An Educational Pandemic…?

A little long today, but it is the last one for the year…

Well, here we are again at the end of another school year. And yes, it has gone by very fast considering what education has been through this spring semester with the Covid19 and the effects of the pandemic.

As always, many people have many opinions about many things they know nothing about… Just stand in line and take a number to be heard… However, one thing teachers know is education, and I believe that this is an excellent thought to end the 2019-2020 school year.

The Covid19 pandemic has caused a significant shift in many areas of our lives; education being one of them. As a person who is passionate about educational leadership, I feel that we have this one chance to help change education, as a whole, for the better. If we do not, then our future generations will continue on the same path education is now.

Not too long ago, I was having a conversation with my daughter. Now, understand we are a family of educators. My wife is also in education as a school counselor. We were discussing the idea of our “distance learning” and how it is either helping or hurting students. As we talked, I stated that I believe if done correctly on both ends, teacher and student, it would be beneficial. I also told her, that in all practical matters, “education” has this one chance, as I said above, to get “how we educate” right for the future. I gave her the following example, which I saw in a YouTube video…

A long time ago a phone looked like this…images

Now, it looks like this..iphone-xs-iphone-xs-max-21-1

A long time ago, an automobile looked like this…images-3

Now, it looks like this… (I hope you see where this is going)141843-cars-feature-techrules-at96-trev-image1-lffzvrp3ql

A long time ago, a school classroom looked like this…old-school-sarah-akers

And now…?
What has changed?Empty classroom with whiteboard

The above picture can probably be the standard of most classrooms across America.  Desks are lined up neatly, 25 to 30 in a classroom, teacher desk up front, etc. If this continues to be our model, then we might as just well label a school as a factory setting. I am sure many teachers would want to change the look of their classroom, but either they are told they cannot due to “classroom management” concerns or the school does not have the financial resources to change. Which leads me to this…

Educators are the experts in their field of study, yet we are told how and what we are to teach. Now, I am not saying we do not need direction and structure… However, I am saying that if we are going to educate the whole child and help them to become productive citizens of society, we must stop viewing them as a “test score” sitting in a desk… Like then, Like now…

I like reading articles that pertain to schools that are changing the paradigm shift to how they instruct. With that being said, I recently read an article where it stated that when school does start back (whenever that may be) that teachers should focus on students’ social and emotional learning due to the Covid19.

i-am-more-than-just-a-test-score-1024x683My mental response to that is this: If we were educating the whole child, to begin with, then we would not have to worry about their social and emotional learning because it should be an innate teaching characteristic, to start with. It seems that we would be trying to do what was undone, to begin with, somewhere down the road in the past when the education system sold its soul to the idea that we need a “score” to be labeled a success.

School should be a place that edifies a student. Where teachers lead by example and can provide positive emulation. I like to call that the “3 E’s of teaching, which provides “ease.” (I hope you got that)… When we do that, we are actually building the social and emotional aspects of students. Too many times, just as in life, we look to see what makes us look good (test scores) instead of focusing on the whole so we can all look good.

We have a chance to revamp, reconstruct, reorganize, re… “whatever” education, and now is the time. It will take a group of people who are willing to listen to teachers first and set aside predetermined thoughts as to what they think is best for a school. Every school is different, but if we continue to gauge every school’s success the same way, we will create another pandemic, one that there might not be a cure for…

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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The Intrinsic Value of Teaching…

Fictional conversation…
“It’s Teacher Appreciation Week.
Are you serious?
Yes!
I thought we just had Teacher Appreciation Week.
No, that was this same time last year.
Oh… Well, I guess we need to do or say something for them?
Are you saying or asking?
Both, I guess.
We could put something on Social Media.
Probably, but do you think that is enough?
Well, even though we don’t tell them often enough, they know we do.
Yea, they know we appreciate them.
But, do they?”

It amazes me how often groups have to have a “week” named for them to see or hear words of appreciation…

First of all, let me say Happy Teacher Appreciation Week. As I have stated before, “Educators might be the last great hope to help change society for the better.”

I like the word “intrinsic.” A quick lookup would give you this as a definition: “belonging to a thing by its very nature.”

Here are a few thoughts I have…

The fulness of a teacher’s purpose is to totally give of themselves to the absorption of others, where they are seen through eyes that want learning and understand the value it brings. This can only be done with intrinsic value. This is my perspective of what an appreciated teacher is and should look like.

If there was never an “Appreciation Week” or if teachers were never given praise, teachers would still have value, by virtue of who they are. Take a teacher out of the school building and let them “be normal,” you would never know the difference between them and other people. That is one of the beauties of being an educator, we are just like everyone else, while at the same time, totally different. You see, the only agenda a teacher has is to want what is best for students now and for the future. Society is fueled by competition to reward the individual, education is fueled by collaborative work to reward the whole.

The value of an educator can never be taken away. It may be attacked (usually by jealously or ignorance), but it cannot be diminished. A teacher’s value is it’s being. We are nothing more than the sum of what we do; that is to teach. We are one of a few professions that give of ourselves, and the really good teachers do not seek any glory. The glory they find is often seen in the transformation of students, and there you will find that the glory resides within the hearts and minds of those students.

