Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Less Is More

"Everybody needs a little time away, I heard her say, from each other" Okay, I'm really dating myself here.  Any of you remember that 80s Chicago song, Hard To Say I'm Sorry? Can you hear Peter Cetera's awesome voice? Click here if you'd like to take a listen.

Today is the first day since January 6 that I've visited the Twitter site.  I've tweeted a few things here and there directly from a site, but never once went on Twitter.  In an attempt to keep my One Word resolution for 2015 and prioritize my time, I took the Twitter app off my phone and decided to put myself in a little time out.  Unlike the song, it's not hard to say I'm sorry because there's nothing to apologize for.  Quite the contrary, I'm proud that I was able to stay away and meet my goal of staying off Twitter for 21 days.  While I never intended on staying away forever, I do plan on spending less time on Twitter and more time investing in the people and activities that are most important.  I won't be tweeting, retweeting or chatting as much as I used to, but whenever I do tweet, I hope to make it count.  I also hope to moderate or co-moderate a chat at some point so I can help teachers grow as much as I have thanks to this amazing social medium. Like everything else in education, it's all about quality not quantity.

And isn't that why we are in the education profession anyways?  For most of us, especially in North Carolina, we are not in it for the pay.  Many of us work our tails off for [much] less than perfect test scores.  Despite the many days we come home drained and frustrated, wondering why we do what we do, it's those few and far between moments that make it all worthwhile. Sure, it would be great to have higher salaries, increased test scores and more good days than bad days, but for those of us that choose to remain, the magic is the quality not the quantity.

I learned a great deal about myself during my time out period and I still have a way to go. One thing's for certain.  It's time to declutter my life and get rid of some of the extra stuff that does little more than take up space (or time).  It's time to focus on my priorities and cling to the essentials - to what generates growth.  It's all about quality not quantity because less is often so much more.

#BestYearEver

Friday, January 16, 2015

Time Out

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that in the last year I spent way too much time tweeting and reading tweets. After discovering the exciting world of Twitter and connecting with all those amazing educators, I was hooked in a big way and grew exponentially.  My instruction and my mindset were transformed and I'm so thankful for those virtual encounters.  However, it's now time to take it all to the next level, even though as I stated last time, I'm not exactly sure what that means. So, as I prepare for what's to unfold, I have resolved to prioritize my life in 2015 so I can live a healthier, more productive life, and therefore, I decided to give my tweeting a time-out.  

Webster defines "time-out" in three ways: (1) a short period of time during a sports event when the game stops and the players rest or talk to their coach (2) a short period of time when you stop doing something so that you can rest or do something else (3) a short period of time when a child must sit quietly as punishment for behaving badly.  At first I thought the time-out for me would be more of a time of rest so I can do something else.  However, the more I think about it, I wonder if perhaps a little of each definition would apply.  While I'm not necessarily punishing myself, all that time spent connecting with fellow educators, although justified as PD, undeniably took away from family time, rest and other essential duties.  Many nights, I found myself staying up late to plan or grade projects because earlier that evening I had joined a Twitter chat or spent too much time reading blogs and tweets.  While my intentions were good, I need to find some balance. And just as a sports event is stopped for players to rest and talk to their coach, I am utilizing this time to seek out my coach (my Lord) and determine a winning strategy.

Now let's not throw out the baby with the bath water.  As all three definitions suggest, this time-out is certainly intended to be for a short period of time.   I feel that 2015 is year of renewal, of redirection, of breakthrough, and I believe that this time of rest from Twitter as well as other social media will help prioritize my life and move me closer to achieving my personal and professional goals. I have a good feeling about this year and I'm using this time-out as a sort of cleansing that will prepare me for the great things that are in store. If nothing else, this time of rest will serve to declutter my life and bring me closer to those who physically surround me.

Believing this to be the #BestYearEver!

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015: Time To Prioritize

As I enter 2015, the 15th birthday of the 21st century, I was prompted to think about the "Quinceañera", the momentous 15th Birthday of a Hispanic girl.  The 15th Birthday, commonly referred to as "Quinceañera" or "Quinces" is symbolic of a girl's transition from childhood to womanhood. Back in my mother's time, girls didn't wear makeup or high heels and didn't date until they turned 15. Things have changed and many girls do all that and much more before turning 15, but it still remains a pivotal moment in a young Hispanic girl's life.  Free dictionary defines it as a Mexican celebration and I must say its definition is inaccurate. It's a Hispanic tradition celebrated in all countries where Spanish is spoken and celebrations are as varied as the Spanish dialects themselves. For instance, for Mexicans it is both a religious and social event, whereas for Cubans as myself and many other Hispanics, it is merely social.  Regardless of background, it's a memorable occasion for the birthday girl as most families splurge on an elaborate party, exotic vacation or a lavish gift.

So what does this have to do with 2015? Well, last week I read this blog post about One Word. Instead of coming up with a long list of resolutions which will likely be forgotten before January is over, the One Word concept suggests that if we select one word for the year and focus on it, we will achieve real transformation. In my search for that one word, I reflected on my professional growth during 2014.  Last year, I discovered the world of Twitter and was greatly impacted.  Thanks to this social medium, I am now more connected, more reflective, more inspired and most of all more intentional in my instruction as well as my professional development.  Like a child in its first year of life, I grew tremendously.  However, after a year of milk, I am ready for some solid food and just like a Quinceñeara, I am ready to move into a new level.

At this point, I'm not sure what all that will mean, but I'm open and attentive to opportunities that will come my way.  One thing I do know is that I need to prioritize so that I can be productive and fulfilled, both professionally as well as personally.  Like everyone else, I want to lose weight, grow spiritually, read more books, spend more quality time with family and help those less fortunate, all that while I continue my growth as an educator.  And how in the world will all that get done?  By prioritizing of course.  I considered choosing focus as my "one word" but what I really need to do is prioritize and then focus on my priorities.  There are activities I will need to shed or cut down on and take on some new ones, but in order for my life to be complete, I will need to keep my priorities straight.

It's been quite a few years since I celebrated my "quinces" and life's ups and down have matured me lots since then, but I'm taking 2015 as a rite of passage.  Even though I have no idea where I'm headed, I know who holds the future and I'm excited to see what's in store.

Happy New Year, my friends.  Last year was amazing but I think 2015 will be the #BestYearEver