The whole body . . . grows and builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:16

Ephesians 4:4–16 is a great reference to read to connect with this post.

My youngest grandson is with me Monday - Thursday as a preschool student. He is the youngest student I have had regular and the smallest version of students I have had in upper grades. He is very strong-willed, and we work through many things.

As part of our schedule, he has recess time built into the program, so I give him choices daily on what he would like to do. The weather is still cold and does not allow us to go outside yet. We usually play a game together, or he will build something with Legos. However, he has chosen a movie to watch a few times. One of the movies he selected was The Croods.

The Croods is an animated caveman family, and they believe that the only way to survive is if the family “pack” stays together. They talk about the fears of discovering something “new” and the dangers of the world outside their cave.

When their cave is destroyed, they need to move on to find a different place for safety, and a new person is brought into their lives. They begin to learn, accept and understand through other interactions to embrace all of the situations to live life.

The Croods involves two movies now, and both are filled with understanding relationships and embracing change and differences. My grandson laughs and enjoys these movies a great deal. He will be facing a new place next year, Kindergarten and making new relationships. His educational journey in public school will begin.


Relationships can be risky in our lives—-people can and do hurt us. I think it is important to always talk about relationships and how to work to make them better. Having positive relationships takes work. My husband and I began dating in high school at the age of 16. I was engaged at 19, married at 20 and expecting our first child who was born when I was 21 years old. We will be married 38 years this year. We will both tell you, it took a great deal of work.


We were never to be alone in our journey through life. Each of us has a place, a purpose, and a reason. It is not always clear to us what it is, but it will be one day if you have not found it. We help each other by building up in love rather than tearing down. Surround yourself with those who stand, support, and believe in the way you do. When you have a support system like this, you learn from each other, mature and equip yourself to serve others.

Build up in love and find your relationships with those who build up the same way.

I saw a post in an educational group about teachers and administrators calling it quits sooner than later. Some threw in the towel just last week.

I sent a response back with what are the specifics leading to all of these withdrawals so quickly. I did not get a reply back; I am not out of touch, and I do not know many of the issues they all face, but I wanted details. I wanted to know the following:

I have so many questions and discussions I want to have. Why do I want to have them? Because I want to know what I can do to help. As a former teacher and principal, I see the quality of educators I have worked with daily. We had some that were not the best, but we also had extraordinary ones as well. Losing these individuals who know precisely how to teach any child to read is crushing. I have seen teachers work with students who others had no success with before. I enjoyed being in their classrooms.

This I know: People need to hear what they do matters; others understand and want to support them. We must keep the schools that are doing great things for our children. Talk to the school principal and see what you can do to help them and show support. Lift instead of pushing down. Do we have problems in education? Yes! We do. Let’s fix them.

Less than half of middle and high school students say they have an adult at their school they can talk to when they feel upset. Students are facing depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues that are holding them back. However, it is not having that needed support like counselors, school social workers, and psychologists who they can speak to at the time they are experiencing their issues that is adding to their problems.

While talking with other Principal Coaches and Mentors, one mentioned how much the jobs of educators seem to be switching to look more like counseling and mental health supporters. Sometimes the principals help staff to find ways to release anxiety.

Finding ways to help students engage in learning and feel a sense of belonging is a big task, not just for a single classroom teacher to do with their students. A school is a community. Presenters often talk about climate and culture, but they speak about bringing staff to the table to discuss how to improve. Many times they also include how to get families more involved or engaged. How about also pulling up some seats for students?

Bringing students to the table to discuss climate and culture is a great way to engage students. In Two Rule Philosophy, the critical element in building a foundation where everyone feels good and safe, students, staff, families, and the community is involved in helping to develop a sense of belonging. Communities can work to bring in organizations to provide those extra resources students seek to support their needs. Working together, we can give so much to enrich our environment.

Please share with us any ideas you have or what you are doing. Thank you for being part of the solution daily.

I don’t know about you, but I can have some crazy talks with myself! I can talk myself into, and out of some situations I never thought I would be in my life. Negative self-talk can be very harmful!

During our last vacation with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, my husband and brother-in-law thought it was fun to call me different names based on my response to things. “Well, hello Karen,” when I was sharp in my response. “Thank you, Pudding, when I was thoughtful in my response.” All in their interpretation of coarse! We would all laugh and have fun with all of it. However, some individuals have a very difficult time getting themselves out of the cycle of negativity. Getting to know yourself is a priority.

As an educator, I know how much we take home with us each day. Children are not little boxes we stuff things into each day. We build relationships with each one of them and are connected with families. When we see children having difficulties we do everything we can to help pull them up and sometimes it is not enough.

I have told many students to remember, “I will never give up on you.” Many of them gave up on themselves and had no one to continue to support them during challenging times. It hurts educators when a child is lost, no matter their age when life is taken.

Our message is to never give up on you! Always reach out for help when you need it. Remember, there is no need to look back through the rearview mirror, but don’t forget all those who loved you in the places you left. The windshield is big and broad with many places to go. There are many people to get to know and to share life’s journey with as you spread the wealth of knowledge you have in not giving up on being the solution daily in a world that needs you.

