Embark on a transformative journey of personal growth as we delve into the profound impact of the Two Rules philosophy on cultivating essential life skills. This philosophy serves as a guiding light, illuminating the path towards not just personal development but also a robust foundation for success.
At the core of the Two Rules philosophy is an emphasis on social awareness—an awareness that extends beyond oneself to the broader community. By navigating the intricacies of these principles, individuals embark on a journey of self-discovery that intricately weaves into the fabric of social dynamics. The philosophy prompts introspection and a heightened sensitivity to the impact of one's actions on others.
One of the cornerstones of personal growth is effective decision-making, and the Two Rules philosophy stands as a beacon in this regard. As individuals explore the intricacies of these two rules — "Will this contribute positively to my or others' well-being?" and "Will this foster a sense of safety for myself and others?" — they unlock the keys to making informed and constructive choices. This process not only builds resilience but also hones the ability to navigate life's complexities with a thoughtful and proactive approach.
Embracing the Two Rules philosophy lays the groundwork for a strong foundation, providing individuals with the tools to navigate the challenges of the modern world. The journey involves not just acquiring knowledge but applying it in a way that fosters personal growth and contributes positively to the collective well-being. As we explore the multifaceted impact of the Two Rules philosophy, we unravel a tapestry of skills essential for success, where social awareness and adept decision-making converge to shape individuals into resilient, empathetic, and successful contributors to the world around them.
As we navigate our professional journeys, it becomes crystal clear that success isn't just a destination; it's an ongoing process of self-realization.
John Maxwell shares a story about a lesson he learned from his dad as a kid.
Melvin said to John, “Five frogs were sitting on a log and four decided to jump off. How many frogs are left on the log?”
“One!” John responded with great confidence.
Then Melvin surprised John with the point of the story: “All five frogs remain on the log, son. Deciding isn’t enough! You have to take action.”
I had the honor of speaking at Eastern Illinois University last night. I graduated from EIU and having the opportunity to give back to the Education Department was wonderful. I provided those in attendance with a card to receive a copy of my book delivered to them when it is published.
Sharing with this group the origins of Two Rules and leaving them with a message of what to remember heading into the classrooms with the students they will serve, was exciting for me. It will take the actions of all of your teachers, administrators and staff involved with students to make the changes we need to achieve.
Have you made decisions on the actions needed to achieve your goals? What steps have you taken to reach them? Do you need to pivot to make changes to the established goals? It is November and the clock is ticking, it is time for actions.
In order to be successful, you have to take action. Here are four keys to becoming a person of action:
Decide to be a person of action. Believe that those who take action more also become more, achieve more and contribute more. Understand as a leader, everyone watches and hears to learn what is expected of them through your actions, not decisions alone.
Leading with Two Rules is not a decision, but a constant and consistent action daily. It is not just the way we do things around here, it is how we actively live. Choose to be part of the solution daily in a world which needs your actions today.
Misbehavior and poor choices should not be excused by the circumstances of a child's life, but we can strive to understand and explain these behaviors in the context of their experiences. Our role as educators and caregivers is to empower children to view themselves not as victims of their circumstances but as overcomers of the challenges they face. It is not impossible to rise above the "things" that happen to you; it is within your control to determine whether these events continue to define you.
Each day, when children come to school, they carry their own unique form of currency – a desire for connection and attention. Yes, they seek to exchange this "currency" with us, the adults in their lives. It is essential that we show them how to exchange their inherent need for attention positively, guiding them toward healthier ways to fulfill this basic human requirement.
As children learn to exchange their "currency" for attention, they will come to exchange it for praise and love as well. Once we provide them with the knowledge of how to receive these forms of validation, they will strive to earn more of it through their actions. By taking the time to acknowledge and appreciate their efforts, we can witness significant changes in their behavior and self-esteem. Keeping a journal of their progress can be a valuable tool in this journey.
