My 2012 Dirty Dozen

Like the multitudes out in my blogosphere, I feel compelled to create a “list.”  This is list isn’t going to highlight the events of the fading year; that’s been done seven ways to Sunday.  Rather, I crafted a  post about the 12 things I MUST do in 2012 to help move myself, my students, my colleagues and my school forward.  There’s no brain science involved here. As a matter of fact, I feel like I’m channeling Yogi Berra on some of these–just honest, reflective thought as I down another cup of java.

  1. Start at the beginning.  Accept where we’re at and move forward. Not every student has technology access. Not every colleague is comfortable with change. Not one person knows it all. We’re all at the starting line together. Some will cross the finish line before others, but we’re all going to get there if we keep moving forward.
  2. If you don’t question, don’t complain. Sometimes my trigger finger is rather snappy. Step back. Actually listen to the interchange that just took place. Don’t be afraid to question the possibilities. They’re out there.
  3. Never look back. One of my weakest “must do’s.” We can’t change what’s happened in the past. However, collectively or individually, we each have the power to impact someone, somewhere, someway (let it be positive) every single minute of the day. Instead of focusing on what didn’t work or won’t ever work, I’ll rephrase my tone with, what if.
  4. Connect, connect, connect.  I can’t shout it from the rooftops loud enough how much I value my Twitter PLN (professional learning network).  In minutes, I’m able to glean more relevant information for my own professional (and most times personal) development from those I follow than I can in days of “sitting and getting.” Friends and followers across the country and the world have enlightened me, encouraged me and pushed me to think farther than I could have ever imagined. I want that same feeling for my colleagues and friends.
  5. Omit “can’t do”/”won’t do” mentality. I can’t count the numerous times I hear someone limit his/her potential. I’m as guilty as the next guy. On a daily basis, I tell my students not to limit themselves with these words.  Time to start practicing what I preach.
  6. Refine tightrope skills. Finding balance is something with which many of us struggle. My life is a triangle, consisting of family, fitness and fortitude.  Family–kids, spouse, significant other, close friends, colleagues, you name it. Fitness–physical, mental, spiritual. It doesn’t necessarily mean hey, I’m gonna run a marathon, but if that’s on your dirty dozen list for 2012, then kudos to you!  I’m an instant admirer! And, fortitude–intestinal, emotional or attitudinal. Being strong requires balance. Being balanced requires strength.
  7. Sleep.  Physically and mentally, it’s the single most beneficial item on this dirty dozen list. We need those zzzzz’s to thrive!
  8. Loosen the reins. Even as a kid, I’ve never enjoyed reins being tightened on me.  I love to explore, I love to learn, and as much as it can hurt, I love to trip and fall and get back up and try it all over again. I need to not only push forward when the reins get tightened on me but also understand that’s there’s usually a reason behind the tugging.
  9. Fail more often. My daredevil approach to life doesn’t work for everyone. I get that. However, this year I started using the term, “educated risks” with my students and colleagues.  We don’t want kids landing a spot on the next episode of Jackass, but when we take educated risks, our learning curve grows exponentially…and that feels good.
  10. Get glasses. The more I read, the more I learn.  However, it also means the cheapo readers from a big box store aren’t going to cut it anymore.  While I’m at it, they need to look great…and make me look smarter! Hey, you live once!
  11. Shut up. And, listen. Even though I can tout some active listening professional development in my career, I need to make a more concerted effort of hearing what is being said…by my students: I left my essay at my dad’s may mean a lot more than an adolescent trying to make excuses for not doing her assignment…by my colleagues: Well, I don’t need to brag about what I do in my classroom may mean there is an insecurity that I don’t completely understand…by myself: Hey, you’re how old? It’s time to slow down may mean I need to stop talking to myself altogether. I will strive to truly listen…and keep my two cents to myself…or toss them out to the blogosphere.
  12. Breathe. This one encompasses #1-11. Sometimes we get so caught up in the moment–budget pitfalls, cranky kids, politics, flabby middles, angry parents, Angry Birds, a flat tire on a busy I-94.  Breathing might help quell the fires that could make our year miserable.

Wishing you the happiest and healthiest year!  Make it the best one yet!

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