As a teacher, have you ever heard, “You asked the wrong questions. I did not study for those questions.” When I moved into the position as Director of Educational Support Programs, I was charged with bringing in experts to help our staff with curriculum, instruction, and assessments. One of the experts for our math support made a remarkable statement one day. “We are working to create answer seekers, not answer getters.”

What do we want to create in our learners? To seek to understand? To memorize and repeat? To create, innovate, and question? As we prepare students for the world before them, what do they need?

Do we have any wrong questions to ask? I think the answer to that question is to ask more questions. Questioning is one of those areas where people can become uneasy, irritated, frustrated, and sometimes angry when questions continue. There is a great commercial on TV where a little girl is sitting in the back seat, and she asks her dad, “ What is the future?” Dad demonstrates the ability to have hands-free driving in the car in the future. Satisfied with this answer, she forms her next question. Dad, do fish get thirsty? Dad takes a deep breath and sighs.

Questioning is part of learning. I have written about questioning several times, one area I feel we need to explore deeper. The levels of our questioning will provide the depth of the learning. Then when students are always encouraged to question more profoundly and learn not to settle for a quick answer to be finished, the actual depth of learning can begin.

Our world is swift pace; got to have it now and instant answers. No one has the patience to wait for anything. We need to have more of the why, what is that, and how does, what if, does this, and I can continue with the phrases. We do not know what the future jobs will be because the rate of change is faster today than it was yesterday. Developments are happening, so the level of questioning, thinking, creativity, and innovation needs to be high.

Fill in the blank, true/false, matching are quick checks for understanding, but are not at the level of learning opportunities needed to accelerate students. It takes time to develop lessons, spaces, projects, and ideas to enhance educational environments. We can continue to increase these experiences and opportunities for all students as we enrich learning.

Questions

If we know that 2 + 2 = 4 and 2 x 2 = 4, then we also know what from this knowledge? What can we predict?

Our family will be traveling by car to Orlando, Florida. We want to make an itinerary for our trip. How many miles will we be traveling? How much will it cost for fuel? How many meals should we plan for? Do we need to stop halfway to spend the night and finish the drive the next day? How can we make the best decision for our travel? Are there things we should stop to see? What is your recommendation?

Looking at our science experiment, can you analyze the difference between the two containers. What would the result be if__________? Why did _______happen in the first container and not the second?

Why would we challenge students daily? If not now, when? There is never a better time than today.

I have spoken these words in my life journey. I am sure many of you have as well. It came to me that these simple two words are not simple. They are also connected to my Two Rule philosophy. It hit me as I was recovering from my breast cancer surgery. All of the days leading up to now rushed through my head, and I thought, yes, that is exactly right! We have all done this process or do this thought process daily.

The phone rings, “Hello, this is. Brenda Yoho. My birthday is....”

“Thank you, Mrs. Yoho, for confirming your information with me. I have the results from your biopsy, and unfortunately, it shows breast cancer.”

“Stop, Dr. Royal. I need to get my husband on the phone. I will not hear everything you are saying, and we need to hear what you are telling us.”

This is the point in your mind when you begin with questions. You do not say them out loud, only in your mind. What if they have not caught this cancer in time? What if I have to do all of the treatments that make you sick? What if I lose my hair? What if I only have a short time to live?

As these thoughts process through your mind, all of the what if’s help you determine and become comfortable(if you can say that) you have cancer. Nothing you can do to change that fact; you have cancer. Then why not’s begin to develop in your mind.

Why not begin planning your funeral and things, so others do not have to do it. Why not start cleaning out stuff so others won’t be stuck doing that either. Why not pick out what you would like donations to go to if you pass on. Why not begin making sure everyone is taken care of so they can manage in your absence.

Then wham, it hits you. I can't do this! I can't face this; I am scared. I can’t lose my hair. I can’t take these treatments. I can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t believe it. I have breast cancer.

Then I turned to the philosophy I had been practicing for decades, Two Rules. Two rules were more than the two questions and two choices. “Everyone will feel safe and feel good. I can be part of the problem or part of the solution; the choice is always mine to make.” We indeed choose how we react and respond to situations. Everyone includes yourself and those around you. Things happen beyond our control at times. During these times, the lessons are at the highest level of value.

