When you think about feeling good and feeling safe, where do you see yourself? Where is the place those two things happen for you?

Now that you have the place, who is there to help you feel safe and good? Is it the place only, or is it a combination of the place and the people in the place as well?

One last thing, do you have a time you felt safe and good? Do you have all of the things pictured in your mind? I am hoping you will share with us your thoughts. What place, people, time, and anything else help make you feel safe and good?

As a teacher and an administrator, I heard children over my career talk about loving to come to school. As the years clicked by, those words faded, and changes occurred. More violence entered the communities, and schools began to experience more violent behaviors and then attacks at schools. Crisis and safety plans were developed to include “active shooter” training. We added school resource officers to our schools and security measures. If school was a place, teachers were the people, and the time was your childhood when you felt safe and good, then I am asking you to work with me to help make it possible for All of our children.

School begins soon for many on a balanced calendar schedule. The summer is coming to an end before we know it. However, the violence of the world continues, the division of the country remains, and only problems are being focused on with no real solutions with an action plan to address all of the issues.

My roots run deep in my passion for helping children, education, and those who serve to help others in this world we share. It is not you or me but all of us who can choose to be part of the solution in a world focused on problems. We begin with Two Rules and bring HOPEFUL (Helping Out People Everywhere For Unity and Longevity)strategies with action plans to improve together school, home, and community.

July-Countdown

I believe more than ever, your staff, students, families, and community want to know everyone is safe and feel good about being at school. How can you make this happen? We have some work to do and some steps to take to help lead our schools through this season. We begin with step 1 in Safety.

As the leader of your school, it is important to share now with the staff, families, and community your priority is for everyone to feel safe and good at school. It is also important to you to be HOPEFUL (Helping Out People Everywhere For Unity and Longevity); our children can feel this way everywhere they go.

Possible phrasing for communications. Maybe a Facebook post, Twitter, Newspaper, Newsletter, or multiple ways with consistent messaging.

I hope you will join us in choosing to be part of the solution daily as we make every environment safe for all of us. I only have Two Rules. Everyone who walks through the doors of (name of your school) will feel good and feel safe about being here. Before you say anything or do anything, ask yourself, is this going to make me or others feel good or safe. If the answer is no to either question, you should not choose to say or do. Choose to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. The choice is yours to make. We will work together on a culture that builds on leadership, self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and making decisions. Our children will be active in their learning plans as I believe Education is something we do with children, not to them. Children will share their strengths, weaknesses, and what they need help with as they continue to grow on their learning journey.

Student lead conferences are an essential part of the Two Rule philosophy. If you are not already doing this, do not worry, we will have some guidance for this as well.

I would appreciate it if you could share this blog with others who you know would be interested in education, leadership, and working together to help everyone feel good and safe at school. Thank you for being the solution daily!

To gain high levels of learning we need commitment, focus and flexibility. It is the end of the year and if we have not yet captured our students commitment to learning, they have already missed so much. Why are we allowing it to continue? “It is too late, there is nothing I can do now to turn this around.” I have heard this before, my response always is: Give it your best!

Accepting to learn

We have to guide our students into accepting factors to move forward in the learning process. Even as adults, we need to revisit these steps to take to manage our level of learning.

Our traditional instructional strategies provide students with the opportunities to be consumers of the information supplied by the teacher. The pacing is already established, and the routines are based on not allowing for a different pattern of time to include other designs. Students become information receivers, problem getters, and answer givers. No time is set aside for reflection, analysis, questioning, or learning from mistakes or creation.

Role Play

My middle grandson is in first grade. He is an exceptional child and enjoys learning about everything. We were excited when we were asked if we could help him by making a cart for him, he could use to take to school for a social studies project. He was developing a business plan for items he would be selling to his classmates for a profit. Then he could also buy from his classmates as well.

Now I think he is pretty smart! After all, I am his grandmother, but his business plan so far sounds pretty good. He has no cost in the cart. Grandpa and I are using things we have here at home. We did have to buy a couple of things, but they were not much. He has his sister paint pictures of animals for him he will be selling. When she asked if she could have half of the profits from the sales of her paintings, he said no, that was not in the plan. He has stuffed animals donated by family members at no cost. His dad is going with him to help with the setup. He is in great shape for this social-studies project.

This hands-on project has engaged all students in learning about trade, managing money, business, marketing, etc. The teachers have done a great job creating an exciting project at the end of the year. The students will set up their stores and sell to each other next week. I will let you know how it goes. He is currently decorating his stand and making some final adjustments.

Adding value to learning and opportunities allows it to be more than superficial learning. Helping to see the purpose of learning can be an essential step in building the foundation for commitment and dedication.

Opportunities

Providing learning with choices, authenticity, connecting to purpose, and giving opportunities to apply new skills is a great way to help children share their best. So many teachers are creative in how they approach keeping students engaged and excited about learning.

Learning energies of students can help to build their persistence and instill the value of learning. They have opportunities to learn from errors, mistakes, and setbacks when they are provided with a safe place and can contribute freely and create. The best way to learn is when we students can use what they learn to teach others, solve real problems and provide solutions to issues. Learning opportunities are transformed as students are responsible for their learning.

My focus this week is on safety. We find safety in places where we feel comfortable, connected, and relate. Looking at your current surroundings as you read this post, what do you see in your space? I am sure you found elements directly related to your comfort, happiness, and inspiration. Maybe you have pictures, photos, or unique pieces to remind you of the love, joy, and relationships in your life. You have your favorite colors, things, and items placed around you. What about the place you are sitting, comfy blanket, pillow, or cup of your favorite beverage? All of these things add up to provide you with the feeling of safety and comfort.