Here is the deal with teachers… We have good days, we have bad days. Each day we try to make it better than the last one. We want to be the best at our jobs. The more our goal is to get everyone on the same page, the more perfect our job becomes. The success of a teacher is found when we can duplicate that day after day.

Intrinsic… “belonging to a thing by its very nature.” A teacher’s value will never be adequately measured.  However, educators know their true value, and maybe that is why they do what many choose not to.

The role of what a teacher does is extraordinary. Make an effort today to say thank you to one. Teaching, an appreciation? YES… All-day, every day – THANK YOU, TEACHERS!

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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Your Leadership Brand…

The value of branding your leadership is not always measured by how many times we hear “Well done,” or “You did a great job,” or “I know you worked long and hard on that project.” Oh, but how we often want it to be measured that way… Our leadership is measured on the impact it makes, not in short, but in the value of the long term, it has on the organization and, most importantly, the people. And that value… unconscionably creates your brand…

As that opening paragraph begins to simmer and resonate in your mind, I think it is timely to talk about our leadership “brand” and the effects of it, especially in a time such as we are experiencing now. I would think it would be safe to say that we all aspire to be quality leaders. Reflectively speaking, it can be creative and fun. Finding new ideas and ways that help the overall picture of what we know “something” can be and then, with the help of others, bring a common good for all is the best feeling.

I also believe one of the hardest things to do is “hope” that your leadership brand has enough weight to carry itself and a group when it is time to have a plan without having a plan ready to go. I once heard the old adage, “It is better to build a plane on the ground, instead of in the air.”

The “brand” we talk with is heard, and we walk with is seen. What are people hearing and seeing as you lead with your brand? It is hard enough to “sell” your brand, much less wanting people to understand your brand and what it is. My leadership style has to be made by me from a summation of lifetime experiences. However, how I lead cannot be a copy based on the brand of other leaders. More times than not, when we copy leadership, it just doesn’t fit well. And we all know when something doesn’t’ fit well, it sure doesn’t wear well.

I think of a person’s leadership brand like I do a company’s logo. Take the company “XYZ” for example (insert whatever company you want). When we hear or see the company’s name or logo, a mental explosion takes place, and everything we have ever seen, heard, tasted, tried, etc… comes to thought. I would dare say the same thing happens when we see or hear the leadership around us.

With all of that being said, I feel the importance, now, of others knowing what our leadership brand is. One thing our brand cannot do is change like the weather. Our leadership brand is what we make it. Needless to say, through all of your leadership tenure, your leadership brand will be remembered. Maybe now more than ever.

One more thought, you know those cattle branding irons? They tend to leave a permanent marking… Well, so does your leadership…

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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Mandate and Motivation…

Liberal and weak leadership that openly questions the accuracy and trustworthiness of strong leadership must be called out. Especially in times of crisis, such as we have now. Too many leaders are putting themselves first, taking center stage on decisions, and giving “after the fact congratulations” to the people who are actually doing something.

Nothing like getting right to the point without an introduction, lead-in paragraph, right?

The call for quality leadership is ongoing. We must rally around strong leaders and help them help others to maintain consistent leadership that can block skeptical attacks by those who subscribe to the “me first” attitude.

How can we flesh that out in practical ways? I think the first and foremost answer is in the way in which we proclaim the good that quality leaders are doing. This can easily be seen in the conviction of the way they lead. This conviction leads to the two ideas I have, that in a crisis, every quality leader leads with a mandate and motivation.

Mandate

There is a mandate for quality leadership. Leadership is a ground that many “want” to walk on, but many cannot. Leaders are called to lead, point-blank, pure and simple. That is the mandate. Any leadership that is weak, self-serving, wants popularity… ignores the mandated purpose of what a quality leadership plan is supposed to be. What’s that? To do right by people. How easy that mandate can and should be. When the mandate of doing right by people is accomplished, it creates accuracy and completeness that many strive for. The mandate is carried out entirely and precisely for others first.

As simple as carrying out this mandate seems, it has to have harmony with the right motivation as to why a leader leads the way they do.

Motivation

We are in a different season with our lives right now, due to COVID19. The motivation we lead with can be very dangerous if we are not careful. Make no mistake, there will always be difficult times in the days to come. With that being said, this is an opportune time to make sure our motivation to lead is set accordingly and not threatened. I believe that the number one way our motivation gets threatened is through compromise. This compromise is usually placed in motion by impulses to put self first.

That is why the right mandate and motivation to lead is all the more necessary and urgent in this time of calling. Weak, self-first leaders are what I want to call… Leadership Terrorists. They sneak up, backstab, connive with other evil to make way for themselves, provide “truth” in the actual falsehood that leads to deception and ultimately leaves a path of destruction behind.

All of this is why we need the right leadership, mandates and motivation, now more than ever before. Despite all the dangers that threaten quality leadership, putting others first will always be the right thing to do. Lead from behind or follow from the front, I do not care… just lead for the right reasons and leading for yourself is not one.

Mandates and motivation… what are yours today?

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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