Tag: #Teachers

Give it your best!

To gain high levels of learning we need commitment, focus and flexibility. It is the end of the year and if we have not yet captured our students commitment to learning, they have already missed so much. Why are we allowing it to continue? “It is too late, there is nothing I can do now to turn this around.” I have heard this before, my response always is: Give it your best!

Accepting to learn

We have to guide our students into accepting factors to move forward in the learning process. Even as adults, we need to revisit these steps to take to manage our level of learning.

  • Face challenges-do, do not avoid challenging situations or problems. Handle these first and work through them.
  • Making Mistakes is an essential part of the learning process. We need to learn from our mistakes and work through them to gain a complete understanding.
  • Accepting setbacks in our learning process. We will have setbacks along the learning journey. One glove does not fit all, and we all get to the finish line at different times.

Our traditional instructional strategies provide students with the opportunities to be consumers of the information supplied by the teacher. The pacing is already established, and the routines are based on not allowing for a different pattern of time to include other designs. Students become information receivers, problem getters, and answer givers. No time is set aside for reflection, analysis, questioning, or learning from mistakes or creation.

Role Play

My middle grandson is in first grade. He is an exceptional child and enjoys learning about everything. We were excited when we were asked if we could help him by making a cart for him, he could use to take to school for a social studies project. He was developing a business plan for items he would be selling to his classmates for a profit. Then he could also buy from his classmates as well.

Now I think he is pretty smart! After all, I am his grandmother, but his business plan so far sounds pretty good. He has no cost in the cart. Grandpa and I are using things we have here at home. We did have to buy a couple of things, but they were not much. He has his sister paint pictures of animals for him he will be selling. When she asked if she could have half of the profits from the sales of her paintings, he said no, that was not in the plan. He has stuffed animals donated by family members at no cost. His dad is going with him to help with the setup. He is in great shape for this social-studies project.

This hands-on project has engaged all students in learning about trade, managing money, business, marketing, etc. The teachers have done a great job creating an exciting project at the end of the year. The students will set up their stores and sell to each other next week. I will let you know how it goes. He is currently decorating his stand and making some final adjustments.

Adding value to learning and opportunities allows it to be more than superficial learning. Helping to see the purpose of learning can be an essential step in building the foundation for commitment and dedication.

Opportunities

Providing learning with choices, authenticity, connecting to purpose, and giving opportunities to apply new skills is a great way to help children share their best. So many teachers are creative in how they approach keeping students engaged and excited about learning.

Learning energies of students can help to build their persistence and instill the value of learning. They have opportunities to learn from errors, mistakes, and setbacks when they are provided with a safe place and can contribute freely and create. The best way to learn is when we students can use what they learn to teach others, solve real problems and provide solutions to issues. Learning opportunities are transformed as students are responsible for their learning.

Solution Weekly May 8-14, 2022

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the Mom’s

Wishing all of the mom’s today a special blessing. It is a day to celebrate those who have given us so much! My middle grandchild had a mother’s tea at school. He did a skit with a classmate for all of the mothers, all of the kids sang, he made a hat for his mom Kentucky Derby style, a little book and enjoyed the time with his mom. So special for both of them.

This week is full of great topics! What suggestions do you have for next week? Comment with topics you would like to discuss.

Give it Your Best!

Convincing students to give their best effort is a struggle all year, but at the end of the year it is even harder! We have to persist in the face of learning challenges, learn from mistakes and all of the setbacks causing a struggle.

To gain high levels of learning we need commitment, focus and flexibility. It is the end of the year and if we have not yet captured our students commitment to learning, they have already missed so much. Why are we allowing it to continue? “It is too late, there is nothing I can do now to turn this around.” I have heard this before, my response always is: Give it your best!

Lifting Learning

Learning happens at all levels, in all places at all times. How are we helping to lift learning in ourselves, others and working to ensure learning is an essential part of life? How do we see lifting learning works in your environment? What are ways we can improve?

