“When we are motivated by goals that have deep meaning, by dreams that need completion, by pure love that needs expressing, then we truly live life.” - Greg Anderson
I don’t often do New Year’s Resolutions.
A buddy of mine (@spegg) pointed me to an interesting blog post by Chris Brogan. Brogan has been framing the changing of the calendar for the last few years based on three words. Three words that capture the “why” of the concrete goals. To act as “lighthouses” in the murky fog of motivation and change. Obviously, this got me thinking.
Without further ado, my three words of 2012:
Create – I want to make more time to pursue the creative. But more than that, it is not enough to start. Anyone can start a project, but the hard part of creation is completion. Create is also connected to the idea that I want to create more authentic connections with people, in person and face to face. Creating is about being open, about being willing to put the work in and about the will to finish.
Challenge – Obviously, I have laid down my major personal/physical challenge for the year. I will be competing (relatively) in the Mont Tremblant Ironman. It is a major physical and mental challenge. My training, my race and my recovery will greatly define the year, I’m sure. On top of that I have set various challenges for myself, including writing goals, learning goals, and relationship goals. These challenges will push me. I like the idea of a monthly challenge, I just haven’t fully realized that yet.
Discipline – I like to say yes. I am scatter brained. I am sometimes inconsistent. I, at times, lack discipline. I, at times, lack organization. I’m pushing myself to find my inner discipline. I need to push past laissez-faire and become more effective, productive and focused. This may require me letting some things go, which will be hard, however, I need to come to the realization that I can’t do it all, however, hard that is to accept.
So there are my three words, what are yours?
The two tenets of education should be:
- Have gratitude.
- Be generous.
These should permeate every action public education is involved in.
This is what a teacher should always exemplify. You have skills, knowledge, the ability to learn, now give it away.
Show students how it works.
Be thankful, share what you’ve got.
It was innocent enough, a student I was talking to asked, “Why would you do that?”
We were talking about setting goals, short-term goals and long-term goals. We were talking about setting our bar high. About pushing our expectations of ourselves. We were also talking about being honest about our intentions.
And that’s when it struck me, why am I doing this? Why am I training for an Ironman? The real reason, the reason deep down inside.
I had to say, “I don’t know.”
Maybe it’s because I’ve made the commitment. Blown the money and now feel obligated.
Maybe it’s ego, I want to do something that others can’t or haven’t.
Maybe I want to prove something to myself or to others, about my abilities. To show them.
Maybe I want a challenge that will push me to my physical and mental limits.
Maybe I want to make my Mom and Dad proud.
Or maybe, I want to live a life that takes advantage of opportunities. I’m physically well, fit and in a position to attempt it. I’m in a place, where on a daily basis, I tell kids to try something that seems too difficult to achieve. I tell kids to dream big, to set the bar high and I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I want to look them in the eye and tell them, they can do anything.
I don’t really know why I’m doing it. I don’t know why it became a goal I had. But I guess, that’s the beauty of goals sometimes; you set them and if you are willing to sacrifice and put the time in, they become part of you, part of who you want to be.
“Live Passionately Today” is tattooed on my left wrist. Maybe this whole thing is my attempt to personify that.
And I guess, most likely, it is all these reasons.
This was cross-posted at my other blog, In Constant Pursuit, about my pursuit of Ironman.
Time to sharpen the pencils. We’ll be in the thick of things before you know it. And I can’t wait.
There is something about the wrap up of September that excites me. One of the many reasons I love this job. Every September we can refocus, declare our direction and set our trail. New chances for everyone, students and teachers.
As a student, I loved September too. Every year, I convinced myself that this would be the year of underlining my date, staying organized, doing all my homework and getting straight ‘A’s. Now, of course, the wheels would inevitably fall off by mid-September. But things are different this time, no really. The goals I laid out for myself last September have been more or less kept. I re-up my commitment to the education revolution that we are in the midst of having.
My Goals This September
- contacting parents more frequently. I’d like to start with three from each class per week. That ensures the connection with their child’s learning is constant and constructive. By trying to hit the number goal, I’ll also be calling regarding more positive things. I’m going to make a concerted effort early to get e-mail addresses for parents as that is the easiest form of communication in my mind.