However, the most precious currency a child possesses is trust. This currency is securely locked in a vault and only exchanged when it has been proven beyond any doubt. To establish this trust, we must be authentic in our words and actions, maintaining consistency in everything we say and do. Children are always observing and learning from us, so it's crucial that we demonstrate integrity and honesty in our interactions. Gossip and negative comments about any child or staff member should be avoided, as children are perceptive and can sense more than we often realize.
It's essential to recognize that trauma affects each individual differently, and the support required will vary for each child. Some children may outwardly express their struggles in various ways, while others may internalize them. Our responsibility is to help them find positive outlets to release their emotions and cope with their experiences, seeking professional guidance when necessary. By fostering a safe and supportive environment, we can help children heal and grow, empowering them to overcome their past and look toward a brighter future.
The school year is fast approaching and it is time to begin to plan for the 2023-2024 school year.
Coming this week will be a recorded video on how to explain Two Rules to students.
A new design to the website will be appearing soon with an opportunity for you to join in receiving free resources, E-books and inside looks at tips to improve all aspects to your school day.
I will be working on bringing to you “Solutions Speak” on Saturday’s with our YouTube Channel. This will focus for thirty minutes on a problem and a solution. I welcome any issues you have you would like for a solution to be discussed. First episode is this Saturday!
Two Rules primary focus is on creating an environment where every individual who walks through the doors of our school experiences a sense of belonging and security. Achieving this goal is a collective effort, and one of the ways we can accomplish it is by constantly asking ourselves important questions.
Before we speak, we should pause and inquire, "Will what I am about to say bring about positive feelings for myself and others? Will it contribute to their sense of safety?" Similarly, we must assess our actions by asking, "Will my actions promote well-being and a feeling of safety for myself and others?"
Should the answer to any of these questions be negative, we recognize that there is a problem that needs attention. It's crucial to acknowledge and address these issues promptly. We don't shy away from the responsibility to find solutions.
Ultimately, it boils down to making choices. We are empowered to make decisions that impact the atmosphere around us. By actively choosing to be part of the solution rather than the problem, we contribute to the nurturing and positive environment we seek to create.
Two Rules establishes a strong belief that a safe and welcoming school is not just an abstract concept; it is a tangible reality that we actively cultivate through conscious choices. Together, we can ensure that every individual feels valued, safe, and supported within our school community.
Many skills are gained by working in the Two Rules culture and it captures the essence of what we want in all of our schools. This collaboration of a home, school and community approach lifts students up as leaders of their learning, growth and development.
It will not be long until the school doors swing open, signaling the start of a new school year. It seems like just yesterday that summer began, yet it has swiftly slipped away. As the days grow shorter, I find myself yearning for them to stretch out a little longer. Why, you ask? Well, because all of my precious grandchildren will soon embark on their educational journey. My little Alden will begin Kindergarten, Abram in 3rd grade and Aubrey will be in 10th grade. Oh how can it be?
It's hard to fathom how quickly time has passed. As a teacher, it always felt like just yesterday I was a student myself, eagerly anticipating the first day of school. I can remember standing in my own classroom on the top floor of the very school I attended as a child. I could not help but notice how it had aged over the years. The familiar halls hold echoes of memories, and the air carries a sense of nostalgia. This would be the final year of this school. It was a special moment for me.
I can vividly recall my early days as a wide-eyed kindergartener, learning to tie my shoes with patience and guidance from my teacher. It was here that I forged friendships, like the one I had with Tammy, who kindly buttoned my coat when my tiny fingers struggled. Yet, alongside these fond recollections, there are also lingering shadows of not-so-pleasant moments, memories that still haunt me to this day. The tunnel we had to go through which went under the main road to protect us from the dangers of the cars, but not from the scary boys who taunted me. Just one day I can recall very clearly when the teacher called me out and sent me to the hall. Yelling at me, threatening to call my mom and getting the other teacher all because she thought I had signed the test paper, but she did not know me or my family at all. This is where I learned school was not a place I could feel good or safe.
My advice to all of the teachers, please let your students know who you are on the first day. Let them get to know you in a fun and exciting way! Also help them understand the expectations, routines and procedures. Consistency each day is the best way so start on day one.
