When you look at Patching Holes, it brings a visual to your mind of a hole. Then the word patching indicates this will be a temporary fix for this hole which will remain to exist.

I have been involved in education for over 25 years. I can testify we have been working on patching holes the entire time. When we meet to discuss the results of the test scores results reported each year, the same things come up in the discussions.

Those are the basic go-to patching holes all school districts address. If I have missed any, please feel free to share it with us.

There have been new approaches, new curriculum materials, lots of professional development, and no improvements. Taking time to look deeper into these issues is what is needed as we now find ourselves leading out of a global pandemic with students who have lost two years of academic, self-awareness, social-awareness, and foundational skills.

What is the solution?


There is a process to follow in making the best decisions for those we serve. It cannot be one school, some schools, all schools, but schools, families, and communities working together to develop plans to support the entire child as we help them build up; it takes legislators to fund schools adequately across all states and locations equally. All areas must have high-quality connections and equipment to serve students.

We do not need to patch the holes in education; we must fix them today. Education is not a political game, and it has cost generations of quality education.


Everyone has two basic needs to have filled. They need to feel good and safe. Let’s begin with my Two Rules in helping all schools, homes and communities with feeling good and safe. What does that look like and sound like?

These are just a few of the points, to begin with, helping to bring action items to the table to start establishing safety. There is a great deal of work to do, but this is the beginning of not patching holes but establishing foundations.

Curriculum in education seems to be something people are talking about right now. However, we are not talking about the right points of curriculum. We need to puch asside all of these extra topics which is adding layers and layers of work to the teachers, not to mention taking time away from students who are two years on average behind in the foundational skills they need in order to become successful in their lives. Children are not reading at grade level and they are not at grade level for math. These are two critical points which must be addressed today. Look at the data. We have seen an overall decline for years. Even those who were at level or above, were not making the gains they should have been based on their skill sets. Can we refocus our efforts on helping students learn foundational skills?

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!

Well, I tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen,
Pour myself a cup of ambition, Yawn and stretch and try to come to life

Jump in the shower, and the blood starts pumping
Out on the street, the traffic starts jumping
With folks like me on the job from 9 to 5
”~Dolly Parton, 9 to 5 released in 1980. This song received a Grammy for the best country song, and she received a Grammy for the best female performance. The song has gone on to produce a movie, musicals, and so much more!

Going to work each day can be redundant. People can feel isolated. So many other issues, and problems come to mind when I think of all of the issues we face today in our work environments. It seems just getting to work; we may be dodging bullets (literally), arrows, and fear to get through or out of the door to begin our work day.

Dodging Bullets

When I write about dodging bullets today, I can mean literally as our world has turned the corner in becoming more violent with the rise of crime. Neighborhoods and cities which were safe are now becoming unsafe. However, it was not my intent to speak about the increased crime but the trauma behind dodging bullets.

Trauma is more than dodging bullets. The phrase, “I dodged a bullet today,” means you escaped a bad situation or something that would cause harm to you. Many individuals around us, or even ourselves, are dodging bullets daily, weekly, or monthly. The circumstances are different for each of us, but the reality is reflected in the environment we all share. Recovering from a global pandemic, higher costs for everything we need, shortages of products, a rise in crime, and the unknowns.

As leaders, we must consider dodging bullets with our staff and arrange a time to address ways to find support solutions.

Arrows

Arrows have sharp points and are shot to have a direct hit at the bullseye. My husband is a great shot! So are those who shoot targeted arrows of negativity at their co-workers. The craft of arrow shooting is spot on when a toxic environment exists within your culture. Individuals have practiced arrow shooting for a long time.

Toxic cultures begin with one. Once they have achieved the arrow shooting with precision with no repercussions, others notice and start to join because of fear. This is when the toxic culture grows, and fear sets in as others remain quiet.

As leaders, we must recognize when these sharp points begin to surface and address them by reminding staff of our core values and beliefs.

