Unexpected tears slid down my face as I walked to the community polling location this morning. A woman was actually on the ballot as the presidential nominee from a major party. Men and women took her seriously enough to put their trust in her to be the president of the United States of America. Honestly, when I was my students’ age, I didn’t think this would happen in my lifetime. But it happened today. And I voted.
New year, new goals. Getting off to a solid start to the new school year involves self-evaluation and creating goals for the school year. In the past, I’ve tried a few approaches. The “address all weak areas” type of goals turned out to be depressing and showed little actual improvements. The “super-teacher in training” relied on assessment that compared me to national stars, and thus felt unauthentic. In both cases, I was trying to transform myself into someone who was simply not me. Jennifer Gonzalez in Cult of Pedagogy presents an 8 Paths for Self Improvement that exhibit balance between self-care, classroom management, and professional learning. Her approach nudged me to let go of the more traditional, stuffy, goal setting plans and focus on what really matters. After all, these are my own goals, so focusing on my own abilities and areas of growth that I honestly want to develop is key.
Last year, at a staff meeting we were told to jot down some goals, which we put into an envelope. The first problem with this was clear: the goals would be hidden. The simple resolution was to take a picture. Pictures as notes is a technique that works like a gem for me. These goals were not traditional educational goals, and instead focused on gently pushing me to become a better me. I liked them; they were comfortable. For the first time in 25 years, my goals involved happiness. Imagine that!
This year, I’m continuing the philosophy of self-improvement. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe famously stated, “I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element.” This school year, I’m committing to making myself a better me, as a person, educator, and team member. Here we go.