Categories
Leadership

Building Trust as a Leader – There are Two Sides to Every Story

The school bell has rung, class is now in session

Remember the old adage, “There are two sides to every story?” This is a simple truth that could benefit everyone who takes the time reflect on it, especially when your own ears are being filled with a “story.”

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When I was a beginning teacher, an occurrence took place that taught me a valuable lesson. I had a principal who demanded excellence from faculty, staff and students alike. Whether the principal had known you for a long time, or if you were a new employee; the expectations were the same for every person across the board. Because of this consistent treatment to everyone, the principal gained a reputation for treating people fairly, which in return, built a foundation of trust.

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Side note – As we go through life, we will have good and bad situations to happen, and if we choose to learn, the lessons will not be in vain.

Let us return to the story. There was a veteran teacher that had been communicating behind the scenes with some of my cheerleaders about a potential way to raise money for themselves. When I became aware of what some of them were doing, I reminded the team that fundraising activities had to go through a particular process, resulting with approval from the principal before any monies could be collected. The veteran teacher, being a former coach, continued to encourage some of the girls to continue raising money for themselves. I was frustrated, so I used my first line of defense, prayer. I always pray when I feel that things are getting out of control.

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I knew if this situation continued, I would eventually have to speak to the veteran teacher one-on-one, and before doing so, wanted to make sure my heart and mind was right before God. What happened a week after the incident came as quite a shock to me. The principal ended up summoning the veteran teacher and I, to the office.

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We sat next to each other, while the principal proceeded to walk out of the room. The veteran teacher asked me if I knew what the principal could possibly want with us, and I told her no. I had only been working there three weeks and barely spoke to the principal. When the principal returned, the veteran teacher and I, were asked if we knew why we were called into the office? We both stated that we did not know the reason. The principal went on to explain that we were called in because one of my cheerleaders had been asking for money randomly, and when it was discovered that it was not a sanctioned fundraiser, the cheerleaders were brought into the office and questioned. They were also reminded of the process they had to go through in order to have a fundraiser established. I will be honest, at this point I was seething because I thought the conversation would end with me getting in trouble for putting together a fundraiser, I had nothing to do with, but I remained silent.

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Surprisingly, the principal addressed the veteran teacher, and explained to no longer advise the cheerleaders in that measure because it undermined me as the new coach. The principal went on to say that in the future when it came to fundraising ideas, to let me know because ultimately, I would be responsible the outcome.

Let me digress, we both were a little floored at this conversation, but for different reasons.

Me: I did not know the principal was aware of what had been going on and could not believe how professionally it was handle. It was not spread around the front office, or among teachers in the school. The issue was only addressed to the parties involved, and in our faces, instead of behind our backs. #Wow

Veteran Teacher: Surprised the principal knew what was going on and actually called the situation out.

Ok, let us return to the story. The veteran teacher ended up apologizing for overstepping boundaries, and I gratefully accepted because I like peace. Next, we were told that if there was not anything left to discuss, we could leave. The veteran teacher and I were a little surprised about the encounter, but left the meeting feeling good and as though we had been through something together.

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I gained more respect for the principal as a leader because that situation could have gone in another direction. If it was assumed that I was to blame for the fundraiser complaints just because I was the coach, my professional image would have been smeared in the eyes of the principal because I should have known better. I truly respect that the principal took the time to investigate and dig a little deeper to learn that I had not orchestrated the illegal fundraiser activities.

In regard to your own personal experiences, whether it is at church, work, organizations, among friends or associates; how often do you hear one side of a story, and formulate opinions based on that particular side? Why not try listening first, then consider the possible “other side” of the story before reacting? Many people form opinions about others before interacting with them, and this is a constant misfortune, because a potential benefit to you and/or your organization could be missed.