Fear

Did you know fear is how people can control you? Fear is an emotion. It is our most powerful emotion and is our defense mechanism. When you are told something over and over, shown something repeatedly and when people you feel are in leadership positions tell you something, fear begins to take hold. Now they have power over you.

Bullying is like this for children. I often tell children and teachers not to give away their power. Power is what everyone seeks. There are lots of steps to take when dealing with bullying, but ultimately it is about placing fear to gain control over you. Children also like to see how far they can go in the classroom to gain more power as well. Why have the power struggle?

We all have fear; it is an emotion to warn us of danger. Fear is a needed emotion but not one we want to get out of control. When our fears overcome us, we have anxiety which can lead to more health-related issues. In the workplace, fear is something we need to address. People should not be fearful.

As leaders, we need to work to help all members of our teams to feel good and safe about being in our workplace environment.

S.O.S

Setting up a System of Support is a great way to help the culture of your work environment address trauma and issues faced.

The system of support will not look the same in every workplace. The framework will be the same, but the elements inside will vary based on the needs and wants of the team. Remember to listen to all voices and pay attention to those dominating conversations; you need all agents.

Framework of S.O.S

SYSTEM:

OF:

SUPPORT:

Taking action steps to help teams dodge bullets and arrows from the past and present to avoid fears today and tomorrow will improve our teams. Let’s become bulletproof on our way to conquering fear and overcoming all the arrows shot in our direction. I can’t, you can’t, but we can be the solution daily in a world that needs us!

Online predators 

There are an estimated 500,000 online predators active each day. Children between the ages of 12 and 15 are especially susceptible to be groomed or manipulated by adults they meet online. According to the F.B.I., over 50 percent of the victims of online sexual exploitation are between the ages of 12 and 15. 

The Internet Watch Foundation reported its worst year on record for child sexual abuse online in 2021 as it confirmed 252,000 URLs containing images or videos of children being sexually abused, compared with 153,000 in the previous year.

Sexual predators

We teach our children at an early age different ways to keep themselves safe. Safety is vital at every age, stage of life, and in every situation. Teach children how to protect themselves from others who want to harm them. Usually, they are people who have earned their trust, and adults Providing as much support as possible is critical to providing safety to children.

National Sex Offender Public Website is one place to find information about offenders near you. Additionally, states also have websites to help find those in your area. In addition, other resources are made available through other educational sites and organizations.

Staying Safe

Safety is a priority. Working on child safety hit home for me when a young girl went missing one mile from my house. While riding her bike, she was taken and later found across the state line in a corn field. Immediately I asked to begin doing programs at the schools to teach students about the dangers and how to keep themselves safe.

They are helping children understand the importance of supporting themselves and others by feeling good and safe is a priority. In my educational career, these two areas are so important throughout life. Jessica was a beautiful girl enjoying country life in a small town. It was a wake-up call for this young mother and those all around. If you think it will not happen, it can’t happen, that won’t happen here; I would like to remind you that it can, and it does.

"Cyberbullying Statistics 2022 Resource"

I wanted to send this out again after talking with my friend Susan Klein. There are many who are working to keep information available to the importance of helping children feel good and feel safe. Two Rules is so important when we see bullying on display on the world stage.

Thank you for your work Susan and sharing with Be the Solution Daily! Utilize the link Cyberbullying Statistics 2022 Resource above for additional resources.

Cyberbullying

Bullying in school is still a concern after decades of trying to address the issue. There are many programs, strategies and techniques used to help address the issue. Technology adds just another platform for bullying.

This is according to the facts located on the stop bullying website. Cyberbullying is any aggressive, threatening, or “mean” conduct directed at a specific individual via electronic communication (email, social media posts, text messages, etc.). Did you know that girls are more likely to be the victims of cyberbullying? Also, boys admit to bullying others online. I have made the statement for years, “It is very easy to type or say things to a computer screen than to a person standing in front of you.” Understanding cyberbullying is an important step to take in beginning prevention.