Different Ways-Thinking

Thinking is what we need more of today! In whatever job you go into, you need to problem solve, think critically, make connections between different areas. There is not just one way to think, but many ways. When looking at a problem, we need to see the different ways we have to think to solve.

Flexibility and Engagement

Helping our students to engage in learning is essential to reaching the academic goals we establish and to meet the needs for their learning. Our flexibility of expectations can offer significant benefits to the learning environment, but not eliminating the high expectations. I am referring to the need of choices, providing students with a clear understanding of the “how” and “why” the expectations relate to them and “what” they can do.

Know yourself? Do you?

Several points in your life journey, you are asked or you reflect on who you are. When getting to know yourself you dig deep into the depths of your heart, soul and core in an honest search. This is done in an accepting way as you look at past experiences, areas of strengths and weaknesses. We have to remember to also take time to forgive during this time. Forgiving ourselves and others helps us to move forward.

Dirt on the Window

Our vision can be clouded for many reasons. It is up to us to step back and reflect on the “why” of the situation. Turn to the guidance you need in the right place. What do I mean by this statement?

We seek guidance from others, but those we seek from may not always have our best interest as a priority. We have to take rugged looks at those we surround ourselves with to understand the actual value they bring to our lives. Surround yourself with those who will shout your praises to everyone publicly and are genuine in their support for your success.

My faith is my strength, and God directs my guidance. I surround myself with so many who have the same level of faith I do. If you look at the leadership of those I admire the most; you will find a strong faith at the center of who they are.

Jon Gordon is at the top of my list, as you know from following my blog. If you do not already follow, please do! If you are not connected with me on LinkedIn, Twitter @BrendaYoho, or Website, please do! If you would like to win one of Jon Gordon’s new books, The Sale, give me a like and comment on why you want to win! I will hold a live drawing to win these books! Please do not wait. I want to get these books into your hands so you can experience this great wisdom to share with others!

Hidden Blessings- Lesson 5 Blindspots

Lesson 5: Blindspots exist. You must get connected.

Many of us say: Get connected, utilize networking, talk with peers and join groups to gain insights. However, you cannot do all of it! If you try to be active on every social platform, you will not be present for essential parts of life. Being connected does not mean multiple devices.

I am not a perfect leader and have gained a great deal of knowledge over the past decades. I am still learning! I still have significant influences in my life I can seek out to guide me when needed. I do continue to reach out to meet new people and continue to expand my network.

Getting to know others personally is the best way. Getting likes and comments on posts on social media is engaging, but having honest conversations takes it to the next level. Deeper conversations help to find real solutions and understanding.

Maybe it makes sense to join a mastermind that Danny offers at Better Leaders Better Schools. He would love a chance to serve you and live out his mission “to connect, grow, and mentor every school leader who wants to level up.” Maybe you want to grab his book and begin an online group to share thoughts, have a Mastermind group in your area, or you may have other ideas. His take on professional development is as easy as ABC.

ABC’S of Powerful Professional Development

  • Authenticity
  • Belonging
  • Challenge

Learn more about the ABC’s from Daniel Bauer author of Mastermind, Unlocking the Talent in Every School Leader. https://www.betterleadersbetterschools.com

When you integrate authenticity, belonging, and challenge into a professional development program, anything is possible, including eliminating blind spots. Blind spots in leadership according to Robert Bruce Shaw, author of Leadership Blindspots, are unrecognized weaknesses or threats that can hinder a leader’s success. As leaders we may not know our weaknesses. Weaknesses aren’t likely to derail us from our goals. However, those we are unaware of are the dangerous ones.