If we open ourselves to the what if, why not, and I can't, it will always lead us to the Two Rule philosophy. Our actions in every situation will be first to make sure of the safety of everyone. Following the guidelines of doctors is the key to this safety. Our next step is to make sure everyone feels good. Asking questions and reassuring everyone of the steps to follow is helpful. Establishing support people is also a great addition. Always know you are never alone!

Two is the number

These what if, why not, and feel safe, feel-good are sets of two questions asked together to equal the same decision-making process. When asking these questions, you are deciding on taking action or not. Then you are looking at the reaction to your action. It is a cause and effect.

I can’t...

“I can't” is a statement more than a question. I can’t is part of the process of crisis thinking and is replaced when questions are asked to help find solutions. My husband has always told me, “can’t can not do anything, but you can.” Replace your “I can’t statement with “I can” statements. Mindsets play a significant role in all we do. Positive mindsets help achieve and overcome!

What if I never talked to you about having breast cancer? I have always shared my stories, hardships, and lessons. Why not let others have a chance to gain understanding, learn something or find hope in what they are struggling with within their lives. I can't imagine not being vulnerable like this and allowing others to see we are all individuals in an unpredictable world.

I like to ask questions to others to allow deep thinking; sometimes, within those questions come more! It is rethinking, reflecting or is it overthinking?

What are the thoughts you are thinking about today? Are they the same as yesterday? Will the thoughts carry on to tomorrow? How will new thoughts arrive if the present thoughts remain the same?

I think I will ponder on these thoughts and contemplate what I will be thinking tomorrow!

Today is a great day, to begin with posing a question with a question! Wait, I mean, pose a question. No, I mean, ask a question. Do you know what I mean?

You can both “ask” and “pose” a question, but the two words come with different meanings. To “ask” is a verb that means we’re seeking information (or, in this case, an answer to our question). “To pose” is a verb that means to pause, meaning that we’re waiting while people ponder the information we’ve put forward.

When we “ask” a question, we direct it at someone, in particular, expecting to answer. If we “pose” a question, we generally throw it out for others to think about and respond later.

If I ask you what 2+2=, you will be able to give me an answer pretty quick. However, if I pose the mathematical question differently, it may be harder to answer without thought. An example like this: Simple addition problems are easy to calculate; how do we add up what it takes to be happy?

It is Monday, Daylight Savings time why are we so full of questions?

“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

  1. When is the last time I learned something for the first time?
  2. When is the last time I did something for the first time?
  3. When is the last time I found something better for the first time?
  4. When is the last time I saw something bigger for the first time?

How To View Leadership Problems

How to be Solution-Focused

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.

Which comes first, wisdom or knowledge? Wisdom is built on knowledge. So does that mean you can be both wise and knowledgeable? Then you can't be wise without being knowledgeable. What do you think? Is it the same as an egg before chicken or the chicken before an egg?

Knowledge is knowing about something. I have knowledge of the food in my garden and what grows on my trees. Wisdom is knowing how to apply the knowledge I have. In addition, how to use it in context. Like this old example: knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is knowing not to use it in a fruit salad. However, some people would say this is common sense.

I believe knowledge is gathered from learning and education. The more knowledge you gain about a subject area you can be identified as an expert in the area. Just because you have knowledge, it does not make you wise. When you have knowledge, you can make decisions with clarity of facts and truths.

In order for individuals to gain wisdom, it must be gathered from day-to-day experiences and is a state of being wise. Wisdom is the practical ability to make consistently good decisions in life from the individual's knowledge and experience.

Wisdom is a virtue. Is that a true statement? Wisdom can only be acquired through experience. Anyone who is interested in trying new things, reflecting on the process, analyzing, testing your knowledge and having a growth mindset has the ability to gain wisdom. In this process one should have knowledge first in order to become wise.

How do you compare knowledge and wisdom? Do you know individuals who are wise?

I constantly measure the meaningfulness of the messages I send, the information I share, and how I impact those who choose to read my posts. I intend to always help with driving solution-focused thinking and increasing the positives we share in day-to-day interactions.