The importance of having conversations about using technology is critical, but the topic of bullying is also essential. If cyberbullying goes on, it can cost lives. It is a true statement, as I have lost a student to suicide based on bullying at school and cyberbullying. The old saying of sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me ……now I replace it with cause death if not addressed with safety protocols. Peyton will always be part of my heart and memories. She moved away from me, but bullying issues remained a part of her life, unfortunately. I continue to work to stop bullying with you always on my mind.

Try this activity

Materials needed:

Directions: Pass out the materials to students. Ask them to squeeze half of the toothpaste onto the paper plate. Now ask students to try to get the toothpaste back into the toothpaste tube.

The students will work to try to get the toothpaste back in, but it will not go back in. It can be messy; this is why we have paper towels and wet wipes. This is how it is with the words we speak, write, text and type. Once we say, place ink on the paper and press send, it is done—no going back. The choice has been made. There is power in our words.

Helping students understand the power of the words we use, the actions we take, and the choices we make are essential in all of our lives. Everyone should feel good, and everyone should feel safe in the world we live in. It takes each one of us to work together to support the changes we need.

Teaching children about safety is so important. As a focus for all of us this year, we need to make safety in all areas a priority. Safety is not just a simple conversation but a continuation of many discussions. We can begin with a short checklist.

As we have experienced a global pandemic with shutdowns of our educational system and lockdowns with a push for safety against the threat of the Covid-19 outbreak, our children were pushed to an online learning format to receive educational instruction to meet academic needs.

Technology usage brought to light many needs and areas for improvement. When I was a young teacher, I can remember talking about technology safety. In today's world, there is so much more availability of technology, programs, and people utilizing the resources, which increases the need for safety. An excellent checklist has been created for you to utilize for video chats which became part of the educational day.

Safety Threats On-line

Children face safety issues when they are utilizing technology. Adults do as well! The problems facing children are those in which they need to be informed to watch out for and to look for the warnings. Understanding safety is a better approach than addressing the dangers.

Safety issues for children in grades 5th-12th are the areas we will focus on now. This seems to be the age group to address safety practices for technology usage. You see the majority of children in this age group with multiple devices (cell phones, iPads, laptops, Chrome books, and gaming devices). The more social-media platforms they are involved with, the more safety protocols are needed.

Three significant areas to address at this point for safety are Cyberbullying, Online predators, and Inappropriate content. I will follow-up with an additional post to provide more details into these areas.

Tips to Tighten Safety At Home

Technology tips for Families can be a piece of your newsletter home to families. It can also be a corner on the school website. Keeping things updated to keep families informed will help build safety. Providing a list is always a great resource, and adding professional advice aids families in making decisions.

One of the resources provides a downloadable handout for parents and a presentation prepared to provide to families as a family night. More resources to address ages 6-8 years old are provided at this site.

As more resources are found to provide additional information for safety in technology usage, I will share them. Safety is essential in all areas, at all levels, and for all ages. Providing information on ways to help with safety is always crucial. In addition, always share what you are doing for the safety each day of those you serve.

Two Rules has been my focus for over two decades of education. One of those rules is Safety. We cannot just talk about it; we must model and provide it. How?

As schools, we have crisis plans, emergency drills, and active shooter drills. I want to share information with you from research conducted about these drills. Everytown Research & Policy, an advocacy group for gun violence prevention, and the Georgia Institute of Technology reported in December of 2021: “While there is limited proof of the effectiveness of these drills, anecdotal evidence, including many online conversations, increasingly suggests that active shooter drills may be harmful to mental health.” In the same report, it is stated: “Active shooter drills in schools are associated with increases in depression (39 percent), stress and anxiety (42 percent), and physiological health problems (23 percent) overall for children from as young as five years old to high schoolers, their parents, and teachers.”

