Living with principles in confusing times……..


The new year came in January, and now we are facing forward in February, deciding what to prioritize, sorting out options, and choosing directions. Facing February can bring conflicting pressures when we are still focused on things from yesterday and not sure of what is happening in our corner of the world.

Our need for clarity to plan for tomorrow is very high. It also helps us to have a little guidance with guidelines and goals. In order to get to establish goals we need to push away the negative thoughts, those who add confusion and uncertainty to our lives. If we try to take on everything, we will fail at everything. However, if we focus on specifics, the path forward becomes more apparent.


Living in the world today, we will always find complications, barriers, and challenges. These things will question our thoughts, thinking, values, and choices. It is those who know the principles, core values, and beliefs they have which will provide the foundation to stand firm on.

Identify your principles

Principles are the foundation for a system of behavior and reasoning and, most important a standard of belief. Leadership principles are the common denominator in your organization. Principles influence how leaders show up daily and how others react to their leadership style.

Our life will always present our challenges, barriers, and choices. It is in our choices we find the path we take. As we travel the path, more opportunities are provided for choices as our thoughts are challenged, and our core values keep our footing so we stand firm. Focusing on our principles keeps us doing what’s right and helps us shine bright. Keep being the solution in a world that needs you.

Several years ago, I decided not to set goals as a New Year’s Resolution. It is true when you see the reports that most people will set goals but fail to achieve them. Many of the “resolutions” set are unrealistic, or they have too many they do not keep track of and forget. The statistics about New Year’s are interesting to look at, and some do find success.

Many want to find a way to save money, be healthy, and improve overall well-being. I believe these are all great goals to have! We should all strive to work to do these things each day of the year.

It can be overwhelming if you pressure yourself to pay for a gym membership to work out each day and not go. Then you begin to place guilt on yourself for not going and paying for something you do not use. Then if you pay for a weight loss meal program and do not see results in the first few days, you give up. What if you are paying for a financial planner and seeing monthly losses? In your mind, you begin to think it is not worth it.


I have often stated I am very simplistic in my lifestyle. Keeping things simple is the best way to stay focused. I only have “Two Rules” in my philosophy of education and life, I suppose as well. In my approach to each day, I have “one” word to maintain my focus on all I want to accomplish, how I want to live, my passion, and the: how, what, why, who, and when of all the commitments I have, will make and create.

I select a new word each year based on what I see I need to do based on where I am. It sounds so easy, but it is, and it is not. One word is for everything. You apply it to all aspects of life. If you genuinely want to make a difference, then begin with “one word.”


My word for this year is Grit.”

I have had a goal to write a book. I in fact, wrote a book. I wrote this book as I was recovering from my brain injury, and my career in education had ended. It was the perfect time to work on creating and filling the gap in life.

During this time, the world was hit with Covid-19, I developed Breast Cancer and went through my treatments, and I am cancer free. We also lost some loved ones during this time and experienced difficulties with other health scares. You would think it is time to give up, but no.

An individual with “grit” knows it is the passion and perseverance you need to see things through that is needed. So “grit” is my word for 2023 as I see my book make it to the publishers. I have been working with an editor, and I know we will get it right and into the right hands.

As I prepare for the New Year I always select one word to move me forward. My one word for this year is Grit. Take a few days to think of the “One Word” that will move you forward in the new year.

Trusting the Direction

Do you type in the address of your destination, and the GPS produces several options as choices to take? One of the choices is the fastest route. Do you select it and go? Who doesn’t want to get to the destination fast?

We place trust in many things. Can you think of other things we place trust in without having to prove or need to earn it?

When you need support in finding direction, you depend on a support system to guide you. I can think of many examples in life where trusting others or devices is an essential need for survival.

Early in my career, I had the honor to work with individuals who were blind and with hearing loss. I also found myself in need of assistance after my brain injury for a temporary time. All of those incidents, individuals placed trust in someone and something for support immediately. We trusted because we were not in the capacity not to be able to make another choice. We had to trust.


