I do not believe in regrets.
I do believe, however, in years that were painful to endure.
I am more than ready for 2017 to go the way of Hans Gruber in Die Hard. It has been a year of "almost but not quite," of taking risks that did not pan out, having to spend a lot of money we were not planning to shell out, spending an inordinate amount of time having to teach students that even though politicians and famous people act that way we should not, and we capped it off with having to put our 15 year old border collie down- who has been with us since our first year of marriage.
I do not regret 2017, but I do eagerly await its passing. It is said that failure makes us grow, and after this year, I do agree with that part of growth mindset more fervently. I have come to take notice of things- from the way I present myself, to how others perceive me. I have learned that people always want to give you an encouraging word, but you sometimes need to be told the truth no matter how painful it is. I have learned that sometimes with loss comes a bit of freedom.
Between seeing my own year of trial (at one point I started a list of things that had not gone right- big things related to career, family, house and finances- and I could list 13 things)and seeing our world experiencing great turmoil, hope became hard to find.
In a year with more mass shootings and massive hurricanes, I have learned that the good guys do not always win. But they also never give up. I look at humanity in the wake of these tragedies and see hope.
My wife and I have been watching the Lord of The Rings with our oldest- her first time. At the end of the Two Towers, Samwise Gamgee speaks truth to me- and hopefully you.
2017 reminded me that up until then, I had had it easy. But if I want to make a difference- the kind of difference I talk about on Twitter and in blogs and to fellow educators- then I have to be willing to fight. Sometimes the fight will be about practice or to be taken seriously, sometimes the fight will be about ideology. But as I listened to Sam, and I watched Houston after Harvey where we came together for the goodness of all humankind, I realized I need to define what I am fighting for in 2018. Now, I have some personal goals to fight for in 2018, but for the sake of this blog, here are the BIG things I am fighting for that are not about me.
-For Students: It will ALWAYS be about students for me. A student's success and a student's safety trump anything else. If they cannot have one- safety or success- they cannot truly have either.
-Voice: Students and Teachers alike need to be heard. I want to find a way to spread that voice, and if needs be, be the voice for those who have none of their own.
-Empowerment: One of the best things that came out of 2017 for me was the opportunity to develop and lead a program that is devoted to student empowerment. Along the way, we realized that student empowerment like we are trying to develop cannot happen without teachers who are empowered as well.
-Vision: We need leaders in education and beyond that cast vision. They need to find the core idea of what makes school and classroom culture work for their specific situation and develop and share a vision that is clear and connected to their population.
-Innovation: Whether it is a small tweak to an existing idea, or a seismic shift of thought and practice, Innovation is worth fighting for- and celebrating. Too many innovators are overlooked or ignored because they lack voice or a platform to share their voice. If I myself cannot innovate a solution, I want to find and engage with others who can, and help them in whatever way I can to change our world.
After my year of living out the hard part of growth mindset, these are the things that I find important. These are the things I want to encourage and defend as a classroom teacher, a teacher leader, and hopefully someday as an administrator. These things MATTER to me.
What are your things worth fighting for in 2018?
I teach Psychology, Sociology, World History Honors and Debate at College Station High School, as well as coach the debate team, sponsor the TED Ed Club, and I am the Lead Innovator for LEADS CSISD (A student leadership empowerment program for 5th-8th graders). I am an aspiring administrator.