Gun violence and deaths from shootings sparks high emotions. As an educator from Illinois, I can tell you I have lost several students related to gun deaths, but not in schools. The ends of students occurred as a result of gang violence. If you travel north from where I am located to Chicago, gun-related deaths happen daily. Advocacy to stop the violence is what I ask for and plead for on a daily basis. It is deeper to resolve this problem and why the solution is not easily found. It takes many layers of solutions to resolve all of the issues from the violence we see spreading each day.

School shootings in the United States happen more than in other nations. One school shooting is too many. When it happens, it is devastating to all of us, and we want to do anything, everything, to stop it from happening. Most states have mandated active shooting drills and put in place many safety protocols to take active steps in the prevention of incidents like the most recent one in Uvalde, Texas. Even with all of these things implemented after the 1999 shooting at Columbine, we have continued to have school shootings.

When you least expect it

We all get swamped in our days, and we take shortcuts to save time. Our routines become habits, and we go through the motions. Safety should not be a shortcut and is a habit we form, but it should never be taken for granted in any aspect of our lives. Seatbelts, door locks, safety glasses, gloves, helmets, smoke alarms, and my list of safety items could continue as we add many things to our list. Schools are expected to be safe places. It is not one of those possible places of safety, but a place where parents drop off their children to be safe with trusted individuals.

My advice as a first-year administrator from a man sitting next to me at my first conference: “Do you think your school is safe?” No. “Good, never think it is, and always check everything.” The man stood up to speak to the group as they introduced Mr. Bill Bond, former principal at Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky, during a school shooting.

How to respond

Did you know that all of the school shooters showed warning signs? Also, at least 75% of them indicated their plans to someone! If we can identify these signs, listen to what people tell us and report it, we can prevent mass shootings. Helping children feel good about talking to us at school about things can help us to solve issues before they become problems and grief. We have more than this to do in our work, but we can begin with these steps. I want to stress more than anything to implement a theme, program, or approach that is simplistic and consistent with the program.

Have an existing system of ensuring every child feels comfortable with at least one adult in the building. If you are the principal or assistant principal, every child should know you. Be in the hallways, say their names, get to know them and take time to talk with students if you can make home visits.

Again, if you need help with anything please email me yohobren@gmail.com If you know someone who would be interested in this information please share it with them so they can follow Bethesolutiondaily. My purpose is to help all of you as you continue to serve others!

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!

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

We can see many things around us that can spark fears within us. The world is full of news clips of scary and daunting stories to reach our minds, sending signals of fear. How do we respond to this?

I turn off the world's noise and limit the time I am exposed to media outlets. I may sometimes miss out on a news item that happens at the moment, but I can easily catch up. Prioritizing my exposure to the fears, negativity, and troubles helps me focus on what I need to accomplish daily.

Life is Difficult

There is no phrase to speak truthfully to everyone, “Life is Difficult.” My sister-in-law and brother-in-law introduced a company to me titled “Life is Good.” I have several T-shirts and a hat from this company. The focus on positivity is exactly what I believe in, but I do not want myself or others to ignore the ‘unspoken fears” of those around us.

As an educator, I spent half my career with middle school students. This is an age where many things happen in life for them. Many transitions occur, and “life is difficult” for them as they believe their world is shattered when a change occurs. At times you will find they will not talk about any situations, keep things to themselves, and shut those who care about them the most out. However, they keep those social media platforms going even though they may be the source of the pain they feel.

What to do?

Helping to find the courage to face fears is a significant first step in focusing on the solution. “Unspoken fears” are those as educators; we need to watch for and to provide environments where students, staff, and families feel safe as well as good about where they are.

Comprehensive approaches to support the needs of those we serve are needed in the educational system as we move forward. One glove does not fit all, and meeting children where they are will help identify specific needs. Today is full of opportunities! Be the solution daily for others!

My philosophy of Two Rules has a foundation of safety. We all seek to feel safe. In the world we live in today, safety is the need we all strive to have in every place, in every way, and every day. Gather together to find ways to provide safety for all. Fear is what prevents safety. We can overcome this when we seek solutions together.

Read Ephesians 4:4-16

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