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As a teacher I always feel there are two New Years in a single year—September and January. I find it a welcome opportunity to evaluate and realign my goals, personally and professionally. Although I don’t refer to my professional goals as resolutions, in this context using Wikipedia’s definition, a commitment to goals, projects or reforming of habits, it fits. Call them what you will—goals, resolutions, plans, objectives.
Frankly, I prefer my professional new year’s resolutions over my personal ones as they are more about exploring new ideas and experiences with my students and colleagues, and less about what I am not doing, like losing weight and saving money. My professional resolutions always seem to be dynamic, exciting and evolving, while my personal January resolutions tend to be generic, familiar and tired. Don’t get me wrong, I have personal goals and I am a very goal oriented person but I don’t do well with the whole “it is January, ergo I need to come up with some goals”. It may work for some people but I tend to create my goals as life unfolds, January or not.
After the holidays I read through a backlog of Seth Godin’s blog posts, and I was yet again reminded how much his words resonate with me. In his most recent posts a common theme spoke to me and it is one I needed to hear to be renewed for the upcoming term. It is about committing to being a ruckus maker, being dedicated to bringing about change.
I think my desire to bring about change found me before I found it. In my search for ways to infuse technology into learning I stumbled upon many opportunities and many roadblocks, many tools and many policies, many questions and yet not as many answers, or at least ones I was willing to accept. These all led me to the same place—wondering why. Why can’t we look at this differently? Why can’t we try this for the sake of our students? Why is this door closed? It was a if I had re-entered the toddler “why” phase. These many “whys” fuelled my strong commitment to bringing about change—change with a purpose, with a goal, with meaning. All grounded in, “What is best for our students and their learning?”
What I have discovered is that as you start asking “why” to a broad scope of people and start offering “what if” options to be explored, the more the doors open and the more change can stretch its wings and find some room to fly around. Instead of change flexing its muscles and evoking fear, I am learning that giving it a crack of sunlight to grow and become established is far more effective and far less threatening.
I rounded up 6 themes from Seth’s posts that I think will give me strength and courage to push forward. I hope they speak to you, too!
You don’t need a new plan for next year. You need a commitment.
“It’s always been this way” is not a reason to keep on keeping on. Challenge the status quo.
As soon as you accept that just about everything in our created world is only a few generations old, it makes it a lot easier to deal with the fact that the assumptions we make about the future are generally wrong, and that the stress we have over change is completely wasted.
A great question is one you can ask yourself, one that disturbs your status quo and scares you a little bit.
You get to make a choice. You can remake that choice every day, in fact. It’s never too late to choose optimism, to choose action, to choose excellence. The best thing is that it only takes a moment — just one second — to decide.
One option is to struggle to be heard whenever you’re in the room…
Another is to be the sort of person who is missed when you’re not.The first involves making noise. The second involves making a difference.
…Great storytellers and artists and ruckus makers manage to insulate themselves from the people they’re going to hassle. And the job of those that are being hassled by the commotion is to be hassled by the commotion. No commotion, no job.
In place of new year’s resolutions I am making a commitment to the above statements, for myself and for my students. While I believe I have long been committed to these ideas, I love the clarity and focus found here on this list. I think they will help serve as my compass, particularly when the road gets rough and the ruckus maker needs a reminder as to why a ruckus is worth making.
How will you create a ruckus this year?