Blindspots

  1. Going it alone (being afraid to ask for help)
  2. Being insensitive of your behavior on others (being unaware of how you show up)
  3. Having an “I know” attitude (valuing being right above everything else)
  4. Avoiding difficult conversations (conflict avoidance)
  5. Blaming others or circumstances (playing the victim; refusing responsibility)
  6. Treating commitments casually (not honoring the other person’s time, energy, resources)
  7. Conspiring against others (driven by a personal agenda)
  8. Not taking a stand (lack of commitment to a position)
  9. Tolerating “good enough” (low standards for performance)

Are any of the above Blindspots hitting you?

As leaders, we need to choose to identify blind spots, actively work on them and learn to overcome them. This helps everyone and impacts the experiences of everyone.

Evaluating behavior is challenging. When you are considering your own, it is more complicated. You need to be able to have different lenses looking at it. Keep these ideas in mind:

  • Seeking help from another lens. Get another individual (Coach, Mentor, School Administrator Manager, Secretary) who can help you get a feedback assessment completed by those who work with you for a better perspective.
  • Be prepared for feedback. Accept feedback constructively. Set aside emotions and egos. Look for common themes.
  • Appreciate the help. It isn’t easy to receive feedback that identifies Blindspots, but it is also challenging to provide it. Individuals who give constructive feedback are trying to help. While you will always have some who are just trying to hurt you, most want you to be the best you can be.
  • Routines create comfort. We are blind to the things around us when we become set in comfort routines. Having things done our way, how we engage others, how we react to issues, run our meetings, or support our employees become habbits. When they are not good ones, we need to make significant changes.
  • Take action by priority. Give importance to these leadership behaviors! Become better at them and continue to review, reflect and renew! When you get better, so does everyone else!

I do not think we can ever eliminate all of our blind spots; we are human. It is part of human nature to have these happen. However, we can routinely focus our efforts to self-reflect and monitor ourselves to become exceptional leaders. If we do nothing, the Blindspots will grow in their strength, and our employees will lose faith in our abilities.

The leader in you is ready to always grow! I am always here to support! We need you! Prioritize your plan for the Hidden Blessings as you work to be better today than yesterday and to continue to grow.

Hidden Blessings- Lesson 4 Reap what you sow

Lesson 4: You reap what you sow.

When I was growing up, my mother and father were known for their giant garden. We were a small family, so why raise this kind of garden?

The lesson they taught me is about the work you put into serving others which brings you the most profound love. I was no lover of vegetables, but I helped take care of the garden when I could. Then I would watch as my mother shared these vegetables with others. The joy reflected in her face always made me happy as well.

My parents were loved by so many, and they told them often. When they passed, people came to share stories with us, and we could remember how much they enjoyed the gift of giving to others. The feedback we received matched precisely to who they were. All feedback does not reflect the true you.

“It would have been easy for me to accept my supervisor’s judgment of my leadership skills and worth. But her words didn’t align with the feedback I was getting everywhere else.”-Daniel Bauer, author of Mastermind, Unlocking Talent Within Every School Leader

It is difficult for a leader to receive mixed messages. When you have many voices speaking to you, it is hard to cut through the noise to hear the voice of reason truly. You have to step back and make hard choices to regain your footing, adjust yourself and take chances. Being self-aware, developing confidence, and remaining true to your core values will always see you through.

“The seeds you plant will one day harvest. The fruit will be positive or negative, so be mindful of what you plant. You are planting every day with your words and actions.”-Daniel Bauer. We have such power in our words and actions. People do not realize this power. We have choices in everything we do. “As you care less about what people think of you, you will care more about what others think of themselves.”-Stephen Covey

Look at every situation, both positive and negative, as an opportunity. They are all part of growth. Each one provides lessons, ways to improve, and an idea to expand on to move forward. As Danny stated, “The seeds you plant will one day harvest.” Just like my parents and the garden, it takes daily work. These seeds need much care to reach their full potential, and you have to pull the weeds in the garden, so the seeds have room to reach out.

What happens to leaders who are pushed out of their positions? What do they do next? It is all about choices. It took Danny a year to believe the false narrative, and it interfered with his life. Then he was able to pull back the curtain to see his truth. I took a little longer. My injuries, age, and stubbornness got in my way. I have to say; I still have triggers due to injuries. Danny has accomplished so much, and I am slowly working my way each day to serve others better.