Please go to my website to the resource page and locate the Artifact Bag. Work know to prepare this for your students to work in groups to try to discover all of the clues about you! Make it unique, exciting, interesting, a cool way to solve and be creative. Kids will “dig” it! I am planting the seed of a way to get the kids talking, collaborating and being excited about having you as their teacher. This is what we want for the first day and all the way to the last day.
Please feel free to come back to share pictures, post your ideas and let us all see how great it is on the first day! I can’t wait to see all you will do! I am getting excited just thinking about it!
When you are doing your expectations, routines and procedures share with us all of that as well! Please, Please….someone do the Two Rules.
For years, educators have been encouraged to prioritize student data in their professional learning communities, team activities, and other initiatives. The prevailing wisdom has been that understanding current performance is crucial in order to make a positive impact on student learning outcomes. However, recent research has shed new light on this approach. After conducting and reviewing numerous studies over an extended period, researchers have discovered that the emphasis on analyzing student data has generally failed to yield improvements in learning outcomes. I know I have said and heard others say, “We are data rich and information poor.” Meaning we have all of this data we go over, but what are we doing with it?
While it is undeniably important to identify areas where students struggle, need improvement, or excel, this is merely the first step. Far too often, the focus has been solely on collecting and analyzing student data, without translating that information into meaningful changes in learning support and engagement. As a result, learning outcomes rarely see any significant changes. Action steps need to follow with steps to take and a timeline to follow.
The researchers observed that educators invest significant time and effort into data analysis, but the process often falters when it comes to the utilization of that data. The reasons behind this lack of effective follow-through appear to be diverse.
One common response, as noted by the researchers, is to attribute a student's struggles to non-instructional factors, such as difficulties at home, lack of study habits, or poor test-taking skills. Consequently, no specific instructional or learning experience modifications are suggested or implemented. Essentially, the problem is acknowledged, but the cause is perceived as beyond the teacher's control, leading to a lack of action.
Another frequent response is to place students on "watch lists" or assign them similar designations, without taking any specific actions to improve their current performance or address existing learning barriers. Merely observing a struggling student offers little promise for performance improvement. Meanwhile, time is wasted, the curriculum moves forward, and interventions often come too late to alter learning outcomes. However, if utilizing the components within the Two Rule Philosophy, the SOS (System of Support) will provide the action plan with all of the individuals needed to be present in the meeting to develop a plan to support all of the needs. A copy of the SOS and meeting contract will be coming to the resource page soon. It is part of my book which is not published at this time, but my goal is to get it published soon. I have not found the right place to publish yet and the best way to do it to benefit you. I do not want you to wait to have materials in your hands to begin implementing. I will have more and more for you! My goal is to continue to support, provide resources and guide.
Merely knowing that a student is underperforming offers little benefit unless the underlying causes of their struggles are also understood. Merely reteaching a concept or skill without altering our approach provides limited benefits to learners who were unable to grasp the material initially. In fact, if the initial instruction led to confusion or misconceptions, repeating the process, even at a slower pace, risks reinforcing that confusion and further entrenching misconceptions. Ultimately, unless our analysis of student data leads to thoughtful, well-informed changes in instructional practices and adjustments in students' learning experiences, improvements in learning outcomes will remain elusive. Doing the same thing over and over, will get the same results.
It is crucial to uncover the "real story" behind the data. Often, the only way to discover the root causes of students' struggles is by involving the students themselves in the process. Two Rules Philosophy believes in having students actively involved in every aspect of the learning journey. Remember, “Education is something we do with children, not to them.”
While we can speculate about the reasons behind their difficulties, students can provide firsthand insights and context if we invite and support their participation. Of course, some students may initially feel discouraged and require coaching, while others may be hesitant to admit and discuss areas in which they struggle, necessitating the reduction of perceived risks. On the other hand, certain students may possess the necessary skills and level of insight to reflect on their learning experiences, enabling them to become partners in constructing a path to improvement.
