That’s All Folks…

Well, here we are, the end of the school year. Don’t we love it when we can say that? So… this week will be my last blog for this school year. But, for today’s blog, I wanted to do something a little different. While there is always something to write about regarding education, leadership, ramblings, rants, and musings, I thought I might look at what you thought, as readers, were the five most-read blogs of the past school year.

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While each of these five blogs is totally different in their themes, the one constant is always leadership. Leadership, or the lack of it, is always easy to see in others but much more challenging when we look at ourselves. I can remember my mom saying growing up, “Others see you better than you see yourself.”

As a blogger, it is fun to see what people will read. Every week I wonder, is it more about the title or the picture that makes a person want to read? As with most things in life, it comes down to what can get an audience’s attention.

Nonetheless… Here are the five most read blogs from this past school year. Just click on the link to read again or read for the first time (there was a tie with 3 and 4).

  1. Dr. Seuss, Oh the places you will continue to go…
  2. My Pet Peeves… Drives Me Crazy…
  3. Decision Making – Emotional or Factual? 
  4. Things Leaders Should Not Say…
  5. Friendship Thankfulness…
  6. Why you need to be an idealist educator right now…

As we close for the year, I would like to say thank you to the educators who helped “make this school year happen.” Teachers are the backbones of the schools. It is because of teachers, that this school year has been a success. There will be many who say this year was not a success, but I would disagree. Quality teachers are going to do what they do best… teach. Thank you for staying the course. Maybe, many years from now, the future will look back and be amazed that we “taught through the COVID pandemic” and survived.

Personally, I would like to thank the readers of The Book Chamber Blog. Your comments and feedback are always a welcome and it allows me to consider new topics each week. We will pick up next school year… whatever that will look like. Hopefully it will look like what normal is supposed to look like. In case you are wondering what the most read blog is since I have been writing… Here it is… “Ride The Fence” Leadership

As for the summer… this might be the summer we all need! Make sure you take time for your family. Enjoy the moments and the memories. And… if all else fails, read a book.

Now, I have to decide what book I have in my “to read” stack I want to read first…

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

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others…

©2021 J Clay Norton

Want more Leadership Thoughts? Follow me on…

Twitter @thebookchamber

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“A Great Teacher” is what I want to be…

Do you ever wonder if you make a connection with your students? What will they remember about you? With teaching being as much about classroom psychology as it is knowing your subject matter, how students remember us lasts forever in their minds. In a previous blog Memories so thick…, I mentioned the idea of how educators/leaders can create an atmosphere where students make memories, but today, I wanted to take a different look at the same idea.

One of many joys I have as an educator is being able to adjunct teach at the college level. One of my running statements is that I try to “positively corrupt” future educators on how the educational world actually is. It’s harder than you think, by the way. And then there are those current teachers who are working on an advanced degree in education… more than anything else, I try to convey to them the much-needed characteristic of being a servant-leader.

With saying all of that, I have to be minded of the educator I am as well. In my own mind, I think I know what type of educator I am. However, the students throughout my career are the ones who can testify as to what type of educator I actually was.

I love how movie snippets that can say exactly what you are wanting to say, and I have one for us. I highly encourage you to watch the Emperor’s Club with Kevin Kline, if you have never seen it. I believe it should be required of all educators. There is one scene near the end of the movie that sends a message for the type of educator I hope I am and the type of educator I want to be. The message sent is what I wish all teachers/leaders in education would strive to become and be. Not only for themselves but for their students as well. I believe this one clip to be so powerful; I show it at the end of each semester to the class of future educators in hopes they will understand the passion I have for teaching and educational leadership.

Please take 2 minutes and 4 seconds to watch what I am talking about… Maybe get a tissue ready?

Emperors Club – “A Great Teacher” Clip

Here it is in print…

“A great teacher has little external history to record. His life goes over into other lives. These men are pillars in the intimate structure of our schools. They are more essential than its stones or beams, and they will continue to be a kindling force and a revealing power in our lives.” 

