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

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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

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Illusions of Perception… Are They Reality?

Art… “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” it is said. Take any picture in an art museum; what I see and how it makes me feel could be totally different from what you think. Survey a group of ten people; you are likely to get ten different opinions.

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Perception… is it our own reality? Or, is there really an illusion taking place? Our senses tricked to think another way? I would even say it could cause separation anxiety from ourselves, causing us to ask, “What am I supposed to think?”

I’m going somewhere with this… hang in there with me.

Is leadership an illusion of our perceptions? What determines the reality of our perceptions?

I was reading an article the other day, and it referenced the following psychological demonstration from the work of S.E. Asch as an example of how we view leaders.

Read this slowly…

“If I describe a man as warm, intelligent, ambitious, and thoughtful, you get one kind of picture of him. But if I describe another person as cold, ambitious, thoughtful, and intelligent, you probably get a picture of a very different sort of man. Yet I have merely changed one word and the order of a couple of others. The kind of preparation that one adjective gives for those that follow is tremendously effective in determining what meaning will be given to them. The term “thoughtful” may mean thoughtful of others or perhaps rational when it is applied to a warm person toward whom we have already accepted a positive orientation. But as applied to a cold man the same term may mean brooding, calculating, plotting. We must learn to be aware of the degree to which one set of observations about a man may lead us to erroneous conclusions about his other behavior.”¹

I hope that made sense. Just think, change a word and the order, and we have two completely different people… based on nothing more than our perception. I believe this to be our reality as we view those in leadership.

As I read the above example, I have come to a conclusion… leaders and their leadership are perceived only on the notion of what our perception of them is at any given time. More about the effects when we have a stake in the decision as it is made. And that is why leadership is so difficult. That is not to say there are bad “leaders” out there because I genuinely believe they are. However, how we recognize and understand leadership takes on only our perception.

Abracadabra, hocus pocus… what you see is really not there or is it? An illusion of whose reality? It depends solely on you and your perceptions. The climate and culture of any organization are collectively shaped by experiences and interpretation.

Quality leadership that sets leaders apart is the ability to understand different perceptions. What we determine about leaders becomes their perception, which becomes a reality for them.

¹ Asch, S. E. (1946). Forming impressions of personality. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 41(3), 258–290.

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 Conscience… It’s For Others As Much As It Is For You

You know when you have the “gut feeling” about something? Or that “inner voice” you sometimes hear? Call it what you want, but you cannot say that something is not happening… Maybe a tingly feeling.

Your conscience, it’s there… but the question of the day is, “Do you listen to it?” Yes, or no… the decisions you make because of your conscience affect others as well.

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The value of our conscience is a repeated theme throughout our leadership. Clear or muddy, a value is placed. However, how much weight do we put on having that clear conscience in leadership? (We are not speaking of relativism here) External factors aside, no one can really say what they would do regarding the decisions we make. They might say, “Well, I would have…” Yes, that is true, but they really, really cannot say.

We all have, at one point or another, struggled with decisions. Those decisions that keep us up at night, make us fidgety, cause stress… it happens in leadership. While we might see this as a nuisance, I think we should welcome it instead of seeing our conscience as a hindrance in our lives. Decision-making starts on the inside, and for leaders who lead without a conscience, well… it affects others, and it flies in the face of many. So often, we see self-absorbed leaders whose decision-making only affects the results they want. If there is a conscience, it is not working, or they are deaf.

Our conscience is essential in leadership and the role it plays with decision-making. It’s a beacon that keeps us on the right path, alerts us of dangers, and eases our minds. However, I also believe that our conscience is programmed with a life of reflection of our actual selves. How we live our lives, in some ways, determines our decisions and many of those are conscience-driven. Needless to say, everyone’s conscience is not the same.

Nothing is more destructive in leadership than a conscience that relishes self. In the end, our conscience is our witness to our leadership, seen by the decisions made and the long-term effect they have on others.

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…