Brenda's Book "Lead With Two Rules"

In a world burdened by countless rules, Lead with Two Rules offers a refreshing and transformative perspective. The conventional wisdom in education used to focus on rules and regulations, but now, in 2023, the landscape has changed. An alarming epidemic of depression and anxiety has swept through the young minds, exacerbated by the relentless challenges of the Covid pandemic. For principals and teachers, both seasoned and new, this is an overwhelming shift, redefining their roles.

The resources you need to implement your own 2 step program

Building & Creating Climates/Cultures
Student Leadership & Conference
Professional Learing & Guidance
Leadership Resources & Guidance
Two Rules

Building & Creating Climates/Cultures

Welcome to the Building and Creating Cultures and Climates! This space is your go-to resource for everything related to establishing and nurturing positive and inclusive cultures and climates in various settings. 

Whether you're a teacher, a leader, or someone interested in fostering an environment where all voices are heard and growth is prioritized, this space is for you.

Here, you'll find a wealth of information, resources, and activities designed to help you create an environment that promotes teaching, learning, and overall success. 

I understand that building a strong culture and climate is key to unlocking the potential of individuals and teams, and I am here to guide you every step of the way.

Whether you're an educator, a team leader, or simply passionate about fostering positive environments, join us on this journey of growth, empowerment, and transformation. 

Together, we can create cultures and climates that inspire, motivate, and bring out the best in everyone. 

 Most importantly we are collaborating together school, home and community in a Two Rules school approach in feeling good and safe.

Mix to Meet 1

Ice breaker game to get to know your students

Mix to Meet 2

Additional icebreaker to get to know your students

Mix it Up 

Problem solving activity for your students

Pop'in back, Getting to Know You!

Relationship building game to bring staff back together after long breaks, like summer break.

The Artifact Bag

This is a great activity to introduce yourself to your staff, reconnect with the team, and is a fun get to know you activity

Student Leadership & Conference

Student Leadership is needed today. More and more we see incidents of poor choices and poor examples of what a lack of skill building can create if students do not actively engage in approaches to build up levels of responsibility, accountability and leadership. 

Positive outcomes are the goals we strive to achieve and we have known for decades that student-led discussions, along with skill building result in better outcomes.

John Hattie’s research provides evidence on the best practices and the effectiveness the approach has to learning achievement. 

Hattie has been known to state, everything we do in education has an effect on learning, but at what level. 

We only have so many hours in a day to work with the children we serve so why not maximize our time by enhancing the learning and teaching practices.

Class discussions ranks high on the list of practices. 

I have personally pushed for vocabulary instruction, not necessarily as a stand alone curriculum but integrated into what we do daily. 

I have as an elementary principal place a word bank in my newsletter with challenges of words of the week and words of the month. 

As a middle school principal I made a bulletin board with a word of the week. I asked kids to send me a sentence using the word and I would post their response. 

Students who responded received a prize from me as well. 

The board was located in a place all students passed daily multiple times.
"Education is something we do with children, not to them." This space focuses on empowering student leadership and the importance of conferences in providing students with opportunities to take responsibility for their learning. 

It emphasizes the significance of recognizing students' strengths and weaknesses, establishing goals for improvement, and working towards achieving those goals. 

The tag encourages students to collaborate with others, ask questions, and understand that mistakes are an integral part of the learning process, not failures. 

It highlights the role of both home, school and community in supporting students and nurturing their growth. 

Begin a partnership now exploring how we can empower student leadership and enhance their educational journey through conferences and fostering a growth mindset.

One of the biggest additions I made during my tenure as a leader, was developing a contract to sign at a conference including student, home and school. 

Students can present the information with the support of their teachers and work through designing an intervention plan. 

Everyone at the table may or may not have assignments in the contract, but we all sign off on the contract. 

Then a meeting is scheduled for three weeks from the date to check on the plan to see if improvements are working.

Plans are written, but only work when actions are taken with fidelity.

Helpful Articles:

I think these are great ideas for leaders to have. We are always looking for the easiest and best ways. No need to recreate, just insert your school, your name and make it work for your school.

Book List:

A School-Wide Approach to Student-Led Conferences: A Practitioner's Guide
By Patti Kinney, Mary Beth Munroe, Pam Sessions; National Middle School Association

Student-Led Parent Conferences
By Linda Pierce-Picciotto, Scholastic, Inc.

Student-Led Conferencing Using Showcase Portfolios
By Barbara Benson and Susan Barnett, Corwin Press, Inc

Implementing Student-Led Conferences (Experts In Assessment Series) 1st Edition by Jane M. Bailey, Thomas R. Guskey

A School-Wide Approach to Student-Led Conferences: A practitioner’s Guide by Mary Beth Munroe, Pam Sessions, Patti Kinney

Fostering Student Accountability Through Student-Led Conferences by Patti Kinney

Click on image below to download "Letter to families SLC"

Professional Learning Resources & Guidance

Click on image below to download "Best Practices"

End of the School Year Fun

Ending the school year for staff and students in a fun way helps to create an environment of joy. Looking forward to Friday is fun when you have something exciting to look forward too! There are several ways you can engage staff and students in this Flamingo Fun! Here are a few ideas!

