Well, here we are...saying "good bye" to 2016 and "hello" to 2017! There has been a lot of reflection, learning and growth in 2016. What will 2017 have in store? Last year I participated in #oneword2016. It is just what it sounds like. You come up with your "one word" to focus on, live by, refer to...for the year. I even went so far as to create an activity for staffs to help them create their own #oneword2016 slide deck. My friend George Carginilla and I created a similar activity. Here is the 2017 version: #oneword2017Slides if you would like to try it.
Last year's #oneword was easy. I had already created my own 6 word memoir for a presentation, so I just took my word from that. My 6 word memoir was: One who encourages and inspires others. So I pulled out the word "inspire". I have tried to stick to that word in all I do. I ask myself "Is what I'm doing helping to inspire others?" If not, it is time to reflect and redirect.
As I sat down to create #oneword2017, it did not prove to be as easy. Last year's word focused on what I could do for others, this is always easier than focusing on myself. I am looking ahead to this next year and trying to project into the future (which I know is impossible). But I am trying to think of a word that will help me AND others. This is my personal 6 word memoir for 2017: To move forward and embrace the new. My professional 6 word memoir for 2017: Move others forward and embrace new. So, I have narrowed it down to two words: "New" and "Forward". Both of these words are very broad and have many different interpretations...this is purposful.
So there it is. If I have to pick just ONE word, I will go with "Forward" for my #oneword2017! If I keep looking, moving forward, it also encompasses "New".
What is your #oneword2017? Put it in the comments below, write a blog post about it or tweet it out. As long as you are reflecting...you are moving forward!!!
This week, we had a slow chat for #VCHSChat. The topic was "Wishes". I was working that day, so I was able to pop in and out of the chat, but I didn't get a chance to really think about my answers. Today, on Christmas Eve...I am now ready to reflect. *Warning, I have a feeling this is going to be VERY Pollyanna*.
Q1: What do you wish for your students? #VCHSchat
Unfortunately, I no longer have my own classroom, so I do not have MY own students, per se. So here is my wish for ALL students, no matter the age. I wish that students feel comfortable and safe in their classrooms, their schools, their environments. I wish that they feel supported and cared for, in all they do, and are encouraged to think "outside of the box" and take risks. I wish that they are celebrated for their differences and feel valued for their worth.
Q2: What do you wish to try in the new year? #VCHSchat
I wish to try any new experience that gets thrown my way. I wish to take more risks and share those stories. I wish to expand my PLN as well as my presentation and blog audiences. I wish to try more coding and robotics (2 things totally outside of my wheelhouse). I wish to try teaching in some secondary classrooms (big risk for me!).
Q3: What do you wish to change in the new year? #VCHSchat
I wish to change my personal struggles with listening to the chatter. I wish to keep my focus and not let outside factors influence me, if I am on the path to my purpose. I wish to help change educators' mindsets and help to open them up to the possibilities for growth for themselves and their students.
Q4: What are your professional development wishes? #VCHSchat
I wish to provide the professional development opportunities that are needed AND wanted. I wish to take educators to professional development outside of our area. I wish for those that receive good professional development, to share the wealth. I wish that more could benefit from great professional learning opportunities and knew that they have the resources to do so. I wish that there is more collaboration within AND across grade levels, schools, district, county, state...
Q5: What is your wish for others (colleagues, administrators, PLN)? #VCHSchat
My wish for all is the same. I wish that everyone feels included, valued, supported and to know their worth. I wish that they feel comfortable and confident to share their ideas and that these ideas are valued and acknowledged. I wish that they all knew and shared their strengths, yet are open to growth. I wish that people shared their appreciation of each other more, as it's those little things that keep us going.
And there you have it...My wish list as we head into 2017. What are your wishes?? Can we turn those wishes into goals for the new year? Please share in the comments.
I have said the above phrase, many times...in presentations, in conversations. I know this...I try to live this. But yesterday, I was stuck...
Yesterday, our Assistant Superintendent treated our whole department to a lovely holiday breakfast. It was a great time to chat with colleagues and eat delicious food. This year, he did something different. He asked us to go around, the very large table, and share a story about someone who has been influential or inspirational in our life. Had I known this was coming, I would have found that time to take an "imortant call". But I was stuck. I am not one to share my personal life, in public. If I do, I speak in very general terms, as I usually do in this blog. From where I was sitting, I figured I had a good 20 minutes to plan my exit strategy. It wasn't possible. So I began listening to the stories. Many spoke of their spourses, their mentors, their children. Tears were shed by many (including me). But while I was listening, I felt like my daughter feels when there is "round robin reading" happening in her class. Stress, worry...what am I going to say? How am I going to say it? Don't cry...stay strong. You can do this. I was racking my brain to pull a name out to share. I don't want to be too personal, don't want to let anyone into "my world".
I start replaying things in my head...who have I learned from, what have I learned? Who has inspired me? Supported me? I get little flashes of people, but it is fleeting. Alright, I'm up. I do what I always do and speak in generalizations...get the light off me as quickly as possible. Here is what I said (I think)...
"It is really hard to pick one person who has influenced me as there have been many. I try to take learning and growth from every experience, both positive and not so positive. When I think about who is in my corner, I have a few...some are in this room and I am thankful for that. If I had to choose, I would say that my children are what keeps me going. They are who I think about when I need moments of strength. I keep going because of them." Pass the potato...done!
Well, of course, that is not the end in my brain. Time to reflect. Who are those influencers in my life? What have I learned?