When individuals are hired to join an organization, they can choose to trust the direction the leader is taking them, or they can choose not to follow.

What happens when individuals are not following the direction of the leader?

How can leaders help individuals see the vision, hear the directions and trust the destination set?

If you have been following the Twitter change, many are leaving, being fired, or have chosen to stay. We can watch to see how this turns out for all involved.


Every leader has a different style of how they present their vision to those who are on their staff or team. When giving the vision, they also reveal who they are, the core of their beliefs, and the qualities of who they are as a leader.

As the years go by, we have added more descriptions and definitions to the types and styles of leaders. We have many different deviations of leaders with a specialty focus. However, all leaders still have a core foundation of skills and qualities to help a team or staff work together toward a vision.


Trust your vision

As leaders, trust in your vision. Know the direction you are going and help those you are leading to see the destination. Answer the how, what, why, and who of your plans.

Clarity and consistency are vital as you work on improvements. Collaboration with the team is essential, but lacking confidence will derail the train off the track. Leaders set the directions and do not give directions. A title of leader is just a title, until leaders take action, model and provide example of what it is to be part of the team.

Following a leader is something where trust is not something we do instantly, it is earned. Students will only learn from those they like and trust. Team members will only work and engage with leaders they trust.

My blog post on October 27, 2022, began with students saying. Embedded within the post was an article with data collected from middle and high school students. The data in the paper presented the biggest barriers to student learning, according to a new report released by YouthTruth, a nonprofit that surveys K-12 students and families for school districts.

Anxiety, depression, and stress were indicated, along with students identifying they did not have enough support at school by finding enough adult support. School counselors, Social Workers, School Psychologists, and other Mental Health providers are in need, but there is a shortage. There are not enough qualified individuals to fill positions, nor do schools have the available funding to support all of the additional needs.


Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 24th, 2022, had an active shooter. A teen and an adult were killed in the shooting. With the fast-acting security team at the school, all doors being locked, following the safety drill protocols for active shooters, and the fast response of the police department, the shooter was taken down within minutes of the 911 call. All of this saved lives.

While investigating why this school is a target for violence and why the shooter with no background in violence would commit such an act, mental health is brought up. In every case of active shooters, mental health is brought up as an indication of triggers for these incidents. However, the first thing politicians, media, and others do is focus on the weapons used in the horrific violence.

I intend to bring a spotlight on targeting the core of the issue long before (years), before the few days before they have a breakdown and decide to do such an awful thing to the lives of innocent individuals. Those few minutes in the lives of all who survived will be with them for a lifetime. To all of the families who lost loved ones, the scars of the day are so deep. All of these add additional needs for mental health support for the trauma experienced from extreme events, which mental health may have been able to prevent.


I say…

In July of 2022, I wrote another blog post about safety and feeling good. These are the foundation of my Two Rule Philosophy for school. In having a Two Rule school, the purpose is to meet the needs we all value; Safety and Feeling Good. If you look at all of the rules you currently have, the basic foundation of each one is grounded in one or both of those simple Two Rules. However, they are not simple at all once we dig deeper into how we apply, model, explain, support, and teach all that goes along with them.

We will continue to see violence, anger, and issues with our youth and young adults until we address the issues at the core of the problem. Mental Health is a significant need. It is my professional opinion implementation of Two Rules in all schools will begin to develop the habits, skills, and knowledge needed to form a solid foundation for success not only in academics but in their life journey. In addition, we are advocating for funding to increase mental health support. We need to help more individuals who want to go into the mental health and education.

My final thought to share is this, as my editor is currently working on finalizing my book with me, it was important to me to have the book contain pages leaders can take to implement so it will have those. In addition, a collaboration of teams is significant for me as well, so this is included. When I say teams, I want to clarify what this means. Education is not something we do to children; it is something we do with children. Children, families, schools, and the community are part of the teams. Children will lead the conferences about what they are learning, what strengths they have, what they need help with, and how they would like us to all support them. Communication openly together. Nothing changes until we change our approaches together in partnerships. It really does take a village!