The past few weeks have been a very stressful time in our home. Like many families, fall brings changes, and some are not expected.

We took a scenic way on our drive home to miss out on the heavy traffic. We stopped to each lunch in a small town atmosphere place and enjoyed the beauty nature offers us.

Looking through a lens of hope helps us to refocus on the blessings around us. Others have stories the same as we do, but we need to do better when we are in the business of serving others.

Hope is the light we have for ourselves when the shadows of fear and darkness appear. When we have hope, there is nothing we cannot do. Many blessings as you welcome in your fall of changes.

Do you have a favorite story? I think I have so many stories I could not possibly pick just one. I loved reading to my fifth-grade students as they returned from recess. It was a time to get settled back down and ready to re-focus on learning. I loved to select stories to engage the students and challenge them in their thinking. One of those stories was Belle Prater’s Boy by Ruth White, a Newberry Honor Book.

“One Sunday morning, Belle Prater disappeared.” Gypsy wants the facts, and when her cousin Woodrow, Aunt Belle’s son, moves next door, she has a chance. In Coal Station, Virginia, the story is told.

As you read stories to children, you like to have places you can stop to allow them time to think about what was just read and to predict what will come next. The book is 196 pages long, and on pages 72 and 73, Woodrow provides a couple of puzzles to his classmates. My students enjoyed having these in the book. Laughing and enjoying school is what it is all about. Here is one of the puzzles:

C M PUPPIES?

M R NO PUPPIES?

O S M R PUPPIES,

C M P N?

L I B!

M R PUPPIES

The answer is at the end of the post.


Telling a story was the heading I used for the Solution Weekly to introduce stories.

Inside each one is a story to be told. The author of our story should be ourselves, but how often do we allow others to take the pen to try to write in our story?

Storytelling is an art. It is so engaging to listen to a true storyteller who can hook you in with their tone of voice, placement of words, and passion in their expressions.

Stories bring facts to life, make the abstract concrete, and, through meaning-making, walk the listener through the mind of the scientist or mathematician (Ellis, 2005) to understand the value and application of such concepts. Wells (1986) argued that storytelling is a fundamental means of meaning-making.


We ask our school staff to build relationships with students, families, and co-workers, but we do not provide the tools to support the efforts. Every child has a story, and every educator has a story too. Still, we all have a responsibility to strengthen our support to help each other for each child to author a fantastic story.


“Good Morning, and Welcome to Pine Crest Elementary.” Smiles begin to appear as the tiny feet step off the bus stairs. One by one, walking as they hear, “Good Morning and Welcome to Pine Crest Elementary.”

What started as a simple good morning became a daily habit of greeting not just children but everyone as they came through the door, passing in the hallway or the first place they were spotted each morning. What a way to start the day! This is how you can tell if someone needs a little extra support for the day.

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is an easy catchphrase to say. Yes, we are teaching SEL, and we are introducing a 30-minute lesson each day. Is this what is needed for SEL? What is gained and helped with studies of SEL? There are solutions to everything when the right questions are asked.


“Hi Amanda, how are you today?”

Fine.

“I saw you drawing earlier. Would you want to share some of your art with me sometime?”

Maybe.

“Just come to my office when the teacher says it is okay, and I would love to look at it.”

Amanda came to share her artwork with me, and it took a little time to break down the wall she had built around herself. She did not trust anyone, had no friends, and said very little.

Who knew Amanda?

Asking around, no one knows anything about Amanda. Why do we not know? Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, all of the children arrive; some we know a great deal about, and some we don't know anything at all. How is the lesson for 30 minutes helping Amanda with SEL if no one knows her?


Many schools are enormous, so how can we know all students? It is true; you do not have superpowers, but close I would say. Devising a strategic plan is the best way to begin. Always begin with what you know.

Every child in every school should feel seen, heard, understood, and welcomed. Getting to know them is the first step in addressing social-emotional learning. Children need an environment first where they are safe and feel good. Always begin with my Two Rules as you start to form a culture where there is more to learning.

Amanda says, “Listen to what is not said.” Begin to see, hear and feel this year.

ANSWER: See them puppies? Them are no puppies! Oh yes, them are puppies! See them peeing? Well, I’ll be! Them are puppies! It helps if you have a southern upbringing!

Speaking Voice-Listening Ear

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

One of the best ways to build a positive image of your school, district, business, and organization or a negative one is how you communicate. Websites provide others the opportunity to evaluate you. If this page is outdated, not easy to navigate, and does not contain inviting school pictures or welcoming information, you have missed your opportunity to capture their attention.

Websites are one of the best ways to connect with your stakeholders to give them a clear picture of your vision and mission. Letting others know why they want to be part of this system or are proud to be a member is a critical piece of the foundation for continued improvement, involvement, and support.

How do you listen to those who respond to the information you share? Listening to others is critical, but taking action steps is essential. You can listen with your ear to hear, but is it your brain or heart that responds?