The benefits of including students in the process of analyzing data, understanding the underlying causes of their struggles, and designing personalized learning paths extend far beyond simply recognizing that there is a problem. When students become active participants in their own learning, they are more likely to be committed and persistent, even in the face of challenges. Furthermore, they become better equipped to navigate future learning difficulties when they are not guided and supported by educators. This is being part of the solution.
As we look at the key takeaway from the researchers' findings, analyzing student data alone is insufficient to drive improvements in learning outcomes. Instead, educators must use the data to inform meaningful changes in instructional practices and learning experiences. By involving students in the process and understanding the root causes of their struggles, we can create a collaborative environment that fosters commitment, persistence, and independent problem-solving skills, ultimately leading to more significant and sustainable improvements in student learning outcomes. Applying the Two Rule Philosophy students will feel good about themselves and gain all of the skills needed as they grow.
Resources for the blog:
Hill, H. C. (February 7, 2020). Does studying student data really raise test scores? Education Week.
Everyone has a device of some kind these days. It has become a ubiquitous sight in our modern world. If you look around, you'll notice that almost no one is engaged in face-to-face conversations anymore. Instead, people are engrossed in their devices, gazing intently into screens or chatting away feverishly. It's astonishing to see how technology has transformed our daily lives to the point where we are constantly connected, even while driving, walking, or flying through the air. This dependence on devices has reshaped the way we interact and communicate, with virtual conversations often taking precedence over real-world connections.
Having meaningful conversations with children is essential for their emotional and social development. It not only helps them understand their own feelings but also cultivates empathy, analytical skills, and a sense of community. Two simple rules questions, "Will this make me/them feel good?" and "Will this make me/them feel safe?" can be transformative tools in guiding children towards positive actions. In this blog post, we will explore how to use these rules to engage in conversations with students and provide a safe space for them to express their thoughts and emotions.
Core Ideas to Guide You: When initiating conversations with students, it is important to keep the following core ideas in mind:
Meeting with a Student for the First Time: When meeting a student for the first time, focus on building trust. Start with conversation starters that revolve around the student's interests and experiences. Gradually transition into discussing the specific issue at hand. Use open-ended questions that encourage the student to articulate their thoughts and emotions. Allow pauses and give the student space to think before responding.
When a Student Will Not Talk: Sometimes, students may be reluctant or unable to express themselves verbally. In such cases, it is important to be patient and understanding. Recognize that there may be underlying reasons, such as trauma or concerns about trust and loyalty. Assure the student that you are there for them and that you are ready to listen when they are ready to talk. Engage in non-verbal cues that convey your support, such as sitting closer, maintaining open body language, and responding with short affirmations. Understand that the student may need time to process their thoughts and emotions before opening up.
In situations where a student remains unresponsive, it is essential to involve other professionals, such as school counselors or social workers. They can provide additional support and insights into the student's well-being.
Conversations with children guided by the two simple rules of considering feelings and safety can have a profound impact on their social and emotional growth. By creating a safe and non-judgmental environment, we empower students to develop critical thinking, empathy, and a sense of responsibility towards their community. Remember, these conversations are not about right or wrong; they are about fostering understanding and growth. Through patient listening, open body language, and genuine empathy, we can help children navigate challenges and make choices that promote their well-being and that of others.
This is an important part of Two Rule Schools.
In the realm of education, assessment is often thought of as a means of evaluating students' academic progress and understanding. However, there is a deeper and more profound form of assessment that goes beyond test scores and grades. It involves being mindful of our own reactions to students and recognizing the impact that our emotions and behaviors can have on them. This form of assessment is rooted in the concept of emotional regulation and relational contagion.
Relational contagion refers to the phenomenon where individuals unconsciously pick up on each other's emotions and experiences, even in the absence of direct communication. As educators, we are constantly attuned to the emotional states of our students, and they, in turn, can sense our own emotional states. This mutual influence can create a feedback loop where our students' feelings and behaviors affect us, and our reactions, in turn, impact them.