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.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

Matthew 5:14

One of my rules is about feeling safe. As a child, I was terrified of the dark. When the lights went out, I could not see, and what I could not see scared me. How I did not know in reality, even when the light is on, there are things we cannot see we should be terrified of.

We’ll leave the light on for you. Is it an excellent marketing hit for what hotel chain? It is the best phrase and the spokesman Tom Bodett has the perfect tone of voice to capture the emotion the advertisers want.


At this moment, there seems to be a spotlight being used to flash from this political talking point to the next. Some politicians change their points of view based on polling numbers and then personal attacks on each other. I know I have watched these things happen before in my decades of life, but today they seem to be a little more dangerous.

My heart broke as we flipped on the TV going through stations, and saw a report of several people killed. The shooter had been killed in the process, he was 15 years old. Then another story I read about police officers responding to an emergency call of domestic violence which could have been just a way to get them to come so they could be attacked. Why so much anger?


Another spotlight is shining brightly on education. It should be! I am a retired educator and I have always wanted more attention on education, someone to look at the equity of the funding for education and to look at how we support education overall.

Starting my career as a Teaching Assistant and ending as the Director of Educational Support Programs, I have been blessed to see through the lenses of many. I have been in rural schools, urban schools, high-poverty schools, and diverse schools, and I have worked with gifted students and special needs students. However, the spotlight is shining with a twist on education.

What is happening in education, to education, and with education?


Parents should be involved! Students should be concerned! The community should be involved! “Education is something we do with children, not to them.” My Two Rule philosophy includes partnerships of home-school-community. The center of the philosophy is the child. Children are developing and growing on a life-long journey. Our responsibility is to provide a strong foundation of skills to help them reach the highest possible levels and to provide a pathway to success.

Now that the light is on education, it is time to show what you need, what you are doing, and how you will build partnerships to achieve for the students you serve. Step into the light and make your voice heard to push back on the positives you are doing. It is time to let your light shine bright! Please let me know if I can help you. Education for all children is essential to all of us.

Framework

To map out a successful plan to implement an improvement plan, growth plan, or any change, you need a framework to build. In the design stages, you can see the vision of what is required to reach the destination. When we start on a drive to a vacation spot, we always type in the address to see the different routes that can be taken. How long will it take? What unique places are along the way we may want to stop to notice? Are there any areas we would like to spend more time in? Do we see great places to eat and rest? There are many choices to make when mapping out your framework to plan anything you want to implement involving action steps.

Vision

My vision is to bring all educators my philosophy of Two Rules and to provide a clear path for implementing the practices, strategies, and foundation to lead to a lifetime of success. It is more than academic gains; this philosophy helps to build on the five core competencies to support overall growth.

This work is so important to me; we have been reworking and re-writing my book it seems like a hundred times. It is worth all of the profession because it is in the quality of what I give to educators to help them serve the most valuable resource we have, children.

I plan to provide a free Framework for the Two Rules philosophy to those who follow with an email address. I will be setting up another opportunity to receive additional free materials through email. As I retired, I knew I wanted to continue to give back to those serving in education and to support them as much as I could. It is not easy giving all you have each day!

Building

The first step in building is to make sure your foundation is solid. As a school leader, building a solid foundation is something to spend time securing. What is needed in a strong foundation?


Begin with core values and beliefs, then your curriculum, and establish this as a foundation. When core importance and ideas are completed finding a common language is the next big step.

When you play board games or video games, you need to review the directions. Some of the games have similar rules, but some are different. In your school, the classrooms have different rules. Now, we just stated we have core values and beliefs. Then we talked about common language, how can we have different rules in classrooms? It isn't very clear, I know, but true.

