Engaged. Or rather (re)engaged. That’s my word for 2017.
Every day for the past six months that word has stared at me, a sticker on the left side of my laptop’s keyboard. But was I really engaged? Did it mean anything to me, a constant reminder of part of my role as an educator? At times yes. But more often, no. It’s hard to admit to yourself that you’re not giving 100% every day. That you’re not being the best you that you can be. That you’re not being the person you need to be to those around you, who depend on your attention, guidance, and leadership.
When I chose the word in July, it meant something to me. It meant that this year, my 19th as a teacher was going to be different (as each year always is). But more than different, it was going to be better – dare I say the best? I had just come off a tremendous professional high, being recognized as the city’s top educator, and honor I shared with one of my dearest friends and colleagues. So the pressure was on. If I was truly THE educator of the year, then I better start acting like it.
I could feel it slipping over the past several years. The passion, the stress, the commitment. All dipping to all-time lows. 2016-2017 was going to be the year. It was going to be the year that I (re)defined myself as an educational leader. But things got in the way. Things like prostate cancer. And while any cancer is a BIG thing, it was certainly not the end of the world for me. Thanks to my wife, I caught it early and appear to be cancer free. But the reality that I was sick, the unknown, the recovery certainly took its toll. I’ve been back at work for six weeks now and I’ve haven’t caught my wave yet. But I know it’s coming, because my students deserve the best me I can be.
So I plan to re-engage with each and every student each and every day for the rest of the school year…and beyond. A handshake. A high five. A hug. Positive feedback on an assignment. Helping them fail. Helping them succeed. Asking them to answer questions. Asking them to question answers. Whatever it takes for me to be whoever 112 Knox Gifted Academy 5th graders need me to be or need me to do or need me to say.
But re-engaging doesn’t just happen for me in the classroom. I need to re-engage with me wife. We need to be a couple again. We need time for the two of us. I also need to re-engage with me two daughters. We need to talk about life. We need to work on our relationships.
I need to re-engage with my PLN. I recently read a post by Dean Shareski about making a conscious effort to make social media more social. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook should not simply be about posting content, but rather it should be about building relationships and creating stories. I need to be more in tune with my Voxer groups. I need to participate in more Twitter chats, maybe even initiating some. I need to contribute more to Slack groups. I need and respond to read other’s writing. I need to have conversations about books I’m reading.
I need to re-engage with incomplete projects. I need to finish the Arduino tutorial. I need to redesign a 3D print for Ultimaker. I need to learn Raspberry Pi. I need to learn how to sew.
I realize I have a daunting task in front of me, re-engaging in almost every facet of my life. The good news is I have 365 days to accomplish my goal. But I’m not going to wait to get started. In fact, I’m re-engaging with writing by publishing this piece.
So my goal for 2017 is to re-engage. What’s yours? I’d love to engage in conversations about what’s on your horizon.