From P.E. to culturally responsive teaching, the finalists all find ways to connect to their students.
— Read on www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/meet-the-5-teachers-being-considered-for-national-teacher-of-the-year/2023/01

I want to say I am so excited about the work all of these teachers are doing and I would have a difficult time selecting just one. This is teaching! We need more and more celebrations of the work teachers do and to honor all they do.

Very proud of the representative from Illinois! Excited about the work with AVID as it is one of my favorite programs. There is so much to be excited about with these teachers! Congratulations to each one of them and continued successes #Bethesolutiondaily.

As I was growing up, I had the opportunity to have a few coaches in my life, but I did not do a lot of sports until volleyball in high school. I had a dance coach, youth football PomPom coaches, and a high school PomPom Coaches. What I remember about the coaches is the care they provided with encouragement.

When I began my career in education, I found myself in need of not just coaching but mentoring. It was so helpful to have these individuals provide me with both support and encouragement and resources and information. I enjoyed talking to them about daily issues and having someone with similar problems.

I have a love for acronyms, and that is great because education is full of them. I enjoy using a word and creating an acronym. So when I was able to begin coaching and mentoring, I decided to think about what I wanted coaching to be like for those I was working with during my opportunities.

C=Care

Care for the individual you are coaching and help them to learn the importance of having a caring attitude toward the service they provide. When you are caring, you are seen as trusting. A caring leader creates an environment where everyone feels:

O=Organize

Organized leadership is not just a skill but a habit that entails directing, coordinating, and scheduling individuals within an organization—planning and implementing action steps to achieve its goals or mission. When we coach others, we will guide them in recognizing the benefits of an organization by highlighting the benefits of being stress-free, prepared, gaining more sleep, and being more productive at work, to name just a few. To develop organizational skills, it is best to help provide them with a framework to work from with some of these ideas to start with:

A=Authentic

The best advice I can ever give anyone is to be authentic. Do not try to be someone else. Always be who you are no matter where you are. Trying to model yourself like the previous leader or someone you think the staff wants you to be, is never going to work. You have to be true to who you are. Life is better when you can be who you are. Authentic leaders are passionate, committed, and focused on the future. They are true to themselves and the principles that guide them, modeling what they expect from their team. Other characteristics of Authentic leaders are:

C=Courageous

Courageous covers so much when we speak about coaching, leading, and changing. I did not want to start with the word change as this sparks fear in some and thoughts that something is wrong with them when we talk about change. This is not the case in any situation. Change is about growth. The trees and flowers change depending on the season. We are constantly changing as well and growing! What we do is keep up with the fast-changing world in which we live. We coach others in helping to be courageous to face these changes, barriers, opportunities, and innovations. Courageous leaders understand, accept, and believe:

H=Help

The vital part of coaching is to know our responsibility is in helping our individuals achieve the goals they have set to perform. Not doing the work for them, but how we can support them with resources, suggestions, “Have you thought of? Would you like this if you were? Why would I like this if I was a teacher, student, or parent?” Coaches are always asking questions to help look through different lenses to see all perspectives. Asking questions is an essential part of coaching. Helping to look at all points of view is critical when making decisions and designing programs. As you coach, you are helping them to unlock their potential to be the best they can be. You are helping them to identify areas of strengths, find areas for improvement, and find strategies to utilize to continue to grow. Coaches will be:

Coaching is a great! I appreciate having a coach, being a coach and experiencing coaching. I brushed the surface of coaching by mentioning a few of the things involved with coaching and there is so much more in the depth of coaching relationships. The first thing a coach or mentor will do is build a relationship. Relationships are the most important part! If you are not able to build a relationship then the coaching will not be successful.

I listed these quotes in my weekly, but without their authors. Today I have added the authors. I ignored who I selected, but only in the content of the quote. They have the points I wanted to make about the importance of learning and how we can sometimes forget.


As an educator for the past two decades, boys have been in academic crisis. “Nearly twice as many boys as girls have trouble reading, are diagnosed with language disabilities, and are referred to special education classes. 41% of children in the United States are not reading at a basic level by third grade, and a majority of them are boys.”

