A Year of Learning

As the year winds down, I find myself thinking frequently about all the change I’ve gone through. This post doesn’t have a particular theme or any real deep insights…more of a year-in-review.

— This time last year, I was in Thailand riding an elephant. It was probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and I think about it frequently. If anyone ever asks you to go to Thailand, stop what you are doing, and get on the airplane. You won’t regret it.

— I feel very blessed to have a home in the United States, but some days (many days) I do wish I lived a simpler life. Having the opportunity to travel within Asia really gave me perspective on how much I take for granted. I’m much more aware of the luxuries I have access to and I try and share that with my students, but it is very hard to communicate that feeling to others.

— Moving back to the US from abroad had more culture shock involved than moving abroad from the US.

— The power of connections through social media cannot be ignored. I searched for work for six months before connecting with Brett Clark in Evansville, IN. He contacted me to Skype into a learning session on the Flipped Classroom and it ended up being an interview for my current position. For that, I am extremely thankful.

— American public schools are in need of innovators and our students need people that care about more than standardized test scores. Learning has been killed by testing and I refuse to let the status quo proliferate in my classroom.

— Sometimes the best thing we can do for our schools is be present. We don’t always need to be vocal about making changes. Change happens naturally from practice, not from always being “that guy.” Cause more ripples in the pond…don’t drop bombs all the time.

— I need to celebrate failure as much as (more than?) successes. That is including student failure alongside my own. I have been extremely aware of learning through mistakes lately.

— Learning is important to me, but I need to take times to step back and let my brain rest.

— When I let my brain rest, it usually means my body is working hard. I helped build a garage last weekend and it was great to be outside working with my hands, even though I know nothing about building anything more substantial than a pillow fort.

— My wife and I did homemade Christmas gifts this year and I am thinking about making that the norm rather than a one-time deal. We still bought small gifts for one another, but the bulk of our gift-giving was DIY. I feel much more excited about giving this year than I have in the past.

— Driving between our families’ homes is tiring, but it is so nice to be able to actually drive between homes during the break.

— I have a lot of work coming up once break is over, but that is a full week away. Right now, I am home, with my family, and that is where I need to be.

Take time this year to be present. Don’t just exist in the room, but invest in your parents, your spouse, your kids, or whoever you’re with. Be intentional about looking people in the eye and connecting this year. Focus on the same with your students when we go back to school. But above all: continue to learn, continue to grow.

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