So let’s ponder the thoughts of this for a few moments. How does this work in society? If we are watching, participating in and reading on social media platforms consistently the same emotional responses and reactions what is it doing to us? Better question—what is this doing to our children?
Understanding the importance of emotional regulation is crucial in the context of education. When we are faced with challenging behaviors or disciplinary issues in the classroom, it is essential to recognize that a student's ability to process language, redirection, or rewards is compromised when their stress response system is activated. Similarly, our own ability to think clearly, regulate our emotions, and respond appropriately is hindered when we are in a stressed state.
Just like our students, when we are in a stress response state, our emotional regulation skills become impaired. We may find ourselves feeling scattered, impulsive, and struggling to focus. Alternatively, we may experience a sense of immobilization and hopelessness, as our nervous system conserves energy in the face of overwhelming stress. It is in these moments that we must delve beneath the surface of our behaviors and ask ourselves what lies beneath our agitation, irritability, anxiety, worry, or anger.
My favorite saying I use: “Gather all of your facts before you react.” This is the time we need to use assessments to guide us in making choices, decisions and in asking the right questions.
By recognizing that behaviors are merely signals of what is happening within our nervous system, we can begin to cultivate a deeper understanding of ourselves and our students. Instead of reacting to challenging behaviors with frustration or punishment, we can respond and approach them with empathy and curiosity. We can seek to understand the underlying emotions and needs that are driving these behaviors, both in ourselves and in our students. When we use Two Rules, we can ask the questions we need to ask in order to walk through the process of understanding all perspectives and issues involved.
Moreover, it is important to acknowledge that when we are anxious or worried, our ability to think clearly and logically is compromised. Our thoughts, perceptions of time, and even the way we interpret sounds can be altered. In this survival mode, emotional regulation takes a backseat as our primary focus becomes self-preservation. Recognizing this fundamental aspect of human nature allows us to approach challenging situations with a compassionate lens, understanding that our students' behavior is a reflection of their internal state rather than a personal attack. We emphasize in Two Rules that a reaction to any situation is emotional and a response is taking the time to reflect. “We gather all of our facts before we react and most importantly respond.”
Practicing emotional regulation is essential for educators and for teaching those we serve. By cultivating self-awareness and understanding our reactions to students, we can create a classroom environment that fosters emotional well-being and academic growth. By recognizing the phenomenon of relational contagion, we can be mindful of the impact our emotions and behaviors have on our students and strive to be positive influences in their lives. Ultimately, by prioritizing emotional regulation, we can create a space where students and educators thrive, leading to a more meaningful and impactful educational experience for all. Two Rules supports everyone feeling good and feeling safe in all environments. We can, and we will make an impact on teaching and learning with Two Rules. Please remember there is no excuse for breaking the rules; there are explanations. I hold everyone to high standards, accountability, and responsibility. But, we do not stop at passing out discipline; we work through every process to find the beginning, middle, and solution to resolve a repeat of any more problems.
Our area was hit by storms on Thursday afternoon. I live in the country so we do not expect to have power for several days. No estimated time for our power to return to us.
We totally understand and appreciate all of the workers who are doing their best to meet the needs of thousands of people without power. We are safe and are in no need of our electronics for survival. We have a camp stove and get water from our shop which has power.
We have made the trip in to charge up our phones and for me to send out a message to my followers.
I appreciate all of you who follow me and I will return as soon as our power is restored. Please have a safe 4th of July and pray for all of those working to restore power to others. Pray for those who have lost power, experienced damage and any hardships during this time.
Many blessings to all! Appreciate all you have each day, praise daily the gifts you receive and celebrate those who give to others!
The Two Rules philosophy serves as a powerful reminder that the welfare of students is at the core of a school's culture. By fostering an environment of respect, empathy, and support, educators can create transformative experiences for students and their families. Through this philosophy and during my implementation, I demonstrated the profound impact that relationships and mutual respect can have on shaping the lives of students, even in the face of challenging circumstances. As we strive to create inclusive and nurturing educational environments, let us embrace the principles of the Two Rules philosophy and work towards ensuring that every student feels good and safe every day.
