3 Reasons Why Next Year Could Be Your Best


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Emiliano Horcada

Having a tiring end to the year after dealing with some tough personal events in my life, I have decided to take some time and enjoy things outside work.  Although people get on my case about blogging, I find writing to be soothing and a release for my mind that seems to be all over the place on most days.  As I sat on a plane heading to The Avett Brothers concert, I thought about the next year (year in teacher language is usually August until June in many countries) and what are some of the things that I am going to focus on that will make next year great.  Hopefully some of these thoughts will help others as well.

1. Your Experience Matters – Having a couple of years in my current position without having anyone to follow or no template on what needed to be done, I constantly wondered if I was on the right track. It felt like my first year of teaching where I constantly questioned how I was doing.  A few years in, I feel a lot more comfortable.

That being said, being able to connect with people within my organization and outside through a PLN has taught me that I am not solely on my experience, but if I am willing to connect with teachers through social media, I have access to thousands of years experience that I don’t have myself.  New teachers have an opportunity that I never did as a teacher starting off if they are willing to take the time to connect.  Tapping into this experience is invaluable for a teacher in year 1 or year 35, you just have to make the effort.

2. You are a Learner First, Teacher Second – The notion of doing the same thing for 30 years has always terrified me.  I remember distinctly saying that I would never last 30 years in the profession because I would be too bored teaching the same thing over and over again.  In the past few years however, I have really focused on what I am learning and what I am trying in my job and with this focus, I have a renewed passion for the profession.

I have seen this renewed passion with others first and it has led to their own sense of passion for the profession.  In one article, the author states the following:

“I see myself as a learner first, thus I create my classes with learners, not for them ….”

I remember the reason I loved school so much as a student and it was that constant discovery and growth that you get from the process.  Teachers that focus on this will truly ensure that no day looks the same.  That constant growth could be quite invigorating.

3. Culture Starts With You – I remember having the same conversation with a friend that was frustrated about her situation and felt her boss could do so much better.  The problem was that no matter who the boss was, she always had the same issue.  I would talk with her and say, “You can’t control what other people do, only yourself.  What are you going to do differently to make your situation better?”  We have to remember that we always have options in what we do, and that if we want the environment around us to get better, it starts with us as individuals.

I recently talked about this notion and shared this powerful quote from Jamie Notter’s blog:

We all create the culture we’re in. Our actions, our words, even our thoughts. People in leadership roles often have the opportunity to leverage those words, thoughts, and actions, due to the attention they get, but we all are creating the culture every day. Be intentional about it. Be clear about what is valued and what drives success. And choose to behave consistently with that understanding, even if that feels like the harder choice in the moment.

Taking ownership of that culture and embodying what you want to see in others, no matter the position, can be the step that changes an entire culture.  It always start somewhere and with someone.  Is it you?

Many of these things that I have shared are things that people do already, but sometimes just realizing that and making it a focus when we walk into the door at the beginning of the year helps to focus on what we want the year to be like.

What are some of the things that you are going to focus on next year?

  • Paula Ayers

    Thank you George
    As always, you so eloquently and thoughtfully articulate what teaching and leadership is all about. One point that sticks to mind is that it is up to us as individuals and leaders to make a difference ourselves and stick to our beliefs…despite obstacles or little or negative or no feedback. We need to acknowledge those around us, but stick to our principles and passions. Setting high expectations for teachers and students to be innovative and curious learners is imperative.
    Your blog posts this year have been an inspiration and shining light for me – thank you! Hope you have a wonderful break and that next year be a better one.
    Paula

  • Mark Ziebarth

    Thanks for your great post! I enjoy reading your blog and hope you have an amazing year!

  • Kaila Villiger

    Again inspiring, timely thoughts…creating culture particularly resonated with me…excellent summer thinking! Thanks:)

  • Scot Wright

    Thanks for this timely message! It came at the perfect time for me.

  • Joel

    Great post, great points to focus on this summer getting while ready for next year, since I (finally!) have a job waiting for me.

  • Rosemary West

    A chance to help others ……… May it be colleagues, families, or individual kids in your path, we are all “in the moment.” The days are what we make them. Rest, reflect, ready for a new day. Thank you!

  • Diane Peterson

    Your words hit home with me! I’ve been teaching for 23 years and clearly remember thinking at the beginning that I wouldn’t be a long term teacher, that there would be something else in my career life. Well…here I am and proud of it! I agree 100% on all of your points.

    My PLN through Twitter in particular has connected me with people and resources in the past 5 months more than anything else has come close to – I dare to say ever! I am constantly amazed at what I find and am encouraged by it!

    I wholeheartedly agree with your second point. My love for learning has been ignited many times over throughout the years. I feel strongly that this newness and enthusiasm carries over and spills out into the classroom.

    And thirdly, I’ve adopted the “I Choose Joy” attitude from a Christisn song I heard long ago. Our headmaster coins that phrase as well. And two years ago, really out of nowhere, words came spilling out to my students “Make Excellence be your standard” when I was trying to relay to them the point of “give it your all,” “do your best,” “improve every day” soapbox speeches.

    Thank you for a powerful message that confirms and reaffirms some extremely important basics for teachers.
    Have the best ever 2013-14 year!

  • http://teacherleaders.typepad.com/the_tempered_radical plugusin

    Hey Pal,

    My plan for next year is to focus on helping the kids in my classroom see themselves as learners rather than students. Students implies passive-ness and learners implies action. Students implies “learning what I want them to learn” and learners implies “learning about things that move me.”

    If I can make that one change, I think my kids will benefit.

    Hope you’re well!
    Bill