Emotions

Our emotions are part of how we respond to the information we receive or do not receive. If you share information through social media, you check to see the likes, shares, and comments you receive. Many times you may find yourself comparing your posts to others. What happens when you do not receive any feedback?

The discovery of learning about the active and inactive engagement is essential, we look for the bonfire, and we miss the candle. Because we listen for the shout, we miss the whisper. Everyone who engages with your information may not feel comfortable “actively” placing a like or writing a comment. Never give up when you do not receive all of the active engagement you want to see.

Have you ever read a post, and it hit you hard with emotions? Please remember that posts are not always what they seem. Truth be Told one of my favorite songs and brings the dangers of assuming others have an easy life. Vacation pictures, awards, celebrations, and so many other things, if looked at deeply, are deceiving. We live in a time where impressing others is more important than living real life.

Stop comparing life with others and live life fully. Take in the moments, all of the wonderful crazy mixed up stories, pictures captured of scenes only families and friends understand, and adventures of travels to familiar places with special memories. Live life and not live life through the lens of social media moments. No one will remember all those posed pictures, awards, or ceremonies, but only the days, moments, and minutes that led to them.

Capturing moments

When we turn ordinary daily tasks into opportunities to take in the beauty around us, we can capture moments to reflect on long after they are done.

The days have been hot! So getting out early to water flowers is a big task! Stretching the garden hose out and around the house is a big job. Once you turn the corner, you are greeted to finish the job by around 12 little hummingbirds zooming around to get their morning breakfast.

Suddenly the task has become amazing as you watch them speed by, dash in and out. They hide from each other in the butterfly bush. The landscaping has turned into a superhighway with some road rage as some fight with each other to get their spot.

The little ones with the light coloring are my favorites in the picture I captured. They seem to be so calm and elegant with a light green tint. None of them seem to be bothered that I stand so close to them with a phone camera, music playing, and my garden hose. I guess they know I am the one who brings the food.

Take some time today, tomorrow, and the next to capture moments to keep in your heart. You can pull them out on days when you need them the most! Enjoy each day in this life journey, even when it throws you some things we do not expect. Be the solution daily in the world that needs you!

Maya Angelou is one of my favorite individuals. She passed away too soon for me. I love her writing; the words she shares and her voice whispers over my heart with tenderness.

I am sharing this story today not because of a political stance or to ask for comments regarding decisions made. I came across it this morning as I was doing my morning routines. I saw her picture, and I always stop when I see her.
My blog posting today.

I wrote the blog and struggled with the message I was trying to share. I did not want to use information about me, but I could not get those thoughts removed from the words I typed. Then this appeared this morning, and I thought this matched the post and the struggle I was having.

"When I was 16, a boy in high school evinced interest in me, so I had sex with him — just once. And after I came out of that room, I thought, Is that all there is to it? My goodness, I’ll never do that again! Then, when I found out I was pregnant, I went to the boy and asked him for help, but he said it wasn’t his baby and he didn’t want any part of it.

I was scared to pieces. Back then, if you had money, there were some girls who got abortions, but I couldn’t deal with that idea. Oh, no. No. I knew there was somebody inside me. So I decided to keep the baby.

My older brother, Bailey, my confidant, told me not to tell my mother or she’d take me out of school. So I hid it the whole time with big blouses! Finally, three weeks before I was due, I left a note on my stepfather’s pillow telling him I was pregnant. He told my mother, and when she came home, she calmly asked me to run her bath.

I’ll never forget what she said: “Now tell me this — do you love the boy?” I said no. “Does he love you?” I said no. “Then there’s no point in ruining three lives. We are going to have our baby!”

What a knockout she was as a mother of teens. Very loving. Very accepting. Not one minute of recrimination. And I never felt any shame.

I’m telling you that the best decision I ever made was keeping that baby! Yes, absolutely. Guy was a delight from the start — so good, so bright, and I can’t imagine my life without him.

At 17 I got a job as a cook and later as a nightclub waitress. I found a room with cooking privileges, because I was a woman with a baby and needed my own place. My mother, who had a 14-room house, looked at me as if I was crazy! She said, “Remember this: You can always come home.” She kept that door open. And every time life kicked me in the belly, I would go home for a few weeks.

I struggled, sure. We lived hand-to-mouth, but it was really heart-to-hand. Guy had love and laughter and a lot of good reading and poetry as a child. Having my son brought out the best in me and enlarged my life. Whatever he missed, he himself is a great father today. He was once asked what it was like growing up in Maya Angelou’s shadow, and he said, “I always thought I was in her light.”

Years later, when I was married, I wanted to have more children, but I couldn’t conceive. Isn’t it wonderful that I had a child at 16? Praise God!”

Maya Angelou

Life brings us many opportunities. In these opportunities, we have choices. The options come in the form of slip-ups, stumbling blocks, and stepping stones. It is how we respond to these situations that project us to the next level and path. We must never forget it is not always about us but also about others around us who are impacted by the decisions we make. Choose wisely as the path you take brings you to your next slip-up, stumbling block, or stepping stone in life's journey.

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