In the article America’s Boy Crisis, Crichton writes about America experiencing 26 mass shootings in the last 10 years. These shootings were committed by deeply troubled youth, aged 12 to 25 years old. All were male, and more than half were white.

In his research he discovered, all gave warning signs that were ignored by authority figures. I will state that they were not noticed by many people involved in their lives. Mental Health issues overlooked and not provided to our youth for many years.

Six of these shooters, based on information available, lived in fatherless homes.

Critchlow refers to this as a lost generation—Generation Z, those born between the years of 1997-2012. He describes this generation as semi-illiterate, addicted to social media, and secular.

African American and Hispanic youth have seen reports of academic risks at high rates, also tied in many cases with fatherless homes and other barriers over the past decades. White males experienced similar barriers, challenges, and academic shortcomings. It is not a race issue, but a gender issue. All of our boys are at risk, with some facing a higher level of challenges and barriers, but all at risk.

I know from my involvement in education and trainings, sociologists and experts have talked for decades about social consequences of fatherless households. Now I know single moms can do an excellent job in raising children, but mentioned in the article is evidence in research where the one’s who could not have issues.

“Less time is spent by youth today than a decade ago on socializing, attending parties, sporting, or entertainment events. Drugs, legal, and illegal, are destroying young men. In 2021 alone, 107,000 opioid deaths have occurred. Most of these deaths (69%) occurred among males.”


“Farrell and Gray identify four crises that boys now face: a crisis of education, a crisis of physical health, a crisis of economic health, and a crisis of mental health. All these lead to a void of purpose in many young men’s lives, and a consequent struggle to achieve a sense of self-worth.” -Bob Funk. Warren Farrell and John Gary are the authors of the book The Boy Crisis.

In conclusion, I would like to make a few points to ponder about the young boys in our lives. Since I entered the world of education way back in the late 80’s, boys have been in crisis. I do believe if we would look at the data they were in crisis before I began. All of our boys are in crisis. I will also say our children boys and girls are in crisis. My focus for this blog is on the boys.

Are there specific things you are doing to support the boys in your school? Do you have ideas to share? Boys learn differently than girls. It is important for all of us to remember, one glove does not fit all.

I will have more to share about supporting boys in education. The most important things we need to remember are:


References:

Additional resources for this topic would be Michael Gurian who has written 24 books in the field of education, parenting, and psychology of boys and girls. Christina Hoff Sommers’ book The War Against Boys, How Misguided Policies Are Harming Our Young Men or Michael Thompson’s work in this field. In addition, I discovered an article written by Donald T. Critchlow discussing how mass shootings spotlight a lost generation of white youths mentioned in the blog.

Tom Mortenson, Pell Institute

Michael Thompson, Ph.D. and Teresa H. Barker, It’s a Boy, p.201.

Michael Gurian with Kathy Stevens, Boys & Girls Learn Differently, p.36.

Michael Thompson, Ph.D. and Teresa H. Barker, It’s a Boy, p.211.

Ibid, p.189.

Michael Gurian with Kathy Stevens, Boys & Girls Learn Differently, p.122.

Michael Thompson, Ph.D. and Teresa H. Barker, It’s a Boy, p.186.

Michael Gurian with Kathy Stevens, Boys & Girls Learn Differently, p.307.

Ibid, p.35.

Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens, The Minds of Boys, p.255.

Michael Gurian with Kathy Stevens, Boys & Girls Learn Differently, p.308.

Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens, The Minds of Boys, p.22.

Donald T. Critchlow, Katzin Family Foundation professor at Arizona State University, is the author of Revolutionary Minds: Five Monsters Who Turned Liberation Into Tyranny

We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:15

I love the different aromas from the flower gardens when they are in full bloom, but these are not the only times aroma affects me. How about you?

To walk into Bath and Body works, you are hit with the wall of aroma that fills the store, and if you pass by those perfume outlets, the aromas escape through the doors to linger outside to entice you to come inside. But honestly, they are overwhelming at times.

Have you ever been so hungry that you could smell the aroma from your neighbor's backyard of the grill siring a steak? Maybe you passed a steak house with a giant wave of mouth-watering scents.

