When I see something, hear something or read something, I like to share. Some consider it gossip when you are talking about others, but in this case, it is not. You need to be careful today to make sure you fact check, but this is the truth!

Dan Rockwell, a.k.a. Leadership Freak, is one of the first people I learned about while working with my friend Becky Robinson at Weaving Influence. He has such great insight on leadership!

I want to share his latest blog with you because it is a simple, but spot on approach that follows my structure of asking questions to guide yourself when making choices or decisions.

So many times, at the end of a day, we can feel defeated as we have those negative thoughts and find the negative self-talk remarks on our way home. The day may not have gone the way we wanted. You experienced some difficult conversations, and the list can go on. Regret, anger, sadness, and all the emotions fill up your mind as you replay the scenes of the day.

Dan Rockwell has written the blog for you! Follow the steps he provides to stop the negative thoughts and shift you mind to re-think the day.

Did you know you could set up your playlist to support you unwind, rewind or windup? I have selected music playlists to encourage me with whatever situation I may be experiencing, so I can improve myself to be ready for the next part of my agenda (welcoming of the school day, difficult meetings, end of the day, workout, inspiration). I have found several songs about smile. Not only that, but I consider it is always important to smile even when you assume you have nothing to smile about. This is coming from a lady who was in a semi and car crash which did a great deal of damage to many things, especially me! I went without many teeth for two years as they worked on doing bone graphs and implants for 13 teeth. So please smile.

I spent nine years of my educational career at the middle school level. I also have had a daughter, a granddaughter, and, before I know it, two grandsons who will experience middle school.

My belief was in letting everyone play, be involved, and be part of all of the activities they wanted to be in. Life is full of road blocks, dead ends and obstacles to overcome. However, I soon discovered funding and staffing would not accommodate my thought process.

Our school had a strict budget for our athletics, and finding individuals for the coaching positions were complex, so adding additional teams would be a problem. Then if I added extra time to the practice schedule, it would not be possible.

I was also advised to think about the message I would send to the students I serve. We do not want students to think, “Everyone wins and gets a trophy.” To receive awards, honors, and rewards, you have to work for them. This is so true! However, I want them to have at least the opportunity to try. If you never have the chance to get on the team to practice, learn and develop, we may never discover your full potential. There is so much more to being involved with school activities.

Check out Seth’s Blog, which I follow for out-of-the-boundary thinking to stretch my thoughts. Let me know your thoughts on sports and extracurricular activities. What do you think they are for? How do you think they should be? Does everyone get a trophy?

Two Rules

Bringing Two Rules to your school is reinforced by recognizing the importance of building good habits. One concept I reinforced over and over with students was that when something becomes a habit, it can move you from where you are. A good habit can move you forward; a bad habit can have unpleasant consequences. We can learn what habits will help us as we continue to grow.

The first rule is about feeling good. What does it mean to feel good about the school? What does it mean to feel good about yourself? When someone passes you and says, “Good Morning, How are you?” What do you say? Don’t we usually say, “Good Morning, I am good, or I am fine?” What does that mean?

Understanding the concept of our feelings is the first step in working to help build our habits to reinforce this environment for us and those around us as well.

I wanted them to understand that they had the power to develop habits of thought that would help them face their problems, both now and in the future. In Atomic Habits, James Clear writes about a feedback loop that people can develop when working to make a change: try, fail, learn, and try differently. The Two Rules taught students mental habits that grew stronger each time they were repeated.

James Clear, Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones (RH Business Books, 2018), 46.

Model How

People shape people. Are you an influencer? Yes, you are! There are many “new” titles for our busy world. You do not need to have millions of followers to be an influencer in the world; you need to have a positive light and words to share.

I never worry about looking at how many people have liked, commented, shared, or looked at what I have posted. All that matters to me is that at least one has read, heard and acted on the words of the message sent. We always strive to have more and more, but showing up to provide others with the support they need is so important.

I am not sure about any titles I have been given in the past or those I may receive in the future, but I do know I will continue to provide all that I can help be the solution daily for others in all of the ways I can. So join me as an influencer as we work on modeling for others ways to help each other. Together we can influence positive changes to shine bright each day!

One Thing

If you could change one thing about education, what would it be? Let’s start a conversation as we prepare for next year.