Reflection Time

  1. The next time someone tells you a story about someone or something, please take the time to remember that you are only hearing half of the story. For example – If someone only tells you about half of the movie; you will need to learn the other half of the storyline in order to formulate a true opinion of the movie.
  2. Think of the peopleyou have encountered over time, and the opinions you have formed about them. Is your opinion of them based on what others have said, or is it based on your personal experiences with them? If you have personally experienced a person, and realized they were not a positive person, then it is ok to have that opinion about them, but if the opposite is true then that could be an issue. This is an important reflection because I have seen people who were good friends, end up falling out of friendship because of half-truths spoken about the other person. For example – The friend would begin listening to others speak negatively about their good friend, and instead defending them based on their personal experience with them, they instead would begin to believe the opinions of others. This demonstrates the power of negative words once they are allowed to take root in the mind.
  3. Make the change today and remember that facts will always outweigh half-truths.

 

            Wellness Tip: Replace Junk Food. Take out all of the junk food in your cupboards at home and replace them with healthy snacks like nuts, fruits, and vegetables.

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” ~John 8:32

The school bell has rung, class dismissed

Categories
Raising Responsible Students

The Controversy of the No Zero Grading Policy

Essential Question: Does giving learners no lower than a 50 percent as an overall grade, even when they have not done anything, helping or hurting the learner?

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In a few states, the no zero grading policy has been making some tremendous waves. Teachers and parents have been wondering if this policy really helps the child or does it hinder. The district leaders have said it gives students “a chance” to succeed but does it really?  Hmmm, inquiring minds would like to know.

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I think the grievance that teachers have, is if a student does absolutely nothing in their classes, the student would still receive a 50 percent as an overall grade instead of what they truly deserved. This further supports their argument that if a student receives a 50 percent first quarter, then does enough in class to earn at least a “C” second quarter, and receives a passing grade on the final exam, they could still pass the class with at least a “C”.

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This fact enrages some teachers for many different reasons.

Reason 1 – Students are receiving credit for doing absolutely nothing.

Reason 2 – This is not preparing students for reality because community colleges, and universities STILL give students what they really earn, not a 50 percent for doing nothing.  

Reason 3 – When a student enters the workplace, they will receive feedback based on their work performance and will not be given anything other than their work performance.

Reason 4 – How would it appear if teachers decided to work 50 percent of the day but STILL expected 100 percent pay? It would be safe to assume they would not have a career in their professional for very long.

            The other thing to consider is that there are cases where students still do not pass the class after receiving a 50 percent, so the no-zero policy is not always a win-win situation for learners. In retrospect, it is about principle.

            Giving a grade without having to earn it is an ethical issue because it essentially is saying that it is ok to do nothing and still receive something. For example, a student that earns a 53 percent by actually turning in work, while another does nothing and earns a 50 percent. Does this seem ethical? By doing this, is our educational system preparing learners to go as further or preparing them to only go as far as their true intellect?

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As education moves forward, what will happen if this no zero grading policy continues? Will it help or hurt our learners? Will it create the Dunning-Kruger Effect in some of these students, where they feel more qualified than they really are?

Giving a grade without expecting work, is like giving a cart without wheels. The cart itself may seem like a beneficial resource at the time, but without the wheels it will become more difficult to use as it becomes full.

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So, does giving learners no lower than a 50 percent as an overall grade, even when they have not done anything, helping or hurting the learner? Just food for thought.

Wellness Tip: Healthy Smile. Schedule a dental exam or cleaning and stick to it.

“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” ~Malcolm X

The school bell has rung, class dismissed!

Resources

https://www.wflx.com/2018/09/24/teacher-upset-about-no-zero-grading-policy/

https://www.fox5dc.com/news/no-zero-policy-at-maryland-school-draws-scrutiny

Categories
Letting go of the Past

Letting go of the Past Bomb

The school bell has rung, class is now in session

I was reflecting on a book I read over 17 years ago about getting people, past events and regrets out and making room for the right things instead. How often are people living a low quality of life because they choose to live in the past by allowing something or someone the permission to have a “seat” in their lives, who should have been asked to “please get up and leave,” a long time ago?

The good news is, that there is a thing called choice, and we all have access to it.