Hidden Blessings needs

  • Take the advice of Brené Brown- Develop a square squad (a group of people who are willing to tell you truthful feedback no matter what!) (Lesson 1)
  • Remember to follow your true north (Lesson 2)
  • Obstacles are opportunities (Lesson 3)
  • Let your words, actions, and work speak. (Lesson 4)
  • Connecting, Networking, Developing, Building solid relationships with other leaders. (Lesson 5)

If you are not following Daniel Bauer, he is a great one to connect with to help with building a professional community. I have always been with Illinois Principals Association. Follow my blog, connect with me at http://www.linkedin.com/in/brendayoho or on Twitter @BrendaYoho

Seeking to get back or create additional disruption serves no purpose. We choose our reaction to our situation and respond in how we want to take action when we are ready. It does not matter the time-frame only that you are able to continue to move forward.

Hidden Blessings Lesson 3-Obstacle

Lesson 3: The obstacle is the way.

Blessings find us when we are ready to see them. We often miss them because we are busy looking in the wrong places or focusing on the “problem” we see. Danny and I find we have things in common, but we are not alone. Many leaders face similar obstacles, issues, problems, or challenges. Danny took a year to discover how to release from his issue, and it took me three years.

“It took nearly a year to flip my mindset from seeing Houston as a failure to counting it as a blessing. I was obsessed with proving my supervisor (and those pressuring her) wrong. I felt like I had something to prove. Somehow I had to even the score. I was wronged. I wanted to make things right somehow. What a terrible burden to carry for a year, and I am lucky to have put that burden down after a year!”-Daniel Bauer

Danny shared this story of two monks who were on their way back to their monastery. As part of their religious training they vowed to never come into contact with a woman.

“And on their way home to the monastery, they happened to come across a woman who needed assistance crossing a river.

The two monks were headed in the same direction, so the older of the two monks asked the woman if he could assist. He did so by picking her up and helping her cross the water.

The monks continued their journey in silence …

Hours went by and their journey was coming to an end. The monastery was on the horizon. The younger monk was visibly irritated and broke his silence.

He said, “Brother, how could you violate your vow to never touch a woman? I am so disappointed with you and don’t understand.”

The older monk said, “Brother, I put the woman down hours ago. Why are you still holding her?”

Grudges, vendettas, and other burdens do not serve you.”

Carrying negative experiences forward with you from the past is never healthy. After reflecting, Danny could see how this negative event closed a door for him, but another one opened. He would never have taken the chances he did, written his book or accomplished all he has if he had not been pushed to a different path.

My journey was a little different, I did resign, but it was three years later. Our bodies react to the stress in our lives. When it is compounded and not resolved, significant changes can occur. I was at that point in my life.

After inquiring with my teacher retirement system per my doctor’s request, to ask about reducing hours, the boss takes action, but not the kind you expect. I had attempted to speak to my boss about my issues, but communication with me was not a priority.

A few days later, in my office entered, my boss and one of her assistants relocated my secretarial staff, closed the door, and began to ask questions. My boss speaks, the other takes notes, then tells me I will need to work from home. I am told to gather up my things, and they walk me out.

Now to those peeking out the windows, the message sent to all is that I was walked out of my office and sent home. People believe in their minds I have done something wrong. In my heart, I am feeling the same way. I do not hear any words spoken, only my heart beating faster. Five days later, I received a letter that the Board of Education had placed me on medical leave. Wow, I thought in shock again. No one has asked to talk to me. Why? There is nothing on file to indicate I was not doing my job. My accident happened in 2010, and my unexpected departure in 2018. I am so sorry to those I left with no goodbyes or explanations. Three years passed, and no contacts.

