As 2018 approached, I was getting ready to post my goals for the new year and my #OneWord focus. Before I did, I received a message from my friend and fellow #CompelledTribe member Jennifer Hogan. She reminded me that before we look forward to new goals and a new year, it’s important to look back on the past year and reflect on our journey as educators. Heeding the advice of my friend, I put my post on hold and instead took some time to reflect on the past year. As I did so, I found that there were three main areas that stood out in 2017.
Endings & Beginnings: This year saw the ending of a five year term at a beloved school and a move to a new building with a new staff and new community. It was hard to leave a group of teachers whom I had grown so close with and felt that we had become a unified team helping students. I had also grown close with the community and was really “in my stride” as a principal there. I knew all the students and had found a comfortable routine. However, I know the dangers of getting too comfortable and falling into routines and so when my assignment changed to a new school, there was a part of me that was very excited and ready to learn new things, meet new people, and face new challenges. The spring was bittersweet when I left my school and the fall was filled with excitement and energy as I walked into my new school, met my new team, and worked with a new community. Coming into a new school with new hopes & dreams has helped me grow as an educator and pushed me to find new ways to develop a unified team, support teachers and students, and reach out to partner with my new school community.
Success & Failure: The past year has had its high moments and low moments. I started the year on a high note after being named outstanding principal of my Region by the Michigan Elementary & Middle School Principals Association (MEMSPA), presented at the state conference, and also was the closing keynote at the state Chamber of Commerce forum. Riding high from those successes, I pitched an idea for an educational book based on building relationships….twice. The effort was not a success and I had to deal with the sting of rejection. Lamenting to a friend of mine that I was “still not an author“, she responded with the word I have so often used with others….“YET!”. I’m still holding onto the dream of authoring an educational book, and perhaps those initial rejections will help make my final product and eventual achievement of that dream even more fulfilling in the end.
New Adventures: 2017 saw some new adventures and risk taking. My blog that had grown in audience over the past four years and helped connect me with educators from across the country and around the world had run its course. I felt that it was time to grow, start with a new format, and launch a new blog. So this summer as I started at a new school, I launched the new blog that you are reading now. The new format helped me consolidate some of my projects into a more professional format, but it was like starting over again. I had to learn a whole new system and start connecting with people unfamiliar with the new blog all over again. I’m still learning and still experimenting, but it has helped push me out of my comfort zone and model what I preach. The other new adventure this past year was the creation of the #PrincipalsPlayhouse with my friend and partner Allyson Apsey. Her vision and enthusiasm to create a venue where we could discuss issues facing educators in a fun and memorable way drew me in! Together, we have started something that I have no idea where it will lead, but I believe it will help educators and we are having fun along the way!
Like any year, 2017 brought both highs and lows, but most importantly it was a year of taking risks and moving forward. It taught me lessons on how to handle defeat, while not letting go of my dreams. It also showed me where I want to go in 2018 and helped me select my #OneWord for the new year that will serve as my focus. But that is another post…
“Education begins the gentleman, but reading, good company and reflection must finish him.” – John Locke
“The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.” – Thomas Paine
“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way…” – Margaret Wheatley
Coming Soon…My #OneWord for 2018!!