We can choose to continue providing a seat for past regrets, situations, humiliations, and toxic people; or we could choose to ask them to “please get up and leave,” so that we can make room for the present and the future.

I want to preface this by saying I am not only referring to people. I am also referring to habits, occupations and organizations we belong to. Some of us are still working in positions that we should have left a long time ago, but because of job security, decided not to step out on faith.

Some of us have habits that are unhealthy, unproductive and/or expensive, that we need to give up so that we can make room for something better. Some of us are a part of organizations (civic, volunteer, congregations, frat/soro, etc…) that have run their course in our lives, but because of a sense of cause, duty, or validation, continue on in them. This is not to say, do not belong to any organizations, it is to make sure you are a part of the right organization; one in which you are a proper fit.

We have to be willing to let go of the wrong placement, in order to make room for where we are supposed to be. Otherwise, you will look like the illustration below.

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From this day forth, view the bad parts of your past; and all that encompass as a ticking time bomb that will soon explode, and end up destroying your present and future. This may seem a bit melodramatic, but what else will it take to finally decide on letting go?

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Some of us are collectors of useless things, and eventually, if we continue to take care of those “useless unproductive things,” our energy, time and most importantly space will be unavailable when something better is introduced and what happens when you are looking for a seat, and all are taken? You keep moving. This is what good things that are supposed to be in our lives will do if we stay full of rubbish, it will keep moving.

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Reflection

Get a notebook, iPad, or Notepad on your phone. Write down these categories:

  1. People
  2. Organizations I belong to
  3. Habits
  4. Hobbies

Underneath each category, write down The Three P’s:

  1. Productive
  2. Positivity
  3. Passionate

At this point, I would personally choose to pray about this, but overall the objective is to evaluate the categories and see if the items in them should continue having a seat in your life. If you find you are no longer passionate, productive and it no longer brings positivity into your life; then I suggest asking it to “please get up and leave.”

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After doing this exercise you will free up time, energy and space for something better to come into your life and you will appreciate it, when “something better” comes along.

            You may actually be the person holding yourself up, you may be your worst enemy, so don’t be afraid to “Let go of the Past Bomb.”

Wellness Tip: Stretch more often and be mindful of your posture.

“Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.” ~Josef Albers

The school bell has rung, class is dismissed

Categories
Choosing Friends in Adulthood

The Playground Effect: Choosing Friends in Adulthood

         The school bell has rung, class is in now session

Do you remember the time in elementary school when you got the opportunity to go outside for recess? You were probably filled with the anticipation of meeting a new friend or two. As you approached the playground and saw a group of children, some questions may have begun to fill your mind. You may have wondered, “How will I make friends? How do I know which person would be a good friend?” It is interesting how similar choosing friends during adulthood, is to choosing friends as children. Of course, as an adult, we are not usually meeting our friends on the playground, but anytime we are placed in the position of interacting with new people as adults, it could feel as though we are being transported back to that very time.

The playground helped us chart our leisure connection with different individuals over the years, while being exposed to a variety of negative and positive personality traits. The very skills we gain on the playground can transcend to the workplace and friendships as adults. I would like to identify the concept I regard as The Playground Effect. The Playground Effect is a concept I came up with that explains how meeting people in adulthood, is not much different from meeting them as children. Some of us were able to learn from those experiences by being able to recognize toxic personality traits in people more readily; while others continue to ignore red flags and fall into the same traps over and over again.

In order to help you avoid the quicksand, I plan to discuss at least seven personality types you have encountered in the past, and still encounter today as “adults.” Being mindful of these past transactions will help identify personality traits and people you should embrace or avoid.

Let’s talk about the group of 7 people/personalities to avoid according to The Playground Effect.

     1. The Mean Girls (or Guys)

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This group consist of people who typically judge others by what they wear, and the material things they have. They usually lack substance, and cannot be depended on, unless of course it is beneficial for them. The Mean Girl or Guy personality type will like you as long as you are in agreement with them, but as soon as you think differently from the “clique” you may become ostracized. It will be subtle at first, you will begin to notice little behavior changes like being left off the group chat, not being invited along to certain events, etc… Be aware of The Mean Girls (or Guys).

