Amazing Kids

Amazing Kids

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Look Back and Forward

This year has been full of firsts for me. It has been pretty amazing. Over my lifetime I've done a ton of stuff: traveled and lived in many places, but this year has been like no other. I didn't go any exciting places geographically, but the shifts in my own perspective were global. And I am celebrating big time. At the end of 2013, I want to merge into 2014 on a note that helps me to remember some of the best of the year.
  • Reading for enjoyment is becoming more of a norm. Since I have finally given myself permission to put aside "productivity" and just read, I have read more books than EVER in my life. Fiction, picture books, graphic novels, informational, fantasy, historical fiction, you name it. Most of the titles were written for middle grades. Many were brand new, hot off the shelf, or even pre-published. I went to places that came from the wild imagination of some amazing writers and introduced me to a huge variety of interesting characters. I laughed, cried, and wondered. I stayed up way too late to read. That's a good thing.
  • My students have a teacher who is thinking outside the box. I dared new approaches, which may or may not have included technology. I'm taking advice from some really smart people who, age-wise, could be my kids. For the first time, there is no "teacher desk" in our classroom and it is WONDERFUL. Kids gather in various places around our room and are focused on learning targets more than completing assignments (although they ARE required to that, too!) They are becoming more responsible for their own learning, so they are asking more questions. (Disclaimer: I still have a long way to go in this area, but we've made huge strides!)
  • PLN (personal learning network) growth has been key. "Meeting" educators from everywhere has been positive in so many ways. I imagine most everyone reading this can relate. I'm not an extreme blogger, tweeter, or Pinterest aficionado, but each of those platforms (and more) have provided more professional development and ideas for me than many seminars, college classes, or conferences I've attended. My commitment is to avoid (at all costs) comparing my number of "followers" with anyone else. If my motivation is for growth for me and my students, then it really doesn't make one lick of difference how many followers I have. What makes a difference is that what I do online makes a difference for my kids. That's it. 
  • Although I don't consider myself to be an expert on a lot, I am committed to my own growth, development, and learning. This year afforded me the opportunity to share some of that learning in professional development settings. Much to my amazement and delight, those sessions were well-received, fostered relationships with some pretty amazing people, and stretched me as an educator and as a person. I'm looking forward to more of that in 2014.
  • Common Core is no longer a looming monster. Chalk this up to a mindset shift. In our district there's been some chaos in the implementation of CCSS. If you're in an elementary setting, you know the feeling of having to shift not just one subject, but everything. For a while it felt as though I was in the middle of the ocean in the middle of the night in nothing but an empty and leaking dinghy. Now I know that although I still may not have answers or as many materials and strategies as I'd like, we will make it. My kids will be stronger thinkers, and better at asking questions and problem-solving. Perspective is what I gained.
  • I am not done. There is so much more to be part of; there are so many things to do, goals to set and reach. I love this inspiring talk from Diana Nyad, who shares her "impossible" goal. I can so relate to her spirit.
As this year comes to a close and a new one unfolds, be brave, move forward, fulfill your dreams. There are always going to be obstacles and nay-sayers, but each of us has the ability for greatness.

1 comment:

  1. Kudos for being so willing to step out of the box. Your commitment to your students is amazing!