People want to experience these effects from the leaders they follow. They want to follow the aroma of leadership, which is pleasant to their senses but not overwhelming.


Five Senses

How do we provide in leadership the aroma people need to accommodate all of their senses without overwhelming them? We can begin by looking at the five senses themselves. I opened with the sense of smell. I love the fragrances we have, well, the pleasant ones, at least.

Regarding leadership, people can smell a “rotten” leader in seconds. This is a pretty harsh word, but when leaders begin by putting on a fake show and not an authentic one, people are not interested at all. If they had tomatoes and didn’t think they would get in trouble, they would throw them.

As the leader begins, it is what people see from their leaders every day that impacts them. How does the leader model what they expect? Do they say what they mean and then do it? Is this a person we can trust?

Communication is a big part of effective leadership. It is not only what you say, but it is what others hear that matters the most! How do you communicate? Are you able to reach all of those you want to share with? Do you speak, send emails, text messages, or send something on Twitter or Instagram? Making sure your message is received in the tone and manner you want it delivered is a vital part of success.

While talking to some former staff members, I realized taste matters in leadership. When we think about taste, we automatically think of food to eat. However, the taste can come in a variety of ways. The best way to the heart of your staff is in the fantastic food treats you provide at breaks, celebrations, and a just because of day. They also consider the taste of style you have in leadership. Are you military-like? Do you make it up as you go? Are you nurturing? Both the food and style are essential!

The most important one I have left for last is how you make them feel. If you pass them in the hallway without a greeting, never ask them how they are doing, do not include them in meetings or conversations, or never return their emails, how do you think they feel? A person will only work for those who appreciate them as an individual. Building relationships is an integral part of leadership.


Aroma or fragrance can awaken all of our senses. People often have a favorite because it means something to them. It can be a special memory, a reminder of someone, and can provide comfort or support. Leaders work to awaken those they lead to take giant leaps, try new things, discover, uncover and develop. Leaders encourage others to grow, share and collaborate with teams. If leaders cannot utilize all of the senses, then shortcomings will create.

Do you have a favorite scent? My husband, many years ago, bought me Christmas, Beautiful perfume by Estée Lauder; I have only worn this perfume for all of these years. I do not think I can ever smell it. I also love warm vanilla sugar and lavender—both reminders of my mother and mother-in-law.

Remember to have just the right amount of the aromas you use because too much will overwhelm your staff!

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!

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!

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!

Happy Labor Day!

I hope you enjoyed a fantastic extended weekend with family and friends. Lots of BBQs, ballgames, and an end to summer. Welcome to Fall! I have to say, it is my favorite time of year, but what follows I am not a big fan of until it comes to Christmas!

I was wrong!

We want to hear our leaders say those three words when they have made an error or mistake. There are many who will speak those words with ease and those who will dance around to avoid them. Well, I want to tell you I have been wrong. I look back over things I have stated and wording used. It is imperative to develop your language, so it expresses your points and positions clearly. Working with my editor, I am learning the importance of crafting your words so they give enough details; readers understand clearly the position, points, and foundation you are establishing.

In the past, I have talked a great deal about accepting changes and being open to new ideas. I still believe this is true, but I need to add more to this statement. Change and new ideas can not conflict with the beliefs, values, and core principles you have established. We can discuss more but reflect on what this means until Thursday.

Good Enough

As a Nation, we have faced many challenges and overcome many obstacles. Throughout history I have been amazed by the many stories of courageous men and women who have exceeded expectations. I have been blessed to meet individuals who have survived being captured as a prisoner of war, a woman who survived the Holocaust to teach me lessons, and those who have survived trauma words could not describe. A poem written by Charle Osgood called Pretty Good is something I have shared before, but something I feel we should look at again as we have a “quiet quitting” going on right now.

How to help Motivate?

I try to think of different ways to keep others motivated and connected. I sometimes feel disconnected, unmotivated, and need a little help myself. So I will start some things myself this next week, and I will share.

Have a great week as we “Fall” into a season of friendships, fun, food, and fantastic blessings!

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