  1. The Sour ‘ole Gossips

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I do not know how many of you have seen one of my favorite movies of all time, Anne of Green Gables, but there was a neighbor name Rachel Lynde who loved to talk about people, and sometimes would be downright insulting. This is a person you may want to steer clear of unless they start to truly change. The sour ole gossip typically talks about other people in order to avoid recognizing or dealing with their own weaknesses. I know it is natural to share common news, but it is unnatural to be hurtful when doing so. The rule of thumb is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you would not want it said about you, then by all means; avoid saying it about others. Be aware of the Sour ‘ole Gossips.

  1. The Back Stabbers 

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The O’Jays said it best, “The smile in your face, all the time they want to take your place those back stabbers, back stabbers!” This is a group or person who will act like they are “with you” but in their heart they do not like you, nor want you succeed. A backstabber may or may not reveal their true intentions aloud, but their actions will usually tell on them every time. Pay very close attention to who you confide in, not everyone who say they are “for you” has your best interest at heart. Be aware of the Back Stabbers.

  1. Fair-Weathered Friends

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A Fair-Weathered Friend is a person who is there during the good times but are rarely there when you need them. In other words, they are not dependable. Fair-Weathered Friends are usually self-centered and only care about something when it is convenient for them. These people are typically easy to spot after a short period of time. Be aware of the Fair-Weathered Friend.

  1. The Emotional Vampire

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This type of person drains people of their energy with their excessive need for help, or expression of constant negativity. This person typically does not like to hear solutions to their problems but would prefer to continue talking about the problem while countering solutions with excuses. If this personality is around you too much, you will start to feel depressed and not realize the culprit. Evaluate your circle of people and pay attention to how you feel after spending time with certain people. It’s ok for people to vent, but if they are venting 98 percent of the time you are around them, it may be high time to separate yourself. Your sanity depends it. Be Aware of the Emotional Vampire.

  1. The Narcissist

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This personality type would take weeks to discuss, but in a nutshell; they only love themselves and none other, so do not take it personal. They do not notice how full of themselves they are, so being a true friend with this person is typically not going to work unless you are willing to be a “fan” instead of a “friend.” This person can only act like a friend to you, when it will benefit them.  So, ask yourself, “is this friendship truly worth it?” Be aware of the Narcissist.

  1. The (Negative) Influencer  

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These are some of the most dangerous friends to have because they can lead you to do things that can change your life forever. If you know right from wrong, it is best not to second guess yourself, and go in the opposite direction. These types of friends will not support you thinking for yourself and will usually try to convince you to do wrong. They are not reliable and are around during “fun times” but will leave you holding the bags when things go south. Be aware of The Negative Influencer.

We first recognized these personality traits at a young age, and even as adults they can still plague us. The good news is that the next time you are at an event and you meet a person, think back to when you were on the playground and the kids you chose to play with versus the kids you ended up leaving behind on the monkey bars; and go with that gut instinct. You can use those same skills today. The interesting thing I have found is if you can remember back to those times, your friend choices have not changed very much.

Take time to reflect, if you have a history of befriending negative people, it is time to make a change. I challenge you to start evaluating your friendships and cutting off the ones who fall into one of the seven categories above and make it your mission to become friends with the opposite of those people. If you use The Playground Effect when meeting new people, you may be able to avoid carrying negative “friend weight” around with you repeatedly. Life is too short to surround yourself with mean-spirited people, there are too many nice guys out there!

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            Wellness Tip: Don’t drink sugary drinks. Sugary drinks are among the most fattening items you can put into your body. This is because your brain doesn’t measure calories from liquid sugar the same way it does for solid food. Sugary drinks are strongly associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many other health problems.

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” ~Norman Vincent Peale

The school bell has rung, class is dismissed