One thing missing is an opportunity for others to share what they would like me to focus on to help them in what they are doing. I want to pause and organize this blog to work for those who need it to work for them. My idea is to dedicate each day to a particular topic. Examples could be: Monday: Motivation, Inspiration, Meetings Tuesday: Teaching, Thoughts, Talking Points, Communication Wednesday: Wisdom, Wit, Things to Ponder Thursday: Takeaways, Things to Share, Activities for team building Friday: Facts, Factors, Leadership Saturday: Solutions, Strategies, Plans. Sunday: Spiritual, Social-Emotional, Mental Health

Maybe you don't want to read something daily. What if you wanted something in one post? If this is your desire, what day would you choose to receive it, and what do you need the content to include?

Be the solution daily is for you. I want to thank all of my followers and those who have invested their time. Starting today, I will take a two-week break while I gather information on the direction of this blog.

Keep being the solution daily for all as we serve others in making the world better one day at a time.

I enjoy reading quotes. One of my favorite things is to see a quote and then see others' responses to the quote. So many thoughts, ideas, and wisdom are shared. Here are a few to review...

Share your thoughts. Do you have a favorite quote you use? What is one that helps you the most? I have a few, but would love to know others.

One of my first posts was about gears. I made this reference as it was part of the original writing in my book. I did not know everything I needed to know about publishing a book. So even though my gears were turning, I did not have all of the ones I needed to move forward successfully. A rewrite was done, and it will be coming out soon I hope.

The goal I have is to help other leaders in their journeys of success. I will share all of my information, ideas, practices, actions, and everything I have with those who want to continue to be the solution daily for those they serve. Today I want to revisit the thought of gears as you begin to develop an action plan to address your planned improvements.

I utilized my conversations with my husband to talk about the motors he worked on for companies and local farmers, as they compare to the work in education. The importance of these motors for the work being done is critical to the whole process. If one gear is not working, damage can happen, and work is stopped. A farmers' work depends on the weather conditions; it is critical to get back to work when the weather is good. In education, we weather all of the storms that come our way.

In our educational system, we have gears as well that are critical to the work we do. I divided the gears into the following:

Gears are connected to a shaft. This cylinder shaped piece of rotating machine element, is used to transmit power from one part to another, or from a machine which produces power to a machine which absorbs power. Compare this to your organization.

Gears are the identified areas of focus. Our focused areas are those in need of attention to produce the successful energy we need. Often my husband has spent time completing a rewind of motors because they have burnt up and need an overhaul. Sometimes they are beyond repair and are scrapped out. New motors are purchased if it is cheaper to do this than to fix the motor.

In education, it seems at times we have situations or things that are beyond repair. However, we cannot scrap them out and purchase new things. We have to make adjustments to try to make it work. I can think of textbooks, programs and curriculum. We spend a great deal of money, time, and energy in the selection of these materials. Our budgets do not allow us to throw things out. However, when new shiny things are the buzz, we through out and turn our attention to the new. Examples could be: Whole Language, Touch Math, Cursive Writing, Phonics, Sight Words and more.

We intend that we will produce enough energy our students will absorb the learning. However, it is not the energy from the materials and tools but those teaching our students producing the energy. It is when our students are engaged and have ownership in their learning the energy sparks.

The shaft is our mission as a foundation. It is what we are doing defined by our vision. Our vision is inspirational and connects emotionally with what we do. A well-oiled, lubricated, or greased machine keeps it turning. This is our values and beliefs. Working together and turning in the right direction is fueled by families, communities, and stakeholders. We have focused leaders, collaborating staff, engaged families, supportive community, and stakeholders, producing achieving students as outcomes are the results.

As you begin your work, identify your focus areas. Which gears do you have in your plan? What do you think at first glance needs your attention first? Be careful not to burn out all of your bags and destroy your shaft. Some things are not repairable, and we do not have enough time to repair them all. We cannot afford to throw anything out.

Counting on you to be the solution for those you serve today as they will serve tomorrow!

"I only have 2 rules!"
© 2023 Brenda Yoho
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