At home, kids run into different rules as well. Mom may have different rules than dad; Grandma has different rules than Grandpa, which can go on and on. Rules are written in black and white making them easy to read, but then you have a gray area most people follow. The speed limit says 70 miles, but I am only going 74 miles per hour. I know many are smiling because we have all done it!

Helping our children understand how to follow all of the rules and expectations in a school setting and real-life situations can be difficult. “Miss Clemons lets us chew gum in her room, but Mr. Banks does not.” Who is at fault when the child forgets to spit the gum out before going to Mr. Banks' classroom? A rule was broken, and it became a problem. Now, what is the solution?

Start building your framework for your vision so you can see what you need to change it from a possibility to a reality. Sign-up with an email to follow Bethesolutiondaily, and my Framework will be coming to your email on November 1st. We will continue to build with additional free tools and resources.

There are a wide variety of podcasts to select from to tune in and to help you sharpen up the areas you want to grow. Listening to podcasts is a great way to spend time driving to and from work, doing your chores at home, and taking a walk. Finding the one you want to follow or checking out the wide variety of the ones out there takes a great deal of time, or you can begin with those someone recommends as you start your journey.

Usually, podcasts are around 30 minutes long. Each one will provide you with the time allotted for the session, topic, and highlights. A transcript of the show will be made available at the conclusion and the best thing is the show is recorded for you to go back to listen to again or to share parts with others you want to highlight.

I began listening to podcasts three years ago and have listened to a wide variety of them. I want to provide you with a list of a few I believe you will find to be helpful as school leaders to utilize in all you do.

There are many leaders to learn from! These are just a few. In my decades of growing, I find myself continuing to grow as I enjoy reading, listening, and attending webinars or conferences. My advice is always to keep looking for more to learn! In addition, never be afraid to share your wisdom as well. My friend Danny calls his group “Ruckus Makers,” which I think is excellent! Have you ever been called names? Silly question, yes, we all have! My editor has recently called me radical. I have never thought of myself described in this way. How do you describe yourself? Something else to reflect on as you think about which one of these podcasts fits your needs right now. Bookmark the others to listen to when you have the time and the need. The best thing about these is they are recorded to listen to when you can!

I am excited to introduce you to Mitch Weathers, a high school teacher who has created and designed Organized Binder. Mitch teaches you precisely what I believe is the absolute best first step in establishing your work in becoming a successful school and classroom. His teaching of executive functioning skills focuses on six areas (Organization, Working Memory, Goal Setting, Planning and Time Management, Self Regulation, and Accountability), and he can take you through each one with first-hand experience on how it works with examples from his classroom.

Organized Binder is a consistent approach to teaching the executive functions our children need. It perfectly matches my Two Rule philosophy in helping everyone feel good and safe at school. Teachers are faced with “managing” classrooms and not being able to get the “teaching” they are passionate about doing because of executive functioning skills. Children can gain the skills they need to begin to discover not only who they are but what they can be.

Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. These skills are the foundation needed to build a successful learning journey and life. Children who have experienced trauma and other environmental issues, executive functioning skills have been impacted. Children at birth have been genetically predisposed to have some, but it is through environmental experiences they learn to utilize these skills. Birth to three programs, as well as pre-school programs, are an essential part of the educational journey for our at-risk children. Practicing these skills consistently, seeing them modeled, and being engaged with their use will most likely take risks in learning. Our children will grow more rather than slip further behind without a focus on the need to learn, use and practice these skills.

If you want to learn more about executive functioning skills development by age, a chart on the website is provided to you as a free download along with more information.

I told Mitch this reminded me of our AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program in my last school. Organized Binder and how Mitch presents his information in every classroom can utilize his methods, practice, and strategies. I want to invite you to connect with him at his site. Reach out to him and see if this is something you can do with a group or if you want to try it out for yourself. I want to make sure you know I am not getting anything in return from him for talking about what he does. I truly believe in this best practice for the children, staff, and families we serve.

Thank you Mitch for being the solution daily for the kids who need you!

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