My Dad: I lost my dad when my son was 8 weeks old. My son is turning 18 next week. I still have not grieved. But what I have been able to do is try to emulate things that I remember. He was the most kind hearted man, he was so calm, caring and supportive. He taught me about empathy...through his actions. I aspire to be that. He was always positive...his favorite phrase: "Life IS Good!"
My "Aunt": This wonderful woman was not an aunt by blood, but by heart. She passed away about 8 weeks after my father. This woman was so full of life, and always looked on the bright side of things! When I think of her, I think of her sense of humor, and her laughter. I often think of the phrase that she used (usually to settle down my mother), but it resonated with me: "Don't sweat the small stuff!". I really, really try with this one. Not usually successful. When I go down the rabbit hole, I try to pull on the memory of her strength and advice.
Principal #1: This one surprises me. My principal and I didn't have the best of relationships, when I worked under him. BUT, looking back, I credit a lot of who I am now, professionally, to him. I have realized that he shaped my ideas about education, instruction, learning and equity. I think of these phrases as I think of him: "Every student, every time" and "Meet them where they are".
Principal #2: This one was a game changer. This person saw something in me and helped to grown me. She believed in me (at a time when I didn't believe in myself). I would not be where I am today, professionally, had it not been for her. What I took was that everyone has their "spark" and sometimes it just takes one person to recognize it and help it grow. I now try to pay it forward and do the same for others.
People in my corner: It is always nice to know that someone supports you. My corner group has changed throughout the years. Unfortunately, things happen, people come and go. I have a few fantastic people whom I can turn to, when needed. They know who they are becuase I make sure to let them know that they are appreciated. I know what it feels like to know that there is someone behind you, beside you. So I try to be that for others...consistently. I try to check up on others, support, cheerlead, listen...whatever is needed, because that is what I appreciate from others.
My Kids: I don't know how it happened, but I have two of the most amazing children. As stated above, my son will be 18, next week and my daughter is 12 1/2. They are both kind hearted, smart, empathetic, intelligent and have great senses of humor. I try my best to be a good role model for them, becuase I know they are always watching. Because of this, I try to be very concious of what I do and say. This helps me try to live a positive life, so they can do the same.
Naysayers and Road Blockers: To me, life is like a game of Frogger. We are all trying to get somewhere, we have a goal, a purpose. There will be those along the way that will try to detour you. For whatever reason, they are placed in our path, to put us in check. They are that "chatter", they are the ones that put that black cloud up just when you are moving forward. How have they influenced me? I think in a huge way. They force me to always reflect and check if I am sticking to my purpose. They force me to prove them wrong, to move forward...inspite. What also happends, for me...it makes me turn around and do the opposite (after a bit of friction and rabbit hole digging). What always happens is it forces me to focus on the bright spots AND get out of my head and try to be positive for others. I try to do the exact opposite of what has been done to me. I learn how not to be, which in turn teaches me: How TO Be.
Why couldn't I say all of this at the breakfast? Because that is not who I am. Although I can present to rooms full of people, it's very different when you are talking about yourself, personally. So although, I clammed up during this exercise, in the moment. I still hit the purpose...to reflect. Reflection is always good and appreciated. So like the picture at the top implies- Getting out of your comfort zone is where the magic happens. There is truth in that statement...I just needed a little time.
Who has influenced your life? Who have you influenced? Take some time and reflect on this, it is a worthy exercise.
For some reason, I have always seemed to best thrive when I am juggling many different things at once. But what I have found lately, is that the load has increased (due to my own doing) and my effeciency has appeared to decrease. I think it is time to reflect and re-evaluate my load. As my colleague would say, I need to check the "juice squeeze ratio". Is all this effort that I'm putting in, worth it? Is what I'm doing, actually making any difference in our people? Our organization? In education? At all? Do I need to take my own advice?
I don't need to go into what these "balls in the air" are, because I feel that all of you reading, have a very similar picture in your head. And what happens if one of them drops, do they all drop? Do you fall off your unicycle, do you tumble off the tight rope? Does it all come crashing down?
Some of what I do; I feel is my "job" and some of what I do; I feel is my "purpose". For me, these two things intertwine. I have decided to start expanding outside of my distrcit, outside of my role. I was just at a point, where I needed to spread my wings. It is exciting and energizing, but also has had it's bumps. In embarking on this new path, I need to keep my focus. My purpose has never been to benefit me, my puspose is ALWAYS to help move others forward. So, as I am doing these new things, my goal is to bring our district, our people, along.
My hope is that the "juice IS worth the squeeze" as my goals are to bring people together...people who would not have had that opportunity before. To help them grow, take risks, through encouragement and support. But my goals in my official role are the same, I want to support people in their professional growth, I want to help others to best engage and reach all their learners. I just need to make sure that I keep all those balls in the air, and it helps that I am working with some fabulous people who are helping me juggle, who have my back, along the way.
I know that as educators, you all are doing things "above and beyond" because that is what's best for kids. This is why I do not hesitate to do the same. I just want what is best for our educators which in turn is what's best for kids.
So I guess this post was more for me, to work through some things and here I am at the end...My conclusion is that I need to stay on this path, because I believe it is worth it. What I will need to do, is organize...prioritize and learn to lean and ask for help, a little bit more.
But whenever you are stressed, overwhelmed, waiting for the balls to drop...always go back to your purpose. Are you staying true to that? Is what you are doing, inline with it? If not, maybe it is ok to let it drop. It is always good to take stock and reflect.
What are you juggling? Please comment below.
Mother, Teacher, Presenter, GCE Level 1 & 2, Encourager of others.
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