- bringing my lunch to school. This is connected to my training for Ironman, in which, keeping good energy is essential. But it is also connected to my desire to maintain my energy throughout the day. I want to be as engaged and passionate at 2:30 as I was at 8:30.
- sharing more in my building. My reading, my experiences, my thoughts/ideas, the tools that are working. But more importantly, try to get people to share with me more and develop the rich conversations I have online around pedagogy with those folks I’m teaching beside. As I’ve mentioned previously in this blog, I have been encouraged to share more. I think I will. And I’ll hope for my colleagues to share more too.
- using Evernote with every student to provide feedback. It worked so well in Summer School and the second half of last semester, I will be employing these methods across the board. This tool allows me to provide timely, personal feedback but more importantly, have a reservoir for all that feedback so a student/parent/myself can look back from the beginning of the course and see all the feedback I’ve given.
- keeping an organized calendar. This will be essential as I am always busy, but with Ironman training as well, this year will be madness. This is one of the goals I’ve tried before, but this year it will be even more essential. Keeping a calendar will allow me to maximize my time working towards my why.
- choosing the right battle. My father always told me to, “Pick my battles.” This is the year, I stop picking the wrong ones and I stay focused on those that are most important. Too often I get mired down in the small battles that cost much and accomplish little.
- answering emails promptly. I’m one of the world’s worst for receiving an e-mail, reading it and planning on responding later. Of course, that inevitably leads me to forget about it and never respond. This September, I am going to stop waiting for tomorrow what can be done today, especially around e-mail.
- my daily gratitude notes again. I once heard an interview with Seth Godin and he was asked, “What is the most important thing you could do today to make the biggest change?” and his response, “Say thank you to someone every day.” I employed this idea a year ago when I left a thank you note in someone’s mailbox every day. I fell off the wagon last year, but it is time for me to start again.
- “It is not what has been taken from you, but what you do with what is left.”
- student’s learning at the end of every class. What have we learned? Why have we learned it? If it is minor or major does’t matter, I think clarifying what we are doing every day will help us prepare to learn for the next day.
- the why, every time it gets muddled.
- the role of the teacher, student and administrator.
- the door of the classroom.
- the either/or frame of thinking and embrace the both/and. (A blog post dedicated to this concept and my thoughts around it is coming.)
And there they are. As with any goal setting, I’ll be constantly adding, revising, removing these as I buffet in the wind, but this list will help fix my direction and help me set my sails.
What are your goals for the year?
This is an incomplete, unsorted, yet fully considered list of my goals for this school year. It is hard to really put this together and to make it feel complete, however, I’ll do my best to put something coherent together.
Teach completely paperless — that includes assignments submitted to me, notes, assignment sheets and an attempt to eliminate school memos, permission sheets and all the other extraneous paper that I wade through everyday. I’m almost there after my success of last year. I’d like to ratchet it up a little. One limitation I’ll deal with is the diminished time my class will have in a computer lab. I’m going to find a solution for the timing issue.
Remove quantitative grading from my practice — portfolio building, parent involvement, better assignments, immediate feedback, student progress awareness, continuous conferencing with students and work that is geared towards a ‘real world’ audience. The documentation and the research is all out there, yet we are stuck in our ways when it comes to the numerical value we give everything, I’m going to try to break this trend. I’ll be writing much more on this major adjustment to my practice.
Citizenship building — trying to integrate real world experience, recognize global and social effects of our choices and to make students responsible for/to each other. Anchoring everything we do in the classroom to the ‘real world’ and more importantly the effects our decisions and actions have on the world.
Community of Learners — each class to exist as a true community, past the typical teenage dramas, recognizing and using the strengths of all. My plan is to really re-frame the idea of the classroom, away from me and instead spend alot of time reconfiguring the web in the classroom. This may be challenging, but oh, so worth it.
Focus — not to let the drama of the English department, school and anything else derail my plans and my focus. This goal is less about my practice, but more about my sanity and my effort to eliminate negative vibes and building momentum.
More to be added, however, this is the first sketch…
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.