As we worked with Two Rules, we became a family as our staff grew together. We supported each other and recognized the strengths each one had and celebrated each other. We broke ourselves into teams to work with smaller numbers of students, we had a building leadership team, intervention team, team leaders, and a system of support (SOS) which all worked together towards helping us achieve established goals.
Two Rules can work for every school, every situation in helping establish what is needed for the solutions you seek.
As we embark on our journey of understanding and finding solutions, I want to emphasize the importance of seeing things from different perspectives. To help you grasp this concept, I have chosen a remarkable book called "Six Blind Men and the Elephant." This pop-up book has been a valuable tool for individuals of all ages, including myself.
The story revolves around six blind men who set out to explore and comprehend an elephant. As they explore the elephant by touching different parts of its body, each blind man forms a unique perception of what the elephant is like. They passionately argue with one another because they firmly believe their own perspective to be the only correct one. In reality, though, they are all partially right. If only they could have seen the other blind men's points of view, they would have discovered that together, they held the complete truth.
This tale holds a valuable lesson for us. When we allow our emotions to dictate our decision-making and fail to pause and ask ourselves important questions, we miss out on comprehending the whole picture. It is crucial that we take a moment to reflect and inquire before reacting. By doing so, we open ourselves up to understanding the perspectives of others and can respond in an appropriate and empathetic manner.
Remember, seeing the world through another person's eyes broadens our understanding, fosters empathy, and enhances our problem-solving abilities. So, let us embrace the opportunity to see beyond our own vantage point and discover the power of multiple perspectives.
Wishing you a journey of discovery and growth.
Two Rules is the foundation of building more than feeling good and safe. The Two Rules philosophy is a promise to students that their welfare is the center of a school’s culture: Everyone will feel good in this school and everyone will feel safe in this school. It is also a request that students work to ensure that both of these statements are true every day. Let me provide you with more of the depth to the work it will do as you adopt the practices.
Adopting a trauma-informed approach is a comprehensive process that cannot be achieved through a singular technique or checklist. It necessitates continuous attention, compassionate awareness, sensitivity, and potentially a cultural shift at the organizational level. It is crucial to engage in ongoing internal assessments and quality improvement within the organization, as well as actively involve community stakeholders. By embedding this approach, organizational development and practice can be enhanced to ensure improvement.
When discussing trauma, it becomes apparent that it holds various meanings for different individuals, ranging from mild to extreme levels. However, trauma is not merely an isolated event—it lingers. It can affect individuals in such a way that they are uncertain when a memory of the traumatic experience might resurface. Furthermore, in some cases, trauma is a daily occurrence for certain individuals.
Addressing trauma involves providing practices that prioritize physical, emotional, spiritual, and cultural safety for those who have experienced such trauma. It is essential to acknowledge that everyone, without exception, has experienced trauma, particularly during the global pandemic. This period brought about multiple levels of trauma that affected individuals at different degrees, but it was a shared experience for all.
The Two Rules Philosophy serves as a foundation to support the implementation of a trauma-informed approach in addressing the needs of all children. This philosophy revolves around cultivating a culture that emphasizes both feeling good and feeling safe. By collaboratively working as a cohesive unit comprising schools, homes, and the wider community, the physical, emotional, spiritual, and cultural safety of individuals can be effectively addressed. This collaborative effort ensures that the needs of those affected by trauma are met in a comprehensive manner.
I want to make it clear, just as I have to my students, staff, families, and the communities I have served, that poor choices in behavior cannot be excused by offering an excuse; they can only be explained. Every action must be met with a corresponding reaction, but it is crucial to understand that the response to these actions is not merely a knee-jerk reaction. Instead, it should be a thoughtful and considered response that takes into account the unique needs and circumstances of those involved. Each situation requires a tailored approach, ensuring that the responses are appropriate and conducive to growth and understanding. The Two Rule Philosophy helps guide students through utilizing problem solving and gaining many skills to help them before they make a choice which results as a problem.