If I described my safe and comfy place, you would find various things. In my space you find a variety of books from religious, history, thriller, mystery, drama, children books, professional books of teaching, leadership, coaching, mentoring, business, and the list continues. Books are everywhere! You will find notebooks, pencils, pens, markers, and coloring pencils: art materials, paint, brushes, and many other crafty materials. I have a blanket on my chair and all of my technology devices. You will not find the TV remote in my area as this does not interest me as much as reading, writing and creating.

In addition, you will find family pictures around me and throughout the house. Mainly my grandchildren! I have positive, inspirational, and spiritual messages throughout the house. My family says I am like the TV commercial where the guy talks about all of the signs you do not need! We need them. They are there to remind you of turning thoughts into positive ones constantly. One of the most important parts is the smells. I have different smells in each area. I love those scented plugins I get from Bath and Body! I do not have a strong sense of smell, but it comforts me to know they are there.

Your story, your space

As you walk into your work area, what does the setup tell others? As you walk into your building, classroom, office, or restrooms, what story is being said about your space? What goal do you have, and what message do you want to be sent?

I mentioned restrooms because these are so important to outside visitors, as well as those there daily. I once had a visitor come back to the interviewing room and say, “I am impressed by your restroom. You have all of those great soaps and inspirational messages. I love the spiritual messages you have in the restroom.” It was an effort of all staff to create this space, and it was noticed.

One of my former bosses felt that the outside of the building also told a story. He wanted everyone to see the pride we had by looking at our outside and knowing the inside must be great as well! It is what you want your story to be. In creating spaces, it is vital to think about how it makes everyone feel. Do they have input in helping to design the areas to support safety and comfort?

Safe Place

We want environments where everyone feels good and safe. Two Rule philosophy establishes our thought process to always look at these two aspects. Are your environments creating spaces to reflect Two Rule philosophy? How can you make changes to help improve?

Look at the structure of your areas and determine what needs improvement. Ask for input. Make changes and see how it changes the way everyone feels. Designate areas for quiet spaces for others to use when the world's noise gets to be too loud. Libraries are great spaces to create spaces like this. Look at the rooms in other areas and see how welcoming they are to others. Do you have spots for people to sit and talk? Is the building reflective of all? One of the things I loved to do was put pictures of people up with positive messages. An example:

Tell your story in your space

Let others see, know and feel the story you are telling in your space. Do not let them have the pen to write it or the brush to paint the picture of who you are. Make areas reflect safety, a good feeling, and a place everyone wants to be.

I find myself reflecting on the troubles facing Ukraine, as well as others around the globe. Searching to find a safe place takes a different meaning when facing a war. My heart aches for the children, mothers, and fathers as they struggle with facing the fears, holding back tears, and hopeful for more than good cheers. They are in need in so many ways and can not wait for too many days.

Looking to my safe place, I find the reading of Psalm 32, in which David wrote about finding his ultimate safe place. David finds his place with God himself. “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” (v.7). I heard a plea from a Ukrainian woman say, “Prayers are not enough.” The war is rough; the people are tough, but they need stuff! Food, medical supplies, protection, aircraft, weapons, and whatever we can provide to stop this invasion.

What we value is reflected in how we live. My understanding of the current war in Ukraine is a country trying to live with its values. Another country invades with the claim Ukraine belongs to them, living with the rules of this invasion, is not what the people of Ukraine believe or value. It seems the majority of the globe agrees that Russia is in the wrong, so why has this continued so long?

We watch the daily news reports of how Ukraine is battling and seeking to hold its position. They cry out for help from others as they are attacked. Men, women, and children are lost in this continuous battle. They are seeking hiding places and a safe place. Their homes are no longer safe. Echoes of cries, pleas, and a declaration of great need are heard. This invasion on this country is inhumane and absurd.

Trauma

Experiencing a trauma will find people needing to find a “safe place” where they can be free from the world's noise, causing triggers to re-experience the trauma. Individuals cry out for help in different ways! Calls for help are not always verbalized.

As you work, understand the importance of feeling safe in the environment you live, work and learn. Feeling safe is one of my two rules and the depth of this need has gained a more critical role today. Safety is an essential piece of our foundation. As we lead we need to make this a priority. We can discover more ways to help everyone feel safe. We will continue to point out, find resources and strategies to support safety.

My prayers are with all of the people involved with this war in Ukraine. Prayers for safety, comfort, and strength. May the leaders find ways to resolve and end this before more lives are lost. Leaders must lead and not be reactive. Waiting too long to solve a problem makes it more significant. Life is being lost daily. We must unite in this fight for freedom, democracy and safe places for all.

Safe Places

When we hear “safe place,” what comes to mind for each of us? It can mean something different for each of us. What is a “safe place”? When do we need a safe place? Is it during a storm or when we feel anxious? How about a war when you do not know what is happening around you? What is your safe place?

Spring Forward

Daylight Savings time begins on Sunday, March 13th, 2022. It changes one week before the official beginning of Spring! Let’s pray for beautiful spring flowers and a calming of the powers; for peace around the globe.

Breaking a sea of habits, not shore how to begin?

Habits are hard to break once they are created, however with a focus and intentional actions, habits will change. My husband took me on a two-week vacation before my cancer treatments, and we talked a great deal about habits. One thing he is trying to get us both to do is to make it a habit to eat healthy, exercise, and take care of our mental health wellness. I will let you know how we are being intentional!

How leaders can calm the sea?

Leaders are faced with mighty waves on some days. This “sea” of waves can come crashing into the shore, but leaders know how to shift to respond. High or low tides, leaders can prioritize the needs. “Shell” we take a look into ways to help calm the waters? Thursday thoughts will tidy things up for us this week.

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