It’s the end of March, so that means according to most statistics we’ve probably forgotten about the majority of our New Year’s resolutions or goals by now. New year, new us…? Or just the same old us falling back into the same old habits? Is it just me, or does anyone else find it nearly impossible to become a totally new person once the new year hits? All of a sudden, I’m supposed to go from a normal human relaxing on my much needed break to a food prepping yogi who drinks copious amounts of water a day. Well, I’m sure you can guess how long that lasted…Especially amid a global pandemic!

After reading Jenny’s blog, Staying Sane While Teaching During a Pandemic, I’ve decided to start over again. New month, new me? Jenny touched on how important it is to reflect on your teaching. What went well today, and what can I do to change and improve my practices? As I reflect on my February, it was quite a blustery and cold one, living in the city of Chicago. This of course led to low motivation, binging Bridgerton and Below Deck, and a case of the blahs. Jenny’s fresh take on reflection helped me to remember that instead of feeling bad about this, I need to take action to create a healthy and reflective habit that will help me add productive value into my days and weeks. A routine such as this is sustainable for me to continue to grow and learn in my profession.

“Grab a cup of coffee and jump on a video call with a colleague to tackle these questions together.”

As a former teacher, I was constantly reminded of how hard the job is, especially March through May during testing season. I was lucky to have one of the best teaching teams who kept me going with candy, snacks, vent sessions, and collaboration. Teaching is hard and we need to help each other out any way we can. Jenny suggested, “Grab a cup of coffee and jump on a video call with a colleague to tackle these questions together.” So, I recently enlisted my marigold, and we’ve made a plan to check in at least once a day and catch up at some point over the weekend to talk about what went well and what areas we need to focus on.

My Plan to Stay on Track

  1. Where to start? I chose to journal with the ways I would like to grow in my career. I begin by writing the things I am grateful for, then the things I want to do or see happen in my career. Since I’m starting over, AGAIN, my March goal was to journal at least 20 out of the 31 days. Baby steps, right?
  2. It’s okay to start over every month. When I begin my journaling, I keep in mind that I don’t have to achieve all of this in one day, one week, or one month. I write down what I want, knowing that I can change my plan accordingly. 
  3. Take action. At the end of my journaling session I write 1-3 things I can do either that day or that week to start moving forward to make myself a better me. I mean, how good does it feel to tick off an item on the to-do list? 
  4. Instead of a regular old facetime call, my friend and I kick it up a notch by completing a yoga class, or Peloton bootcamp as we reflect together. The clarity that comes from a reflective exercise is astounding! 

Other Things to Keep in Mind as You Begin Your Journey…

  • You do you. If journaling is not for you, try another outlet. I have many friends who meditate, write, draw, keep planners, lists, etc. 
  • Start slow. Your new habit does not have to be a daily practice. 
  • Remember to have mental trust and confidence in yourself. You can do this – you’ve made it this far! 
  • Visualize yourself accomplishing these goals. Some people create vision boards and sketches. See if that helps with your plan or gives you any insight into what you think you might want to continue with.  

Wherever you are, whatever you do, the most important thing to remember is, you’re not alone. Teachers help teachers! What reflective practices work best for you? How do you keep it consistent? Will the change in weather help you with your goals? What are your tips for creating good habits? After reflecting on your professional development, what have you learned?

Ellen has several years of educational experience teaching at the elementary level. While teaching, she furthered her interest in technology by receiving her certificate in Blended Learning. Ellen uses her standards based assessment, technology, and subject matter expertise to plan engaging and productive trainings for Mastery Manager users. Outside of work, Ellen enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, and trying new restaurants in Chicago.

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