The following is a campaign from NASSP for leaders to actively contact their legislators to take federal actions on five key areas to support the needs of districts to handle the mental health crisis we are experiencing across our nation. Please consider coping these words to use in your communications to legislators, on your social platforms, in all of your communications to your local community partners to also contact legislators and I thank NASSP for the powerful wording used below.

Schools across the country are experiencing a mental health crisis. Students and educators need more federal support, and Congress can do five key things right now that would tackle this growing crisis:

Our students and our schools cannot wait. We need action now! #PrincipalsForMentalHealth

Dear ___________,

According to NASSP’s recent Survey of America’s School Leaders and High School Students, three-quarters of school leaders (73%) and students (74%) report they needed help with their mental or emotional health last year. I can also tell you that oftentimes students’ mental health challenges manifest themselves as behavioral issues, putting further stress on educators who are already stretched too thin. One-half of school leaders (51%) reported in the survey student behavior is worse than before the pandemic, with the majority concerned about online bullying (85%), in-person/physical bullying (82%) and drug use (80%) in their school. A significant portion (82%) of school leaders also identified using federal funding to increase the number of school psychologists, counselors and other health professionals as important.

School leaders are uniquely positioned to leverage trauma-informed strategies to address the enormous wave of social, emotional, and mental health needs among students, but frankly, we need increased federal support to do it. For that reason, I support the following policies, and I urge you to take action on them:

Collectively, this legislation and funding would greatly expand our ability to recruit, hire, and train school based mental health professionals; require the Department of Education to research and disseminate student and educator mental health best practice guidance; establish new school mental health grant programs; and increase partnerships between schools and community mental health providers.

With this support, I truly believe that we can make great strides towards taking better care of our students and put them in a situation where they can succeed academically. For many, that simply isn’t possible while they are struggling to cope with intense mental health challenges. Please help us help them by supporting this important policy in 2023.

Over the past decade, we can see a trend of an increase in addressing the needs of mental health. The global pandemic added to this increase; in addition, the pressures of social media and societal changes increase the forces felt by not only our children but all.

Today is the day to begin to address these issues. We cannot wait any longer to start placing plans to act to help all of our children and adults. Consider also transitioning to a Two Rule school as you approach implementing all of these supports to provide everyone with the opportunity to feel good and feel safe at school. Be the solution daily in a world that needs you.

As you begin your day, take a short moment to gather your thoughts. I have often repeated the following to students for decades to remind them of the power they have within themselves to develop into the individuals they desire to be.

Education is a gift we receive which no one can take from us, if we allow ourselves to continue to learn each day. As we grow and understand, we can see learning is endless.

Our personal habits should be guarded as gold mines and those bad habits we develop are anchors with chains wrapped around our feet, dragging us down each day. Habits dictate our behavior and the choices we make in our lives.

“Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”-Lao Tzu

It is in our power to change any part at any time. We can not go back and change the past. Many people dwell on the past, but those days are gone, and the day we have and the days to come are the ones we can change. If we continue to look back, we can never look forward to getting to the destination we desire. It is in the present and future our focus should be.

Make the changes today and start your path forward. Lots of gold awaits in the moments you create.

Are we still doing the same things today as yesterday?

Are we better today than we were yesterday?

Do we need to break the mold and try to do things differently?

The difference between today and tomorrow is us. Each one of us is a leader. Many believe it is a title that defines you as a leader, but it is in our abilities to determine success, failure, happiness, motivation, and inspiration. We all work together collectively to impact the growth and prosperity we want to achieve.

The approaches we used yesterday worked to maintain an average level and, at times, below the levels of what was needed to be mediocre. Today, we are looking to find solutions for exceptional or excellent. However, we are using the same ideas, skills, systems, and strategies for mediocrity to achieve superior performance.

My professional experience is in education, but the theory of applying these thoughts apply to all systems. It is the thought process of accepting change, realizing letting go of “scared” ways may be the right thing to do, and understanding you do not have to wait for someone else to try it first.

Change is prevalent. We have experienced change at a rapid pace in the last few years. Take a moment and think about the changes that have happened in your life in just the past year. The pressure of change impacts us daily.

Changes do not have to remain

The critical part of change is that it does not have to remain. Some accept the change as it comes and does not examine it to modify it to match the core values and belief system. Change is a continuous process, but not one we have to accept completely. We can examine change to adapt, modify, dismiss, and accept completely. However, it should be done with a complete understanding and thoughtfulness to the why of the change and its effects.