My health has improved since leaving the position, and my diagnosis will never change from 2010. The label I worked hard to overcome, they placed on me without a blink of an eye. The leader decided to handle this situation in this manner, their way. Like my post on September 28, 2021, called Hook, line, and sinker, they bought it with fractions of information and not complete facts.

We move on until we are reminded—a story in the paper, a post on social media, or a picture. Sometimes it is a date on the calendar that takes you back to the day life changed for you and those close to you. Then you remember “what matters most” is helping others, sharing, lifting, listening, and always finding the time to be there when they need you the most! Be the solution daily to change the negatives to positives as you are the light to brighten the darkness. You can move on no matter the circumstance. You always have the power to control the action steps you take. Remember, you do not have to prove anything to anyone, be happy with yourself. Moving on isn’t always what it seems to others, but the truth is all you need. Always move forward with eyes lifted and praise the one who guides you through.

“As you care less about what people think of you, you will care more about what others think of themselves.” -Stephen Covey

“It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us. Of course, things can hurt us physically or economically and cause sorrow. But our character, our basic identity, does not have to be hurt at all. In fact, our most difficult experiences become the crucibles that forge our character and develop the internal powers, the freedom to handle difficult circumstances in the future and to inspire others to do so as well.”-Stephen Covey

Hidden Blessings-Lesson 2 “True North”

Lesson 2: No matter what, follow your “true north.”

Daniel Bauer shares his philosophy. It is your core values that drive who you are and maintain your focus on what you want to achieve.

“I have a personal philosophy: Be an intentional impetus. I have five personal core values:

  • Turning Pro
  • Purple Cow
  • Ripple Effect
  • Forest from the Trees
  • Sponge that Scales

I have worked hard to identify these values and my philosophy. They act as a personal Obi-Wan Kenobi. In times of success, they remind me to celebrate being true to my values.”-Daniel Bauer

Do you have a personal philosophy? What about your core values? If you do not have them or are unsure, it is time to solidify them. It isn’t easy to stay the course if you do not have a solid foundation. How do you know your direction or your “true north” with uncertainty?

My Two Rule Philosophy is a foundation I utilize to help students understand the power they have with choice. Once you know you have the ability, you need to realize with power comes great responsibility and accountability. This leads to developing the five core competencies that help grow their ownership into disciplined individuals with balance. The competencies support social-emotional learning as well as building academic growth. Students’ self-discipline develops naturally as they regulate their actions with the choices they make. They align all of this with their established goals, reflected in their day-to-day activities.

Five Core Competencies

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-management
  3. Social-awareness
  4. Relationship Skills
  5. Making Decisions (Responsible, Positive, Solution-Focused)

As for my core values and philosophy, I can confidently express them with ease and clarity.

I am a service leader striving to help others daily. I intend to find ways to provide solutions, guide in developing skills, and inspire, motivate and supply resources. My core beliefs are my faith, hope, integrity, and trust. I believe in all, I never give up on others, and I give more than I hope to receive. The team is how I work best, and I always want more opinions. Providing value to others, celebrating everything, and always looking for positives are what I love best! It is when we have gratitude; what we have is just enough.

Check out Leading at a Higher Level by Ken Blanchard. He is one of my all time favorite leaders. His work will inspire you, make you think and help guide you.

Develop your leadership point of view? What is a leadership point of view?-a leader’s personal elevator pitch—is the essential message a leader wants to communicate to the world. A leadership point of view reflects your journey, values, goals, and expectations of others. Write one out to see what you have.

Hidden Blessings-Lesson 1 Feedback

I want to give credit to Daniel Bauer for the five lessons I will share. In these lessons, I will share my input as well. We will cover them in several steps. These are the Lessons he shared in his email:

Lesson 1: All feedback isn’t quality feedback.

  • Lesson 1: All feedback isn’t quality feedback.
  • Lesson 2: No matter what, follow your “true north.”
  • Lesson 3: The obstacle is the way.
  • Lesson 4: You reap what you sow.
  • Lesson 5: Blindspots exist. It would be best if you got connected.

