Gimme A Break… Spring Break That Is…

This week is one of four weeks we all long for as educators… Yes, I said, educators. The other three include the week before Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the end of school. As I listen in the hallway, I hear teachers say, “Four more days; Three more days; I will be glad when Friday gets here…”

The need for Spring Break is real, even for teachers. That long break between Christmas and now… The hard thing, though, is making Spring Break last. Joking, at my house, at noon on Wednesday, I say, “Well, Spring Break is over.” I immediately get “fused at” by my family, but it is fun nonetheless.

So, how do we make Spring Break last? I believe it is by not focusing on what you have to do when we come back. Look at what you get to do next week (if you want to)…

Sleep late
Wear anything you want
Go anywhere you want, when you want
Eat when you want
Go to the bathroom when you want
Stay up later than normal
Take care of that much needed “stuff to do” around the house
Did I mention sleep late…?

You get the idea. What you do not need to do is think about the things that you do not have to do. By now, we are at our “wit’s end” trying to keep everything and everyone on the same page. Too often, we cannot rest, relax, and rejuvenate because of our lack of planning beforehand. Get what you need to be done for when we come back today and leave it. The goal is for you to leave the classroom mentally. You know the students do…

Being an educator is exhausting. The 10-12 hours a day get long, and that is just inside the building. What about the time outside the building? Yes, you need a break too. Go ahead and actually take it. Your family will probably appreciate it as much as you do.

I hope each of you has a great one. We will pick back up with the blogs AFTER Spring Break.

Go be a great educator and leader today… Our future needs it…

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others

©2020 J Clay Norton

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Crafting Your Leadership

Outside of what your vision and mission statement is for your organization, the other most crucial aspect of your leadership success depends on how you craft your leadership.

Why? Because as leaders, we are continually making decisions about the people we lead, the culture in which we are, and the strategy of how to always move forward.

So… how do we craft our leadership to meet the above decisions?

Question… Does the culture determine your leadership, or does your leadership determine the culture?

We will pause right here to let you think about it…

I believe how we answer that question will determine how we craft our leadership based on the ideas mentioned above of making decisions about the people we lead, and the strategy of moving forward.

One crucial aspect to consider is knowing who our target audience is. When we truly understand our audience, it is easy to craft our leadership. That is why it is so important to know your people. Knowing your people allows you, as the leader, to have a more significant influence with your leadership.

I have always thought of crafting your leadership as to “whittling.” I can remember my grandfather whittling a stick with his pocket knife, really never knowing what the end product would be until it was finished. As I think about the comparison, I see that he was making a decision about what he wanted to do with the stick he had. It was amazing to see some of the “crafting” he did.

In the end, he determined what he wanted to craft out of a stick. With that being said, I’ll answer the question above… I believe it is the same for us in our leadership, we determine our culture based on our leadership decisions. As a leader, I want to help define the culture, not the other way around. The only way we can do that is to continually craft our leadership to meet that challenge.

It’s been a long time since I found a stick to sit and whittle. I just might do that this weekend.

Go be a great educator and leader today… Our future needs it…

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others

©2020 J Clay Norton

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Honoring “TIME” in Your Classroom…

“I can’t wait for the bell to ring.” Who makes this statement?

The student or the teacher? Or, both?

Being in education, now for 25 years, I would dare say both. But why? A lesson too hard, students too bad, you do not feel well, students disconnected, etc… the list can go on and on.

Here is what I believe, as a classroom teacher, your ability to manage or mismanage time somehow equates to your classroom management or mismanagement.

How many teachers do you see/know that are not prepared for “the day” of teaching? Forget about planning ahead; they usually plan behind… No one, even students, should have respect for unpreparedness. Especially from a professional adult. Now, some can get by with “winging it.” I know a few people like that, but eventually, that “wing” will snap and…

I have also been thinking about how time “flies” (I tend to do that the older I become). What I have figured out… it does, especially if you are enjoying your time. You know where this is going… Do you and your students enjoy your time together? I figure some of you are saying, “You don’t know my students.” You are correct, I don’t, but we know people, and we know ourselves. Find a way to make your class enjoyable because it starts with you. An inviting environment does wonders for time.

Time best spent is when everyone is involved. When a teacher “hijacks” the classroom, like money, students feel cheated. Or, if you always teach to a particular group in your class. You should not have to convince your students you know your subject. The goal is to convince the students they know the subject. Help them make their own discoveries and connections. Teach and facilitate your lessons and fill in the gaps when they have questions.

Most importantly, be prompt and pace the lessons. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone learns at the same pace. Yes, you might just have to repeat or redo some parts. And you know what, that’s good teaching. Do not rush a lesson because you have to get to the next standard or section. You might miss a valuable foundation that can change someone’s learning.

As a leader in the classroom, you take responsibility for the timing and the environment. This goes for any leader in any situation. All you need to do is change the classroom to a meeting or function and change lessons to agendas.

Of all the “things” educators cannot control, the two things that we can is our classroom time and management. Set one, and the other should follow. You set the standard with both, and please do not lower them.

Go be a great educator today… Our future needs it…

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others

©2020 J Clay Norton

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Reaching a Student’s Heart…

Never to miss an opportunity to write about the seasonal theme… Happy Valentines.

Does the door of your classroom describe happiness? Or does it create doom and gloom? Just like the entryway into your classroom, the same can be said for the entryway into your students; their heart, and you are the doorkeeper.

We do not always know what students bring when they walk into our classrooms, but we do know that we have them for an allotted amount of time each week. We must know their name, listen to their stories, and answer their questions. In return, odds are, they will do the same.

Reaching a student’s heart is not an easy task. As educators, we are more psychologists than we are anything else. The world we live in is moody, fickle, and most often stubborn. If we are the same, then why would we expect our students to be any different? I realize our job is to teach our subject, but more than that, we are to encourage students; build them up. They are already being torn down in other areas… We need to try to summon the best out of them. We might not reach them all, but the effort, on our part, should not be denied. I find it amazing what a little bit of affirmation does for a student.

As a leader, teacher, whatever your role is… Do you distribute happiness for a student’s heart? Or are students left forgotten in the back of the class? Are you willing to reach out? When you do, respect takes on a whole new dimension. Respect is just being mindful of others. A simple hello and acknowledging a student shows intention on your part; why would you not?

Reaching a student’s heart… small endeavors by you could mean something huge for a student. I would dare say that most young people want a sense of belonging. Help them find that with you. Nothing more than a kind word is the purest of all gestures. Odds are they will not recall a whole lot of the subject matter you teach, but they just might remember how you made their heart feel.

Each of us has this opportunity every day. Make good on it… and tell your students Happy Valentines today.

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others

©2020 J Clay Norton

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