Professional Development Opinion

Attentive: My #OneWord for 2018

By Starr Sackstein — January 02, 2018 3 min read

Choosing #oneword that will shape an entire year of learning is always a bit daunting, but I enjoy the simplicity of whittling it down to a single intention by which to assess success, especially when the word seems to magically draw into focus.

Last year, I chose clarity and I achieved it in terms of many things in my life, not just professionally. Taking the opportunity to really zero in on what is important and allow the rest to fall away, even when it felt most uncomfortable, helped to define last year. In short, you can never wrong with more clarity, especially when many moving parts threaten the sanctity of what seems like knowing.

This year, however, I need to be intentional about my attention. No longer solely responsible for developing classrooms of learners through one beloved subject, now as a team leader, I’m responsible for hearing and understanding the needs of others doing this important task and helping them move forward.

Taking risks to help students grow has always been a strong suit of mine. Building relationships so they wanted to step up to the high board and have their turn at the scary dive for the benefit of personal learning and collective understanding and it isn’t as different outside of the classroom as I had previously thought.

This new role offers a plethora of wonderful opportunities to strengthen and grow my own growth mindset while helping others to do the same. Miraculously, once you throw yourself completely into something new, there is a recognition of areas that continue to need strengthening.

I’ve always been a bit of a loner and/or a rebel, willing to flagrantly break rules and make messes with the end masterpiece in mind. No longer able to maintain the role of “loner”, again I shed the comfort of my own needs and step into classrooms of others. These aren’t inherently my spaces, but they are our shared kids.

That being said, really being attentive to the needs of the students, the educators, and the others on the administrative team are essential for the betterment of the whole. Change is a hard business but with the right support and scaffolding, doesn’t need to paralyze.

So at the start of 2018, I once again commit to getting into classrooms, observing with my whole self as I watch students and teachers interact, listening to teachers share their needs and concerns and making the best decisions I can make to benefit as many folks as possible.

Of course, I accept that I won’t make everyone happy all of the time, but I’m prepared to do what must be done to ensure the forward movement of the team we are developing. The needs of students must be the driving impetus for movement, not our egos or experiences. The children who learn alongside us must dictate the choices we make and that is an absolute that cannot be compromised.

Knowing that change continues to grow more imminent, I will watch, listen and respond to the needs of all the members of my team to the best of my abilities. It’s hard to shift practices that we have all grown comfortable with wearing that skin. It’s time to shed it and emerge stronger as a team.

Each day we will do one more thing that:

  • Puts students in charge of their learning
  • Removes another barrier to access of experiences
  • Lessens the reins on the control we have in our spaces
  • Intentionally increases choices and awareness of our own processes
  • Incorporates more reflective practices into our assessment of student learning
  • Challenges our comfort in order to make more inclusive learning spaces
  • Uses the right modern tools for learning that better prepares students for life outside our district
  • Makes our team stronger by collaborating and sharing ideas

New years are exciting. It’s time to capitalize on the excitement and move forward in a sustainable and meaningful way.

What is your #oneword for 2018 and how will you implement it? Please share

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.