“Brené Brown talks about the square squad. It’s a simple idea: write all the names representing people whose opinions you value on one-inch by one-inch piece of paper. You can’t fit many names on this size of paper. That’s the point. As a leader, many people will offer their opinions and judge your choices. So what. Most of their opinions don’t matter, even when that person is your supervisor! That said, your supervisor’s opinion can (and will often) impact your job. But that doesn’t make their feedback accurate or helpful. You don’t need to take it to heart.”-Daniel Bauer, author of MasterMind, Unlocking Talent Within Every School

Danny begins by referring to Brené Brown. She has dedicated several pieces to conversations of feedback. Hard conversations are never easy. I have said many times, doing the dance! We can choose the kind of dance style we want to set the tone of our conversations depending on the type of conversation, but in the end we have to give a big finish. What do we do after the feedback is provided?

“Weigh the feedback, and if it seems to “come out of nowhere” and is an outlier from the feedback you are receiving from other sources, please do not listen for your health! Trust the feedback you get from your square squad. Those people will challenge you and also want to see you succeed. The rest you can throw out, especially if it doesn’t align with the feedback you are receiving from trusted sources.”-Daniel Bauer

My life journey is full of many great experiences, beautiful celebrations, tragic losses, and challenges. It is like most lives, I believe. Our stories may contain different characters, twists, and storylines, but in the end, they equal lessons learned and blessings. At times, it may not look like it seems.

Danny received feedback from his supervisor consistently that was negative. What if you barely received feedback, it varied or when you were scheduled to receive it….the supervisor was a no show? What messages does this kind of feedback demonstrate?

The bottom line is your supervisor is in control of your evaluation and renewing a contract. Even if you dislike the feedback you are receiving, what do you do? In Danny’s case he resigned. In my case, it went a little different, but I did finally resign.

I have been known to bite off more than I can chew and take on more and more and….. I would say Okay instead of No way. For good reasons, it was for those I served: children, families, staff, and the community. Where resources were lacking, I wanted to find ways to fill them. I like to “fix everything” and always want to help others more than myself.

In 2010, I suffered the most horrific accident imaginable. It left me with a traumatic brain injury and a list of deficiencies. The accident included my daughter, granddaughter, and best friend. We all survived, and it was a miracle! My injuries were too much for me to accept, so I did not. I fought it for almost five years, approximately how long it takes for your brain to heal. I am thankful for my medical team, my bosses at the time, my supportive staff, my family, and most importantly, God for his healing.

Over the years, my diagnosis never changed. It has always remained the same. I met regularly with my medical team, and my medications stayed the same. The leadership in our district began to shift. When this occurred, I did fine at first, but the added duties continued to pile on, and the stress level increased. I was no longer kept in the loop, communications were not happening, and my medical team saw a significant change.

My body did not like this, and migraines hit hard. Blood Pressure increased to levels my doctor one day said, “You are at stroke level,” as they started an IV to treat the migraine and lower my blood pressure. Chest pains were the following symptom. Failure of the EKG testing resulted in calling in the cardiology team. Now I needed to make my boss aware.

I phoned my boss; the boss said come over to my office to talk. I arrived in less than five minutes, and the boss was a no-show. I asked the secretary where she was. Oh, she had to leave to pick up her son. Did she tell you she called me over to talk to her? No, I walked over to the Human Resource Director’s Office and explained what had happened. I told her I would text her to let her know I had come over as she asked. Then after I sent the text, she called.

“I will come back to talk to you if you need me to.” Oh, that is fine. I just wanted to let you know I had failed an EKG and now we were going to do some further testing, and they were taking me off all of my medications for now. Then nothing was ever mentioned again.

The story does not end there for Danny or me. What do you do in situations when you get feedback, no feedback, or feedback you do not understand?

Share about your experiences with feedback. You are receiving and Giving. Why is feedback important?