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
Raising Responsible Students

Discipline: Shouldn’t the Home and School Environment be Equal?

The school bell has rung, class is now in session

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I was reading that a lot of virtual schools have been arriving on the scene lately and are geared towards students who cannot seem to function well in a structured classroom setting, or may have an attendance issue, and/or discipline problem. In these virtual schools, a teacher could have up to 400 students because statistically, all the students have not “shown up” for classes anyway; so, it is believed the teacher should be able to handle his or her class-load. I know some colleagues who teach in virtual schools, and honestly most students are not learning but simply working on modules and getting a mark for completion. How can they truly learn in this setting when they are in a “virtual” classroom full of 400 students and one teacher? Not to mention the majority of virtual school have an “F” report card. Check out the following article when given a chance, but please continue reading. https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/virtual-schools/

This type of school has a market because there are so many students no longer being able or willing to obey school rules. So, after either being suspended, expelled or dropped for too many absences, their parents seek out a place their child can attend, and this usually results in either alternative school or a virtual school.

This type of disruptive behavior has also been tied to the reason many of the public-school teachers are no longer remaining in Education. One of the number one reasons teachers leave is because they do not receive adequate support from parents and/or administration when it comes to disciplining disruptive students. I personally have worked in schools that were super structured and implemented consistent discipline, and other schools, where the worst behaved students only got a slap on the wrist from administration and/or parents. So, put yourself in the mindset of a schoolteacher; which should not be hard because most, if not all of us, have attended school before.

teacher has the responsibility to give, share, explain knowledge (also known as curriculum/subject matter) to students. It is also their responsibility to uphold a certain code of ethics, while also being available to answer any questions the students may have in order to increase understanding.

student has the responsibility to learn, obtain, take notes, study, review the material/knowledge that the teacher has taught. Why? So that they can learn different skills they can later utilize in the workplace. Skills such as working in groups, note-taking, presenting, writing, typing, listening, and obtaining new knowledge of different subject matter (while also being able to review prior material learned). The way the school measures whether the student “has learned” is by providing formative assessments (homework, asking and answering questions in class, poster board, presentations, etc…) and summative assessments (unit test, chapter test, benchmarks, end of course or end of grade exams).

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A parent/guardian has the responsibility to ensure they are aware of what “The Teacher” is teaching and if their child appears to be learning the information or not. The sooner “learning or failing” is identified, the quicker the child’s lack of progress can be addressed. Don’t be like this parent:

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It is also the parent/guardian’s responsibility to ensure the child is going to bed on time, and yes this applies to high school children as well because there is a direct link between academic performance and adequate sleep. Let’s be honest, this applies to adults as well.

The way to assess if your child needs to go to bed earlier is by asking the teacher if he or she sleeps in class. (Yes, it is ok for the parent to reach out to the teacher about their child, as a matter of fact, the teachers prefer it because when I was in the classroom, there were times when I had a total of 90 students to contend with, even though they were broken up into three classes.)

So, if the parent inquires if their child is sleeping in class and the answer is yes, then the child needs to go to sleep earlier and a bedtime should be established for their own good.

It would also help your child if consistent disciplinary actions are utilized in the home. This is VERY important. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard students snicker and shrug their shoulders after they were told by a school official, “We are going to call your parents.”

If there is trouble establishing consistent consequences for negative behavior, all sorts of resources are available! Do not be ashamed to ask or look for them. I have access to some and would love to share. Just email me on my contact page or leave a comment below and maybe everyone can share what they do in their home that works.

In my dissertation, The Value of Career and Technical Education in Addressing College and Career Readiness and the Ill-Prepared Workforce: A Study of the Perceptions of Community College Administrators and Instructors; District High School Administrators, and Guidance Counselors, and CTE Department; and a Workforce Employer in North Carolina, every group named in my title, listed “parents and guardians” as the top influencer in their lives, and career or lack of career decisions made. This surprised me but explains why so many past students have become disengaged adults today. Parents, this proves just how much You and Your Presence, matters the most in your child’s life. And if you are not present, your child may experience some of the same behaviors that other abusive-type behaviors produce.

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Students will usually reflect what have been projected on them. Think of a flower, if it is neglected and left to itself, it withers and eventually dies. If a child is neglected, which could include but is not limited to: lack of consistent discipline, rewarding negative behavior, leaving them alone for extended periods of time, not caring who they communicate with online or in person, allowing them over to homes in which you do not really know they parents lifestyle, not caring if they are failing, or not showing intentional “interest” in every aspect of their lives. They will produce an unruly OR uninterested student at school because no one from home will be making sure they are doing what they are supposed to do. This type of student will either be consistently disruptive or become invisible in their classrooms, never reaching their fullest potential. They will end up either dropping out, failing, repeating courses, hanging out with others like them and/or doing some type of virtual school/course in which they just complete a checklist of modules and are PASSED along without learning much, if anything at all. They could end up like the student below:

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I know this is not what any parent would want for their child, and believe it or not, school personnel do not want to see it either but sometimes it just happens because the school can only do so much without the consistent support of the parent/guardian. So, rise up parents, and take your rightful place as the superhero in your child’s life! FYI, Middle and High School students NEED you the most, so please do not slack off once your child reaches these grade levels. I cannot tell you how many high school and middle school students I have counseled from making life-altering decisions, even though some of them still chose to do the opposite because no one at home was monitoring them.

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I spoke to a woman who works in the North Carolina Attorney General’s office and she showed me all of the sneaky APPs available for any child with a smartphone and how deceptive they are. It was super scary. So, the first thing I would do is educate yourselves on those and consider giving your child a phone that does not allow these types of access to strangers. I will share a few TRUE/REAL life human trafficking stories on another blog if you need further convincing on why your teens and younger students should not have access to these APPs. Boys are not exempt either, they have also been victims. If you need me to send you more details about these APPs, email me.

Take an active role in your child’s life because even when they display an attitude, deep down they truly want your involvement and will develop resentment towards you when they don’t receive it.

Lastly, do not reward bad behavior EVER, period. This sets many students up to be lawless in school because they think they can do whatever they want without any consequences. This will usually lead to a life of imprisonment and self-destruction. So never reward evil or bad behavior, with good. It just is not sustainable.

In conclusion:

  1. Teachers do not give up; the world needs you! If you are not getting the support you need, try transferring to another school or school district. They all can’t be bad. It would be worth it to be able to make a difference in a students’ life.
  2. Students enjoy being a kid as long as you can and do not try to grow up so quickly. Watch out for bad influences! This could include but is not limited to people, movies, music, books and games. You will reflect what and who you listen to.
  3. Parents, I hope this has been helpful, you truly have more influence and power than you realize, so make sure you are using your power for good.

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Wellness Tip: Choose more natural cleaning and skin products.

“What greater joy can a teacher feel than to witness a child’s success.” ~Michelle L. Graham

The school bell has rung, class dismissed