This is about as good as it gets for me. This is the type of teacher I hope I am. This is the type of teacher I want to be. I have been very fortunate to have some teachers and mentors like this and they have had an ever lasting influence in one way or another on my life. This is the type of teacher education needs, now more than ever. As we begin to wrap of this school year, make an effort to be this type of teacher. 

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

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others…

©2021 J Clay Norton

Want more Leadership Thoughts? Follow me on…

Twitter @thebookchamber

Want to share this leadership thought with others? Click on one of the social media sharing buttons below and help spread the good…

Teacher A̶p̶p̶r̶e̶c̶i̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ Value

This past Tuesday was National Teacher Appreciation Day, and this is Teacher Appreciation Week. So… a little history…

“In 1953, Eleanor Roosevelt stood up to Congress in hopes of convincing them that teachers needed a day to be recognized for all that they do. Until that point, the celebration of the day wasn’t clear… The National Education Association (NEA) in partnership with the Kansas State and Indiana State Boards of Education, lobbied Congress in order for the day to be recognized. Despite her best efforts, the first National Teacher Day didn’t become an official national day until 1980. At its inception, National Teacher Day was celebrated on March 7 until 1984 when it was moved to May. Thanks to the assistance of the National PTA, it evolved into Teacher Appreciation Week, giving teachers more time to bask in appreciation. A year later, the NEA established that the first Tuesday of the week would be National Teacher Appreciation Day.”¹

Now…
This year, let’s face it… Wierd cannot describe this school year. However, we have almost finished with it, and the credit goes to teachers. This year, more than any other, teachers have taught as they have never before. Instruction has been virtual, in-person, or a mix of both. Teachers have Zoomed in and Zoomed out. While education might have looked different, the work teachers have put in daily has provided a needed constant for communities and students’ lives.

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However, there is a question that I would like to ask and answer. Is there a difference between being appreciated and being valued? I believe so. Often, it seems that teachers are appreciated for what they do, not so much for what and who they are. That, to me, is where the value needs to be – who teachers are.

For example, take a person in your life that you love… Yes, you appreciate the things they do for you. More importantly, you also value who they are and the value they bring to your life. That is what I think is missing with teachers; the value.

By nature, teachers play a critical and pivotal role in educating and shaping children who will become the future of our society. For this to happen, year in and year out, teachers constantly have to renew their certification, attend professional development, plan and work after school hours, provide customer service, spend their own money, etc. After that, even the subject they teach is regulated by the Federal and State Departments of Education. You might say, “Well, good; they should.” I do not disagree with some of it. However, the same scenario goes for doctors, CPAs, lawyers, or any other professional occupation. When it comes to needing help, we quickly value them. Professionals, unlike teachers, are not so much valued for their years of experience but for their production and results. Value towards teachers, it seems, stems only from how long they have been in the system.

Anyway, it is teacher appreciation week, and I value education and the teachers who make it happen. There are some quality, great teachers in our system, but they are often overshadowed by the negativity of education in general. We must have a paradigm shift toward the good that education provides.

Personally, I value the teachers who have had a huge impact on my life and have influenced and inspired the way I teach and lead, and I have had some great ones; rock star status worthy. I also value the teachers I work with; we have some who “bring it” every day. They are hero-worthy.

Value brings better productivity, engagement, longevity, and satisfaction. Let’s change the way we appreciate teachers. Let’s start valuing them. When we do, the appreciation will take care of itself.

¹ https://nationaltoday.com/national-teachers-day/

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

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others…

©2021 J Clay Norton

Want more Leadership Thoughts? Follow me on…

Twitter @thebookchamber

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The Value of Educational Standards… Why Do They Seem Not Worthy Anymore?

Everyone has an opinion on how education should be defined and what the role of education should be. With that being said, education, as we know it, is being redefined based on agendas set forth by those who want education to be “lessened” based on equality.

