As I have taught children for decades, it is the choices we make which determine the path forward. My Two-Rule philosophy guides children in opening their minds to see their thoughts and learning to ask the right questions.

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”

ARISTOTLE

This is a powerful quote from Aristotle. I believe he is trying to tell us, that the emphasis on knowledge only leaves you with being a very smart individual with not knowing how to apply what you know for the good of others and following what is right. Why have all of the knowledge with nothing good come from it?

As an educator, the value of education is priceless. Growing up with parents unable to receive an education, the importance of gaining knowledge and utilizing it in daily life makes a big difference. Having the opportunity to learn from my parents, the knowledge is valuable, but it is the heart which knows best.


Education is an essential part of our journey in life. Historically, society impacts education and so do government policies. Education intends to prepare students for the future. As we prepare children for the future, educating their hearts is an important part.

When we provide children with lessons of the heart, we are giving moral values which help to produce character. Children learn integrity when we focus on teaching the importance of values. Decision-making is a focus of my Two Rule philosophy, where students learn about the power of choice. Thinking about the choices made and if they will make you or others feel good or safe provides opportunities to self-regulate and utilize values, culture, morals, compassion, ethics, and accountability. Before saying or doing, asking yourself questions and thinking of yourself and others, is the best way to make decisions.

As we look at how things are today, we can see; clearly, changes need to be made to help everyone feel good and safe at school.

My blog today talks about “Tell stories to change lives.” I have always been the authentic me. Telling your story does not make you less of a leader but an individual who can make a difference in the life of another. People want to know about struggles and they especially want to know they are not alone in them. When we share stories of overcoming, this gives others hope.

Having a life-changing injury did not sit well with me and provided me with the fight to work to regain as much as I could to get back to work! When one battle is won, you may find a new one for fighting, and it is through your passion, grit, and courage you will overcome to continue the work you want to do. It may not be in the way you did it before, and you may need to find different ways, but you will discover the how.

Thank you to Yo Taylor, who began following me and reached out to ask me to be a guest on her Podcast. She is a beautiful soul and is helping to bring positive changes in the work she is doing. We all share space, and learning to help each other in feeling good and safe is the best first step to take.

I apologize for the lighting and connection on my end. I live in the country and am not set up for Podcasts. I hope you can still find words to inspire you.

A story to tell, and The gifts are my stories for today. We have many to share to help others know they are not alone in their struggles. I can; you can; we can be the solution today in a world so thankful you are in it each day!

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To change the lives of others

Today marks my anniversary of being diagnosed with breast cancer. It is my first anniversary, and I am cancer free. If you have experienced cancer, you know it is never too far from your mind. At the beginning of the diagnosis, it was all I could think of, and then it lessened.

Many people have stories of days that trigger a memory. Memories can be good; some are happy, and others are traumatic. Dates can trigger memories of events, a smell, or a sound. There are many ways to trigger a memory to the surface, and we have no control when it comes.

Our brains are our control center, and we can help in learning ways to help respond when we find ourselves in situations involving a trigger. The holidays are when we have many people who experience difficulties, so please check on those you know will have issues this year due to losing a loved one or an illness.


Dr. Tranel was one of the experts who assessed me after my accident in 2010, which resulted in a traumatic brain injury. Meeting him and going to his Iowa facility was a memorable event for me. My husband drove me, and we stayed overnight. The testing I cannot remember all of them, but I can recall all of the different rooms and equipment. In one of the testing rooms, I was placed in front of a big screen and told I would be viewing some video clips. The purpose of the testing was to measure my emotions. Other testing completed that day looked at my ability to smell and executive functions, to name a few of the comprehensive testing conducted.

Not to make this all about my test results, but my injuries did result in the loss of emotions, smell, taste and other deficiencies. My point in sharing this information is this:

Even if a traumatic brain injury is not the diagnosis of individuals in your classrooms, trauma over time can impact children's brains as they grow. “Trauma in early childhood can result in disrupted attachment, cognitive delays, and impaired emotional regulation. Also, the overdevelopment of certain pathways and the underdevelopment of others can lead to impairment later in life.” (Perry, 1995)

“The human brain is designed to sense, process, store, perceive, and act on information from the external and the internal environment. All of these complex systems and activities work together for one overarching purpose—survival” (Goldstein, 1995 cited in Perry, et al., 1995). The impact of trauma on brain development is reported in a new study that traumatic or stressful events in childhood may lead to tiny changes in key brain structures that can now be identified decades later.

