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Resolved: To Be a Better Teacher Leader in 2007

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As part of a new partnership, is publishing this regular column by members of the Teacher Leaders Network, a professional community of accomplished educators dedicated to sharing ideas and expanding the influence of teachers.

Participating in the Teacher Leaders Network (200 teachers in grades PK-12) is a rejuvenating experience throughout the year, as I listen to, talk with, and learn from this small cross-section of America's accomplished educators. I find inspiration in our daily online discussions. Although most of us have never met face to face, we've developed a virtual learning community where we trust and respect one another and are able to engage in remarkably frank and thoughtful professional conversations.

Recently, we decided to share our New Year's Resolutions with each other and to include a representative sample of those resolutions here. As I worked to compile this list, I gained a new appreciation for my TLN friends' commitment to their chosen profession and their dedication to bettering the educational opportunities for all their students.

As you read the compiled list below, I hope their resolutions also inspire you to start this year with a renewed spirit and determination.

Many of the resolutions revolved around our interactions with students and the challenge to always give our best to every child in our sphere of influence.

I resolve…

…to encourage every student, every day, and let them know I believe in them.
…to remember it is not about my teaching, it’s about their learning.
…to teach with joy, humor and love.
…to never give up on any student.
…to enjoy my opportunity to be with a generation that I would otherwise not interact with so deeply.
…to remember that every student is somebody's precious child.
…to pose interesting challenges that push my students to think critically and independently and arrive at their own conclusions.
…to take a few minutes at the end of each day to honestly reflect on what we have accomplished and where we go from here.
…to always do what I know is best for my students despite outside influences.
…to support my students by attending more of their "special" events—swim meets, wrestling matches, bastketball games, plays, recitals, and other performances.
…to accept the fact that there is no such thing as a "normal day" in school.

Other resolutions represent our understanding that only by focusing on our own personal and professional needs can we successfully serve others.

I resolve…

…to love and treasure the people in my life.
…to continue to grow, because it is the process, not the product, that enriches my life.
…to be healthier, be accountable, and remain steadfast.
…to lose inches and pounds by keeping to a rigorous exercise program away from school.
…to take my vitamins, drink my water, wash my hands, and get plenty of sleep.
…to take a real vacation.
…to write daily.
…to avoid the teacher’s lounge and cafeteria in favor of more healthy food choices.
…to slow down and reflect daily on the purposes of my work.
…to practice every meaning of the word "Welcome."
…to focus on resilience and the right balance between work and my personal life.

These final resolutions reflect our desire to further develop our roles as teacher leaders.

I resolve…

…to invite my colleagues to join me in leadership.
…to remove the negative and toxic people from my personal and professional life.
…to remember that everyone is fighting a battle about which we know nothing.
…to network to find passionate people who can widen and deepen my learning.
…to truly listen to other teachers and become a more effective change agent by looking beyond a person’s words into what they value.
…to share specific reasons about why our profession is worthy of respect and support with at least one person each month outside the realm of public education.
…to keep in touch with my local representatives on issues involving public education.
…to work harder to build bridges with and among colleagues and administrators.
…to smile twice as much as I frown when attending staff meetings in 2007.
…to always be a positive force on our teaching staff.
…to try to be the kind of teacher who finds it hard to be humble about her professional accomplishments, rather than the kind of teacher who finds it hard to be proud of her chosen profession.
…to be thankful for treasured colleagues and intelligent conversation.

Some resolutions we keep. Some resolutions are destined for failure. My own resolution, though, I think I can keep: I resolve this year, and every year, to listen to those wiser than me, and let their words be my guiding force for improvement today and every day.

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