Here. We. Go.
It has been one year since I last posted on my blog. My #oneword last year was BALANCE. Part of that included focusing on my personal life instead of my professional life. And I would argue I was pretty darn successful with that!
2017 was amazing... here is a recap of the year.
In February, myself and my cohort, did our final presentations to defend our administrative credentials. While it was an extremely taxing experience, it was also so rewarding. I met some amazing people. Our cohort truly operated as that. We responded to each other's late night emails, we could present with anyone in the group, and we learned each other's body language. But there is always one. While Lauren and I don't teach in the same school district, I don't know that I could have finished the program without her. She always responded to my desperate texts of bewilderment and/or frustration. Lauren was my lifeline.
I traveled to Nashville for the first time with Brent. He had a a work trip planned and I tagged along.
Graduation. A day a whole year coming. In May I graduated with my Masters Degree in Administrative Leadership. I had always said that I would NEVER get a Masters Degree. It always intimidated me and I thought it just wasn't in the cards for me. Apparently I should learn to never say never. Now one might ask what I am going to do with said Masters Degree. And my response to that is that I have no idea. I'm content in my current job which I love, so I guess for now I wait and see.
I got engaged. Which is ironic because years ago I had said I would NEVER get married again. Is anyone seeing a theme here?
In July I traveled with Brent and his family to Hawaii, the island of Kauai. This was my first ever trip to the islands and it was everything I had imagined! I can't wait to go back!
Later in the month, I was honored to be a maid of honor for the first time EVER for my best friend Allison.
My school, Mountain View Elementary, won an award for our STEM work. My school was honored at the Ventura County STEM Awards. I was so honored when my principal, Jenny Goldman, asked me to attend on behalf of the school.
I got married. Brent and I secretly eloped to Yosemite and it was simply beautiful and exactly what we wanted. We left from there and flew to Chicago, a first time visit for both of us!
Heading into 2018....
As a result of my balancing out, I tried less new things in my classroom, was quieter in staff meetings, and didn't participate in Twitter chats every week. I was able to catch my breath and truly enjoyed my year. I am entering 2018 feeling refreshed and recharged and ready for what's next (whatever that is!). After a lot of thinking and reflecting, my #oneword2018 is Trust. Trusting the process, the journey and cycles of life, the next step, my intuition, and so much more. 2018, let's do this.
*I've written and rewritten this post a million times, honest reflection can be so hard to write out!*
The end of 2016 brings about a time for reflection for the year and WOW, what a year it was! Professionally, this year will be hard to top in the future. The purpose of this post is to reflect on my accomplishments of the year in order to set intentions for the next year. My One Word for 2016 was RISK and I think I managed to accomplish that! But at the end of it all, I realize that something needs to change.
This year was without a doubt indescribable in terms of my professional career. Yet despite all of these accomplishments, I think the thing I am most proud of is stepping up as more of a leader on my school site and helping other teachers to step out of their comfort zones and try new things. I’m also proud that I can say that I love my job AND my students because I know not everyone can say that.
As I read back through the list I created of my accomplishments, I am feeling so humbled that I have this many things to write about and also feeling some trepidation for the year to come. While this year was abundant professionally, I feel like many aspects of my personal life suffered as a result. As a result, my #OneWord2017 is BALANCE. I’m looking forward to leading and teaching in 2017 through an example of being centered and balanced.
...a story of connection....
I knew I wanted to be a teacher by the time I finished the first grade. While I don’t remember any of the teaching strategies that my first grade teacher, Mrs. Moore, used or any of the content even; she made such a profound mark on me that I knew when I was 6 years old what I was going to do with my life. What I remember about her class was that I loved being there. I remember she loved cows and had cow decorations all over. I remember that she talked to me and engaged with me about things that were happening in my life. I remember that I knew she liked me. My younger brother was hospitalized during this year as a result of having a stroke, so Mrs.Moore frequently entertained me after school during the times that my parents had obligations at the hospital. Reflecting back on Mrs. Moore, and adding in what I know now, I can see that Mrs. Moore excelled at relationship building and that set her apart from my other teachers.
While I have always enjoyed school, that first grade year I remember with such fondness. The following year my younger brother (who made a remarkable recovery from his stroke) had Mrs. Moore for first grade as well. Over those two years, my mother and Mrs. Moore had developed a friendship. I remember going to her house to go swimming and being delighted that her house had an equal amount of cow decorations as her classroom. However, that year Mrs. Moore was diagnosed with cancer. While I do not remember the details of her cancer, I know it was quick moving as she passed that school year. Her funeral was the first I ever attended and I remember that despite my sadness, I wanted to be just like her.
Flash forward many years, and I remember thinking about Mrs. Moore the day I walked in my college graduation with my bachelors degree and my multiple subject teaching credential. I remember smiling that I had completed it despite many people trying to argue me out of it because “teachers make so little money.” I knew from my first grade experience that I was not going into teaching for the money, I was going into to make a difference for kids.
So bottom line, how are you communicating to kids that you like them? That they are valued? How do you create connection with kids?
3 Tips to Creating Connection
1. Greet them at the door and look pleased to see them.
Not kidding. Kids want to believe that each and every day you are just as equally happy they are there as the day before.
2. Ask them questions and listen to the answers.
For real. Ask them what they did on the weekend. Listen to their answer. Then ask a follow-up question. Remember what they told you on Friday about the weekend, then ask on Monday about it.
3. Be neutral in the face of crisis.
Kids want to be heard. They want you to be on their side. When a student is reporting their version of events, be as neutrally pleasant as possible and seek to understand and make them feel understood. (ex: "Wow, yes. I can see why you felt so offended when that child looked at you funny. That must have been really hard.")
Do you have tips? Share them in the comments! #bettertogether