Staff: Purchase the flamingo floats on amazon to give at a staff meeting with bottles of water, juice or soda. On the bottom of the Flamingo’s place a number with permanent marker. Explain that each Friday you will be giving away prizes by drawing numbers so be sure to have your Flamingo ready to go! Have a variety of prizes to give away!

Students: Provide students with ways to earn, achieve or just recieve Flamingo Cards! On each card place a number. As the cards are given out tell the kids to keep them ready for the Friday Free Flamingo giveaway. Each Friday draw a number to announce the student winners! Have a variety of gifts to give away. (As the cards are given to students, they can report to a designated place to report their number to place in the container for the drawing. Already have the numbers ready to go.)

Staff: Find the Flamingo-Each week have a designated day and time to gather staff together. We have 4 Flamingo’s that have escaped into our school. We need to find them before students do! When a Flamingo returns a prize you will receive. Only 4 individuals will receive the rewards, unless they share with you!
Students: Where in the Flamingo? Provide the students with a math problem to discover where the Flamingo could be. Example: The Flamingo travled 10 miles south, stopped to eat and then turned east to go 4 miles. The Flamingo bought flowers to take back to the school where he started. How does he get back? Answer:_______ All answers are placed in the container for the classroom. The first correct answer drawn out wins the prize.
Many ideas you can do to enjoy a Fabulous Flamingo Finish!
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Leadership Resources & Guidance

Click on image below to download "How to talk to students"

Click on image below to download "Facing Tragedy and Trauma"

trauma tragedy image of pink rose on black swing in the rain

Click on image below to download "How to Staff Agenda"

Click on image below to download "Letter with Funeral Notification"

Click on text below to download "Family Letter (death of a student)"

Click on text below to download "Student Letter (death of a student)"

Two Rules School Approach

Meghan's Reflections on the Two Rules

Imagine being a fresh college graduate, moving to a town you have never heard of before, and trying to maneuver being a new teacher with school starting in less than 5 days.  This was life for me 14 years ago and it forever impacted my professional career.  I remember my first day with the new teacher academy and meeting my building principal Brenda Yoho, it was at that exact moment I determined that South View will be my new home. 

Meeting Mrs. Yoho was very scary for me since this was my first teaching job and I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but from the first meeting, I could see her passion for our students and education.  She told me early on in the year that she has two rules “Everyone will feel good and safe. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution.” 

At that time, I didn’t know exactly what she meant and how she is going to make this school-wide.  In my head I was thinking, How is she going to make everyone feel safe? Feeling safe is so challenging and safety is on many levels- physical, mental, and emotional.  As the beginning of the year progressed, I continued to get to know Mrs. Yoho even more and quickly realized that it wasn’t just about students feeling safe but also about staff feeling safe. 

Personally, that was a huge eye-opener for me and just confirmed that this was the right place for me to start teaching.  In order for schools to be successful it starts with building the right culture at school between administrators and staff.  You make a lot of mistakes in your first year of teaching and need guidance in order to get better. 

Mrs. Yoho was always that safe person to talk to when I had a celebration in teaching, when a kid needed new clothes because they couldn’t afford them or when I needed some positive motivation. My first year of teaching was very tough.  I didn’t know what really to expect with student behavior and honestly wasn’t prepared for it… at all! I remember knocking on her office door and saying “I need some help with my 7th hour class.” 

Instead of judging me or asking questions that made me feel like I’m not doing enough, she immediately responded with “Let’s brainstorm some ideas together to help everyone.”  We worked together to talk about classroom management strategies to implement and would follow up with me about how things are going. 

These little steps that Mrs. Yoho took as a principal towards her staff showed that she was not just someone who talks about things but puts them into action.  The years I spent at South View made me the teacher I am today and that is because of Mrs. Yoho and the relationships she built with the students and staff.  

—Meghan Siwecki

Click on image below to download "5 Competencies"

Click on image below to download "KICK OFF"

Click on image below to download "Two Rule Philosophy"

Click on image below to download "Five Core Competencies"

Other Resources

Click on image below to download SOS Student Plan

Click on image below to download Prompts

Additionally, I provide a curated selection of resources, such as books, articles, podcasts, and videos, to further expand your knowledge and understanding of building and creating cultures and climates that lead to success.
  • Monthly Magazine Articles
  • Podcast reviews for school principles
  • Book Reviews
"I only have 2 rules!"
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