I will provide an example in real-life terms I have just experienced. The doctor orders lab work. My blood reveals some alarming elevations in certain areas. This is a significant change. The question is now, “What do we change in the medications which are preventing cancer, preventing neurological issues due to TBI, and preventing other health issues.” It is a chain reaction regarding the change. Changing one thing may cause A while changing another could cause B or C. Examining all of the choices in transition and looking at the big picture helps move forward with decisions based on change. It is not a group thinking choice but an individual decision based on thoughts generated by core values and beliefs. It could not be medication at all. The choice in change will be based on all the information provided and what we believe is the best decision.

When you are looking to apply a change to your organization, company, family, or self, consider these thoughts:

Break the Mold

Remaining the same is not the right choice. Some changes are always needed to improve. Even those at the top are looking daily for improvements. Break the mold and innovate, create and install in all the abilities to take some risks to discover new ideas.

You are on the verge of a discovery, innovation, or creation.

Please read my review of the book Trauma-Sensitive School Leadership. MiddleWeb has published the review, and this is a book to consider adding to your list of reading.

The reports of students failing in schools have identified our schools as failing. We have many things we need to repair in education, and we have not addressed these issues for decades. However, in the last three years, more has been added that needs to be addressed first before we can think our children can begin to catch up to the learning. Trauma is just one of those layers. Let’s start by understanding the how of leading trauma-sensitive schools.

“It only takes one person to whisper a little doubt in your ear for it to begin.”—Brenda Yoho, #Bethesolutiondaily

Do You Believe?

I am a mother, grandmother, and retired educator. Like most of you, I have been asked by a child, “Do you believe in, (Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, Ghosts, Fairies, or God) the list goes on. The wonderment and the fears placed in the minds and hearts of our children need validation from a person they trust. If we do not provide them with s strong foundational support, guidance, and knowledge, their minds and hearts will be influenced by others with different agendas.

My youngest grandson is with me each day as we prepare for Kindergarten next year. He has a personality that is uniquely his own, but when he makes a statement to me, he follows with, “Right, MooMoo” for validation. When we are working on lessons, he will say, “Was that 100% correct.” At his age, he already knows his target and the validation he seeks. We have talked a great deal about it being okay not to know as long as you continue trying and learning.

At the end of the day in my 5th-grade classroom, I had just finished reading the polar express. It was time to begin to get our coats and materials from our closets at the school. (Our building was ancient, and it was the last year students would be attending this building.)

As students gathered their things, someone said, “Did you hear a bell ring?” No, said a student. Then another one said, “I just heard a bell.”

They had everything, and the other classes looked ready to go. The 5th grade was prepared to go on their Christmas break. We dismissed so they could get down the stairs to the buses first and then the car riders and walkers. Then everyone began to hear them. Bells were ringing. The teachers were looking at the kids and asking what was wrong. “Can you hear the bells?“a student said. No, you better get going; the bus will leave you.

The 5th-grade staff had decided to read the Polar Express and pin bells inside the kids' coats. We brought in volunteers to finish the job during lunch so the kids would not catch on. Our last words after reading the book were, “Everyone at some point will place a little doubt in your mind, and it will reach your heart. You do not need to keep their doubt as your own. When you keep hope, love, and gratitude in your heart and mind, believing is the magic of what you want to make it be. Enjoy all of the wonderment of the day. Look at your friends, family, homes, and everything around us. Always believe we will work hard to make tomorrow better than today.”

Placing doubt in others is something we have been experiencing in our lives for a long time. It is when we do not recognize how much it is impacting our lives that it is scary. Now we can see from data the rise in depression, anxiety and suicide the fears and doubts are reaching our children at a higher impact than believing in Santa Claus. The most important thing we can do today is to stop placing doubt in the minds and hearts of our children. How?

Establishing a foundation is the beginning of what we do in building a relationship. As educators, we take dedicated steps to ensure families have all the information they need at the beginning of the year to support their child/children. Open houses are held where families can come to “meet the teacher,” as well as the rest of our staff. A plan is presented on how communication will happen between school and home. This beginning is essential for a positive relationship to continue.

The start of the school year is full of many activities and connections. All of these shared beginnings will fade away if we do not work to continue to nurture and strengthen relationships. Sustaining relationships over time requires and thrives with frequent communications and connections. Sending newsletters, having updated websites, and adding social platforms and other sources of media communications are great, but those personal ones matter the most.

Building Relationships

"I only have 2 rules!"
© 2024 Brenda Yoho
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