Sunday, January 02, 2011

Happy New Year, 2011. As I sit at my desk in my classroom today, the last Sunday of Christmas break, planning for the next week, month, and even the rest of the year, I anticipate with excitement the things left to teach my students. I dread with an honest realization that we will never get to everything we need to cover, everything I want to explore with them, nor all the skills I know they need for next year and beyond.

With the new year, many people write resolutions. Some are kept; others fall by the wayside early on. Rereading an article where I compiled the resolutions of colleagues of mine, Resolved to be a Better Teacher Leader in 2007, I ended with my own resolution/thoughts:

Some resolutions we keep. Some resolutions are destined for failure. My own resolution, though, I think I can keep: I resolve this year, and every year, to listen to those wiser than me, and let their words be my guiding force for improvement today and every day.

Now, 4 years later, I come to reflect backwards on that resolution, wondering have I learned and grown, listened to those wiser, and allowed their words to guide my own journey. In some ways, I have listened to those wiser than me. I've learned to listen more, say less, and wait for the right moment to intervene. In other ways, I remain the same: impulsive, impetuous and even, bullheaded when it comes to speaking my mind. I tend to ram forward, intent on fixing it, whatever the it may be, determined to make things work, make things right, at any cost.

Sometimes, the act first, think later method works. It can even be the best, maybe only option, in a given circumstance. Given the chance to stop and think, perhaps I would have then chosen to remain silent, not intervening on behalf of students, or the improvement of education, thinking I would overstep my boundaries. Having someone speak up and saying, "Enough, stop, let's change course," can often be an eye-opener, the tree-shaking a teacher/adminstrator needs to realize their journey is veering off-course.

Other times, the impetuous me blurts out an unsought solution to an unrealized problem, creating an uncomfortable silence and glare from the other party. These times, I would have done better to have found a different in-route to offering my solutions/insights, coating them carefully with well-thought out praise and conditional suggestions.

As 2011 begins, I again resolve to listen and learn from those wiser than me. I resolve to think more before I plunge, contemplate my words and actions before diving headfirst into the deep end. I resolve to keep students first in my decision making process, making certain each suggestion I make, each change I implement, is always based on what is best and right for students, forgoing the need for adult-rightness. I resolve to make 2011 a year when it comes to a close, I can look honestly back and say I spent it wisely, in the pursuit of a quality education for each and every student I encounter.

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