The new year is like a blank book waiting to be written… each of us our own authors with the hope that this year will be better than the last.  Decisions made last year  will definitely influence 2017, but the plot and the ending doesn’t have to remain the same. How do we ensure that 2017 will be filled with positive changes in our lives and in our profession?

The first step to welcome the new year requires time for reflection on the previous year. What were the defining moments -good or bad- and how did we celebrate success or mourn loss?  How did we evolve as a person,  an educator, and a leader?

Personally, I celebrated a wonderful new love, mourned the loss of my beloved Uncle, and learned to accept myself for who I am as gracefully as I possibly can. I made new friends and reconnected with old. I continue to struggle to find balance in a chaotic world, but  I definitely laughed more, traveled more, and experienced life more fully!

As an educator, I challenged the status quo by taking on professional development and looking beyond the walls of our school for students to experience other cultures and how they as global citizens can change the world. I tried new instructional strategies like jigsaw activities, sentence frames, and learning discovery guides. I cried as a teacher too. As a member of a Cultural Proficiency Cohort, I struggled through personal biases I had about my students and their families that led to assumptions that were unfair. I saw my role as an educator through fresh eyes.

As a leader,  I advocated for the needs of our school system, our students, and our colleagues which included publicly sharing my displeasure with our Board of Supervisors. I mentored and nurtured leadership in colleagues and watched them flourish in turn. I enthusiastically jumped with both feet into a campaign to serve as a NEA Director for Virginia because I care so passionately about education and the work that lies ahead to ensure a better future for our profession and most importantly, our students. I learned that I have a lot of fight left in me and regardless of the outcome of the election, I will continue this work because it matters to our children and those who serve them.

My final reflection is that while 2016 had its ups and down, I grew personally and professionally in ways that I could not have predicted. I welcome 2017 with open arms with all the hope that a new year can bring. However, I mustn’t forget all that I have learned, how I have evolved, and what I must do to continue to move forward in the new year.

Happy New Year to all!  May your reflections lead you to a wonderful year ahead!

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