Recently, the Virginia Department of Education was reported to considering dropping all advanced math classes below the 11th grade due to unequal representation of minority races and is also considering ending honors diplomas for advanced students due to “inequity.” Fortunately, Virginia’s superintendent of public instruction said a few days ago that the state is not eliminating advanced high school mathematics courses. The decision to eliminate honor diplomas has not made any other news as of today.

With all of the above… It got me to thinking…

What are we thinking? Where is the common sense?

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Take this quote from Dr. Randy J. Guliuzza in an article I recently read… “Today, anyone daring to speak common sense is publicly pummeled with disparaging names (or worse) by members of a rapidly growing deviant movement. They use a hostile crowd to systematically isolate people from each other by making everyone afraid to be associated with the pummeled person lest it also happen to them – a method to strong-arm conformity in thinking and control the behavior of an entire group.”¹

This is how I feel precisely with those who are wanting to destroy the idea and ideals for education. It could also be the question that many students will ask in the future, “Why can’t I be educated?” or better, “Why am I being denied to take a course because there are some who are not capable of doing so?” Hard questions that must be answered on the other side of the conversation.

Those who know me know that I am a huge proponent of education and the right of it for all in the name of equality and equity. I have said before that education is one of the last strongholds that can help society “get better.” And it is our job as educators to do what we can to make that happen.

However, when we begin to lower standards (why would we anyway?), we suppress knowledge and limit the growth of students who will be our future. When “education” wants to “level” the playground, per se, wherever the bar is now set, there will always be some who still have to “rise” to that level. Will we continue to lower the bar until all can have “success?” When the standards are lowered, mediocrity becomes more prevalent and eventually accepted. Students who decide to take advanced classes do so because they want to or they need to in order to foster success for what they choose to do in the future.

Now, for those who are going to say, “Well, some students are not ‘smart’ enough to take advanced classes or get an honor diploma.” That’s true. But why should those who are, be denied the opportunity? There were days when school did not even have those types of classes. When I was in high school, I never took an AP, Honors, or Dual-Credit class, and I feel I received a very well-rounded education. My first exposure to calculus was my sophomore year in college. My only “advanced” course in high school was Advanced Math, and that was because that’s what it was called.

Anyway… my thought on what education is and should be for is to allow and help a person better succeed in society when they enter it. Many say, “School is not for everyone.” I agree; that is why education should provide outlets for students to find their niche and be successful in it. That is why the arts and career and technical programs are such an essential part of education and should be promoted as such.

Also, as an educator, I know all schools are not equal and how I wish they were. All schools do not, cannot, or choose not to have the same classes and perform academically as other schools (and there are many reasons for that which can be discussed later). However, I will say that you can find one success story after another of young people who defied the odds and bettered themselves because they wanted to. They decided not to hold themselves back due to whatever reasons and succeed. That is what education provides; an opportunity to succeed for any student who wants to at any academic level.

And let’s add this one other thought… There are many areas of life that we want standards to be kept very high. Just for the sake of conversation, how about these occupations… airplane pilots, medical doctors and surgeons, architects, etc. Let’s also not forget sports. No one ever said they want mediocrity and lower standards there. 

If we start limiting the education of students based in the name of equality and equity, we go against the very definition of what both stand for. This we all know, there is always someone more intelligent than you and those who are not as intelligent as you. Neither case disqualifies one or the other from being a quality individual. In almost every case of life, we choose who we want to become. Let’s continue to let education be a vehicle that helps determine that.

1Guliuzza, R, J. (2021). Refusing to live by lies. Acts & Facts, 50(5), 5.

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

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others…

©2021 J Clay Norton

Want more Leadership Thoughts? Follow me on…

Twitter @thebookchamber

Want to share this leadership thought with others? Click on one of the social media sharing buttons below and help spread the good…