My plea today is no different than it has been for decades now. We need more mental health support for our children. Training and support for schools are needed as well. These recommendations come from my personal and professional experience. The behaviors we see in classrooms are, most of the time, a result of the effects of trauma.

Ever had a child pushed all of the papers off the desk? I pushed all the papers off the desk in one of my therapy sessions. I cannot believe I did that, but I did. Totally not in my personality, character, or what I would have allowed happening in my classroom. However, now I understand the level of frustration and the inability to process how to handle it. This incident occurred early in my treatment, but I can remember the day.

Every choice we make has a consequence in life, and we need to teach children this early in their life. However, we need to meet them where they are and provide the resources, support, and guidance they need as they grow to develop the skills they need.

Respect, trust, and responsibility are the first basic skills we work on in Two Rules. We all must work on them to make the differences we want to see reflected in our schools, homes, and communities.

Everyone has a story to tell, and I have many. I believe I have been given many opportunities in life to learn to pass on to others. My injuries are not something you can see or identify. I have been provided with many ways to continue strengthening myself and building. It is me who defines who I am and not the titles given in life, names of illnesses or injuries. Please pick up your pen and continue to write your story to share with others as we help in growing a better tomorrow than today. Be the solution daily in a world so thankful you are in it!

My father-in-law was a man of very few words. He always made me nervous. My husband and I began dating when we were in high school. At 16, I guess I was a little worried about many things in life.

One of the phrases I remember he said was, “If you do not like my apples, don’t shake my tree.” During our many years together, we faced many heartaches and challenging times. My father-in-law passed away in 1997.

As I reflect on the many issues facing our country, communities, schools, and families, it seems the apples have fallen from the tree. We have been shaking many of the same issues repeatedly without a solution. Education is being hit hard with a great deal of shaking.

I do not listen to the TV on most days, and in the evenings, we try to catch up on the day's news. However, I cannot listen to all of the leaders push agendas again and hear the same things repeatedly.

Words.

See words standing all alone makes no sense to anyone. They fill up space on a page and float in the air. Unless we can connect them to something with an action, they remain in space.

Money.

It is another word with meaning but still stands alone in space unconnected. It can be used to buy many things, but what does it do once you buy it? Yet we continue to throw it out like words without concrete connections to robust solutions. The sustainability of programs is fueled by money, but answers do not come from money alone.

When will we stop shaking the trees? All the apples have fallen, been picked up, and tossed around, and nothing new has been found. The seeds have been replanted to take root in hopes apples will grow to bring new solutions.

It is now time for winter, and we have time now to begin our plans. We need to connect our thoughts, resources, needs, systems, and supports to reach our final goals. It is not in one single word, one single person or group, but a system of gears working together to produce the best results together for the best outcomes.

Join me in learning how to help our students learn:

We must look at the barriers our students face, like poverty, and address their needs as whole children. There are no excuses but explanations of the “why” in behavior and learning. We can find the right path and solutions with partnerships as we work together.

Focus On Responding

My Two Rule Philosophy is about feeling good and feeling safe. Implementing this philosophy helps children of all ages to learn:

The bolded text is an important part of the philosophy. It is a foundational piece as we work to help children gain self-control by thinking through situations instead of being reactive. Letting emotions drive our thoughts and behavior is something we can help in learning to control and to think before acting.

As I spoke with principals at the recent annual conference I attended, a common theme was heard. Children were having difficulties with making gains in academic learning loss for global pandemic shutdowns, but not being in a formal school setting was more difficult. Having to help teach skills to second graders who typically would have already gained those skills from the previous two years significantly impacted getting back on track.


Respond, React or Reactive?

As situations in your day transpire, do you react or respond? What is the difference? Do you have time during your day to think about your interactions? While driving down the interstate today, I saw the sign flashing on the bridge. It said, “Stay calm and avoid road rage.” I paused for a minute and thought, is everyone reading this as they go by? Do we have a lot of road rage?

Why do we see so many “reactive” situations? Emotions are driving reactions with reactive responses. We can look at the global pandemic with the shutdowns. Now we can see inflation, with families struggling with food, gas and housing costs for their families. We have lots of stress, fears of uncertainty, and anxiety.


Two Rules

Two Rules is a philosophy we should begin in Kindergarten and continue throughout the school journey. Consistency in helping provide a strong foundation for building the skills children need as they grow in all aspects of their learning journey will always help in gaining a brighter future for them, as well as all of us. Leadership is a vital part of Two Rules, and everyone is a leader in some way.

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