There goes my commitment to blogging a minimum of twice a month! November just flew by and now winter holidays are already upon us.
To get back into the swing of things, I’d like to share five things I’ve learned (or re-learned) this past month.
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1. Change Is Both Amazing and Difficult
Two of the classes at our school are participating in our district’s pilot program “Communicating Student Learning” to revise our current report card model. We have moved towards a focus on core competencies (Critical Thinking, Creativity, Personal & Social Responsibility, Communication) and we have chosen to take letter grades off of our reports. Instead, there is an emphasis on self-assessment and conferencing with individual students. Personally and professionally, I have found this experience to be incredibly rewarding. I have had many meaningful conversations with students about their strengths and goals in the past couple of weeks. It is amazing to see the insight that most 12-year olds have about themselves as learners. It was also wonderful to hear about what they are enjoying and what they are excited about. My eyes have been opened to how powerful a single conversation can be as I’ve been able to more clearly understand what particular students need from me to help them improve. Others are struggling to accept the new format; some are uncomfortable with self-reflection and others want to keep letter grades. I understand their struggles because change can be difficult and overwhelming. Hopefully second term will go more smoothly for everyone as we all adjust and become more comfortable with the changes.
2. Masters Programs Require A Lot of Time!
This one has been a steep learning curve for me. I was so excited to embark on my new learning journey in September, but I was completely unprepared for how much time I would have to dedicate to my coursework. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the course… but it has been a balancing act that has not always worked out for the best. I am hopeful that I will improve my time management in January!
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3. Family Is Important… And So Is Health
Originally from Ontario, my spouse and I usually fly back to Toronto every year for the Christmas holidays. All of our family is there; we moved out here together in 2009 looking for something different. This year, we have both been under a lot of stress and not as healthy as we would like. After much discussion, we made the difficult decision to stay in BC for the holidays this year. With no family here whatsoever, it will be our first experience alone for the holidays in eight years. I love my family and I look forward to my once-a-year visit… but this year other things had to take priority. Everyone needs some down time once in awhile and for us, this is the way to get it this year. The best decisions – the ones that make the most sense at a particular time – are not always the easiest. I will miss spending time with family, but I look forward to exploring new traditions.
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4. New Challenges Are Scary
I have been wanting a student teacher for quite some time and finally requested one this fall only to not be assigned a placement. I was so disappointed, but in the end, it would have been completely nutty to have one these past few months! This week I was offered the chance to work with someone beginning in January. My initial reaction was excitement – I’ve been looking forward to this! – and then I realized just how scared I am. What if I am not a good mentor? I like to think I enjoy a challenge, but sometimes my inner child pops up and reminds me that I don’t feel ready. However, in this case, I will accept and embrace the fear, and then move on, because I know it will all work out. At the very least, passion is contagious!
5. I Can’t Do It All
I have had to let a few things go this year. For a variety of reasons, it was a very overwhelming fall and there is no way I would have survived if I had kept it all on my plate. For the first time in my career, I was burnt out and ready to quit. As someone who has struggled for a long time with perfectionism and a need to please others, this was a very difficult lesson. I can’t do it all; in fact, I don’t want to do it all. I am learning to focus my energy on the things that matter most to me. I am learning that I don’t need to have my foot in everything. This lesson has been a long time in the making, but it is finally beginning to sink in and it feels pretty good…
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I know it’s December and it’s a crazy time of year for many… but don’t forget to take some time to relax! Sometimes the things that most need our attention are right in front of our eyes and we choose to ignore them.
What are some lessons you’ve learned so far this year? What are you looking forward to?