Top 10 Things I Learned in 2013

By December 31, 2013 4 Comments


1. Friends are essential to survival – I was once told that if you don’t get at least three hugs a day you are weird.  I’ve always loved that one because I’m a hugger.  What I have learned this year is that I have to rely on my friends, both at work and not, to help me through things that I can’t do alone.  My true friends have never let me down when I need that support and encouragement.

2. I can only control what I can control – This is a hard one for me.  My [amazing] superintendent kindly reminds me of this mantra often.  And I’m thankful, because I often need reminded.  I live and work in a small town, and love it (mostly).  One attribute that has never been my favorite, however, is the lack of privacy.  I’ve learned that one thing I can’t control is what other people might say.  However, I can control how I live with integrity and dignity.  I can control how I treat others.  I can control how I invest in my children’s lives.  I can control what I put into my career.  And those are the things I choose on which to focus.

3. Coffee is not a bad thing. – I love coffee.  That love affair began a few years ago (previously I hated the stuff) when a friend brought me a french vanilla cappuccino from a gas station.  If you have ever had one of those, you would know that it’s mostly sugar with a splash of coffee.  Mmmmmm – how I loved my “candy coffee”.  I have progressed, however, to liking strong coffee with just a splash of flavored creamer.  No sweetener.  I always avoided drinking it on a regular basis because I thought it would be a hindrance to become dependent upon that morning dose of caffeine.  In 2013, I decided, Who Cares? if I need that small delicious vice to begin my day.  I love it, and embrace my addiction.

4. I cannot achieve happiness through other people.  I’m choosing not to elaborate on this one.  It’s pretty self-explanatory.

5. Technology integration is married to curriculum. – With the implementation of 1:1 iPads in grades 5-12, and as the co-chair of said steering committee, I strongly believe in the fact that technology is not separate from curriculum, it does not drive the curriculum, it supports the curriculum.  Technology integration should be seamlessly woven into daily classroom instruction.  I enjoy being someone who gets to help make that happen.

6. Teachers and administrators are playing for the same team.  Don’t worry – I’m not going off on a sports analogy tangent (shocker for those who know me well).  I was a teacher for thirteen years.  This is my third year as the district curriculum director.  I’m amazed at the “them” vs. “us” mentality that some people have.  Don’t we all want what is best for our students?  Aren’t we all trying to accomplish the same goals?  We are in this together.

7. Relationships are key to effective leadership.  We’ve all heard the saying, “People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  It’s almost become cliché, and yet it is so true.  Investing in forming relationships with your colleagues takes such little time and effort, and yet is so appreciated (when it is sincere).

8. Caring doesn’t have to be reciprocated.  This may seem strange, and sort of piggybacks on #7.  I have discovered this year that I tend to care more for some people than they care about me.  More importantly, I’ve discovered that I can’t, and won’t change this.  And, I guess it goes back to #2.  I can’t control how much people care about me, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t continue to care about them.

9. It takes all people with all gifts and talents to have a successful school district. I love that I know which teachers to go to regarding edtech questions, elementary literacy, secondary literacy, etc.  I know who I can depend on to read my articles, respond to emails, or welcome me into their classroom.  I know which teachers are better at relating to high school kids on a personal level, and who I can go to regarding personal issues.

10. I am blessed. Okay, so this isn’t something I just discovered, but sit here feeling so fortunate when I look back over this past year.  I have a job that I love, which makes it less of a “job”.  I work with people I can consider friends, as well as colleagues.  I’m constantly learning new things about the world of education (which I genuinely love).  I get to work in the district where my own children attend school.  The list goes on…

I began this post feeling obligated to look back and summarize my year.  I could come up with the first few pretty quickly, but had to come back to the post several times and really spend time reflecting to finish it.  This struggle through finishing the post is the real benefit to writing it.  I wrote it for me.  I’m sure if I spent the next few days reflecting I could make my list longer or more thorough, but with 2013 coming to an end in just a few hours, I feel compelled to complete it now.  Because tomorrow is a new day, a new month, a new year…and I’m anxiously awaiting to see how it unfolds.