Establishing Your Vision for 2017
Most of you are either approaching the end of the semester or already on break. Congratulations! You did it. You made it through the first half of the year.
I’m sure right now the only thing on your minds are the sandy beaches of Cancun, Mexico or the snow capped mountains of Denver, Colorado. Why shouldn’t they be? You've definitely earned a vacation!
But before you pack your suitcase or make hotel reservations, it’s important to take the time to reflect on your accomplishments and set goals for the future. You belong to one of the most challenging and rewarding professions on the planet. What you were able to accomplish with a diverse set of students in only 3-4 months is what some people dream of accomplishing in an entire lifetime.
You structured learning in a way that engaged and challenged all of your students. You worked tirelessly to ensure they all met the standards while also helping them discover their diverse sets of talents and interests.
Acknowledge yourself for your accomplishments. You and I both know they didn’t come easy.
Now that you have finished reflecting on your accomplishments, it’s important to create a clear and concrete vision for what you will accomplish in 2017.
Why create a vision?
Creating a vision has the following benefits:
How many educators do you know that can tell you succinctly and with clarity what they want to accomplish with their students by the end of the school year?
I know hundreds of educators, spread across several systems and schools, and the ones that can achieve this are probably countable on one hand.
Because as educators, once the school year starts, we are in a mad scramble to make it to the finish line in one piece. For most of us, the school year is like a ball of snow, increasing in mass and speed as the year wears on. There are simply too many demands, with not enough time to accomplish what we know is best for our students.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Instead, the school year can be one that progressively increases in clarity and focus.
The wise educators know how to do this. They are the teachers whose classrooms emulate direction and purpose. Their rooms are peaceful, engaging, and well organized. Similarly, their students are self- directed, highly motivated, and engaged in personalized tasks.
Did these educators achieve this kind of homeostasis by luck or chance?
They achieved it because they had laser like focus on the end goal. They knew exactly what they wanted their students to accomplish by the end of the year, and developed a strategic plan on how to achieve it.
Creating our own Visions for 2017
How do we reach this state of homeostasis and clarity ourselves?
Simple. We create it.
I want to introduce you to a process that has literally changed my life as an educator. It has increased my focus, re-invigorated my purpose, and filled me with boundless energy.
The process is called a “Vision Board.”
If you’ve ever had a life coach, counselor, or read “The Secret,” you’ve probably heard of this. Quite simply, it’s a small board that you fill with visuals, quotes and magazine cut-outs to represent a vision of what you want your life to look like. The reasoning behind the board is also quite simple: By creating a vision of what you want your life to be, you will literally will it into existence.
Here’s an example of the vision board I recently created for myself for 2017:
Once I finished, I placed the board directly behind my office desk. It will serve as a constant reminder to engage in the activities that represent my most authentic and true self in 2017.
Imagine the transformation we will see in our classrooms in 2017 if we engage in this same process? Rather than ask ourselves why certain negative behaviors emerge in our students, we can instead be pro-active, and create the kinds of learners we want.
Steps to Create your Vision Board
Here is the simple six step process for creating your own vision board:
Step One: Find a quiet space and turn on music that fills you with joy
Step Two: Get a large piece of construction paper and write your class name in the middle (Ie. Mr. Wagner’s Class)
Step Three: Round up a bunch of old magazines
Step Four: Answer the following questions to help you establish your vision:
What kinds of things do you want your students to be doing in 2017?
What will you be doing as the teacher?
How do you want students to think?
How do you want them to act?
What behaviors do you want students exhibiting?
How will students demonstrate their learning?
What will your classroom space look like to support this learning?
How will students perceive you? How will you perceive them?
How will you interact with your colleagues? How will they perceive you?
Step Five: Find pictures, quotes and statements that represent answers to each of these questions
Step Six: Cut them out and paste them onto your vision board
When your vision board is complete, frame it and put it in a place you will see every day.
2017 can be a year of tremendous growth and learning in your students, but it starts with you. You, and only you are responsible for the learning that takes place in your classroom. Take the time to put your ambitions, goals and dreams on paper, and watch your classroom magically transform before your eyes.
Next week, we will learn how to set specific, measurable, and timely goals around our vision board.
Can’t Miss Podcast
The Power of Simple Podcast: Monday Evening, December 19th at 6 pm PST
On Monday evening, I will be interviewed by Marlene Gross-Taylor of #Edugladiators regarding my best selling book “The Power of Simple.” We will discuss how to live out our visions and transform student learning through simple, research- based strategies. My goal is that you, the listener will leave with techniques you can enact immediately upon returning to the classroom in early 2017.
Don’t miss it!