desired outcome
- Open-mindedness brings many ideas to the solution
- Never believe a problem is without a solution
People who have a leadership mindset love solving problems. Every problem is an opportunity to learn and grow. Real leaders know there’s always an answer. Most of the time, there are multiple answers. When you focus first on solutions, we will get more solutions. After spending time on generating ideas for solutions, save them for your next brainstorming session?
COVID taught us to take problems and solve them. If we keep looking at problems, we will keep getting more. COVID does not seem to be going away and continues to be one of those topics that will generate a great deal of debate. Our debate should only be on ideas for solutions.
If you are in the teaching profession today, why? Why did you become a teacher? Most likely, you have a vision of individuals who inspired you to dive into this profession. It is the inspiration that often leads us into the lifelong career paths we find ourselves in today.
Jennifer Gonzalez at Cult of Pedagogy is one of the thought leaders I have followed for several years. I utilized her website/blogs as part of my new teacher mentoring program and, as a principal, sent her tips out in messages to staff.
The piece I am sharing today is comprehensive and follows my philosophy of being the solution daily. Often we identify problems, talk about them, stare at them, and they continue to thrive. Action steps involving change are the catalysts for actual solutions.
As a leader, I have never been offended by her posts. She is straightforward, has strong opinions, and you can judge for yourself if you want to view more. Please take a little time to read her post. It is powerful to me.
As a teacher who worked countless hours then as an administrator, clocking in, even more, I relate to the feeling of exhaustion! I did all my work before COVID, so I know I would not have survived. Blessings to all of our educators!
Solutions are always my focus; however, trauma and social-emotional needs became more of the center of my practice after 2010. I always focused on the needs of others, but my personal experience provided me with a more in-depth and enhanced view.
I have always had two rules in my philosophy to school, but also two foundational learning practices are added as well. The two learning practices are social-emotional-learning and trauma-informed. Currently, we are dealing with the trauma of a global pandemic, and the effects are not touching only our students but our staff, families, and communities.
Always remember everyone has a story to tell. Build relationships so all feel safe, heard, understood and building skills to understand all of the “how-to” in relationships.
If you have ideas, thoughts, questions or need support with an issue you are facing please send me a message. My purpose is to provide support, solutions and strategies. One of the things I want people to know about me if you do not already know me is, my generosity. I give away more and more. I have always done this and I always will. Giving to others is important to me. I am working hard to create more free resources for you.
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.
In 2021 there were at least 82 incidents of gunfire on school grounds resulting in 21 deaths and 47 injuries nationally, according to Google. This is the count from my search on September 27, 2021.
New York Times headline on September 24, 2021, reads A Partial List of Mass Shootings in the United States in 2021. The shootings never stopped during the coronavirus pandemic; they just became less public, researchers say. Written by Daniel Victor and Derrick Bryson Taylor
The debates always come down to the guns. However, we have looked at this problem so long we consistently fail to see the solutions.
“Students who commit shootings in K-12 schools are more likely to have a long history of rejection and lack a sense of belonging than are mass shooters in college and adult settings—but they are less likely to have experienced a sudden breakup or showed bad behavior that can serve as a red flag for administrators.” Education Week, September 8, 2021, A Hallmark of School Shooters: Long History of Social Rejection by Sarah D. Sparks
The Journal of Social Psychology, which compared the characteristics of 57 shootings on K-12 campuses with 24 college shootings and 77 mass shootings in other places since 2001, concluded the results provided in the article. In addition, it is reported there have been 15 reports of on-campus school shootings since the start of this school year.
The problem-we are failing to provide solutions to our mental health services, relationship building to support feelings of belonging and self-worth. We have placed social workers, school psychologists and even contracted with outside agencies to add additional help, but we are still not meeting the needs.
The ratio to the need and the trained staff exceeds disproportionately. Then when you look at the community resources, the need is extremely high compared to the availability of services or extended-care facilities.
In my career, I worked closely with those helping to provide the services needed to the community we served. Each year the needs seemed to grow, and resources shrunk. After I left my school setting, it was not long that I heard a news report of a young teen female stabbing a man to death in a housing project.
What is the solution?
- More mental health services
- Additional mental health resources
- Training for all serving in facilities with high needs (schools, Universities, Hospitals, Factories)
- Safety protocols
- Crisis training
- Regular check-ins
- Relationship building
- Clear communications
- Validation for all
- Inclusion and self-worth building activities
If I came to visit your place of work, could you introduce me to everyone by name and tell me about them?
Seeing my former boss reminded me of the relationship-building he did as people stopped by. He knew their name and stories about them. How validated they felt by the time they left.
One comment from one of his visitors was about loyalty. Loyalty is indeed built when individuals feel safe, respected, valued, and part of something.