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Thursday, December 26, 2013

7 Things I Learned This Year

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For the last three weeks I've seen too many lists of things. The best of this and the worst of that. What I should be doing and what I shouldn't be doing.   What I should buy and what things are a waste of money. Everybody is an expert about something, it seems.

About the only thing I really know about is myself. I decided I would write down a list of things I learned this year. The first few items are some things I learned about myself and social media. This post is just something for me - like a diary entry. But I know a few might end up reading it. Maybe some of these things will resonate with readers. Maybe not.  I just hope that if you are still reading that you have a wonderful 2014, filled with good health and good cheer.

(1)  As with all things in life, I learned this year that there are some people who toot their own horn much too loudly. I know some who are great people with big, caring hearts and, yet, they are constantly tweeting all of the incredibly cool things they are doing. We hear about every person they interact with and every restaurant they eat in. We know their favorite drinks and how awesome they are physically.

At first I thought I was just being envious or, even, jealous. But then I heard some people that I really admire complaining about certain people getting away from who they really are. I wasn't alone in thinking that this was incredibly narcissistic. Sometimes I feel like I don't promote myself enough on Twitter. At those moments I step back and tell myself it's OK - I'm doing fine.

(2)  And with that... I don't get on Twitter much any more. I learned that keeping up with social media is incredibly time consuming. Over 5 years of being on Twitter and having over 2000 followers means that I get access to a ton of tweets. I use Tweetdeck to manage it all and I have my key Tweeps and hashtags that I follow in their own columns. But it still takes up too much time.

When you get away from Twitter for a few days (or weeks) you can really feel like the proverbial "third wheel" when you want to join in on a conversation. Most of the folks who follow me or I follow are good about welcoming me into their discussion but I still feel a bit awkward.

(3)  Facebook just isn't my thing.  I check it a few times each week but I rarely write anything on there more than about once a week. There's too much drama and too much politics and too much stuff that I was happy not knowing about. There's not much more to say about that.

(4)  Sometimes things aren't a good fit - and that's OK. I used to beat myself up if I wasn't a perfect fit in everything I attempted in life. At (nearly (next week)) 56 I now know that it doesn't always work like that. I wasn't a good fit at Manor New Tech H.S. but I made it through 4 years there because I felt I had to make it. When I moved on I felt like I had failed (and, in some ways, I had) but what was more true is that I didn't have the right personality for that place - I just didn't fit.

(5)  On a much more positive note, this year I started to write a book with my friend Telannia Norfar. And I learned that writing a book is incredibly demanding. We have tried several different incentive programs, with ourselves, and it is still difficult to put in the requisite time. We are about 6 months into writing and we haven't hit the 10,000 word mark yet. But we're going to finish in 2014.  Wish us luck (and the ability to stay strong).

(6)  I've written about this many times over the last 12 months, but I really am proud of what our teachers have achieved this year.  I learned that staying positive sure helps with that process.  When this school year started we put a lot of requirements on our teachers. From backward design in our planning process to creating a classroom culture for the gradual release of responsibility, our teachers met the challenge and (for the most part) have really put together powerful learning environments for our students.

I had to talk myself down a few times. Those 20 years of military life wanted to come barking through - (Just do it, damn it! Stop asking why! Grrrrr.....).  I can't wait until the beginning of next school year as we polish these processes up and make them shiny while adding only minimal (additional) requirements.

(7)  Finally, I learned that getting "back in shape" is easy to put on the back burner (doing something about it isn't). Being 56 and more than 56 pounds overweight do NOT go together well. Unless I do something about it I won't see 60. I have got to figure out how to get a schedule that I can maintain for more than two weeks. Once I can get into a habit of working out regularly then I will feel more compelled to do something about how awful I look and feel.  in 2014 I need to move it to the front burner and, pardon the pun, get hot!

Of course these weren't the only things I learned this year, but these were the first that came to mind. After looking over my list I have determined the following: I want to find more time to connect with Twitter but I want to concentrate on sharing good stuff.  I want to limit myself to even less time on Facebook - it's just not a place I enjoy going to.  I plan on doing more to help my teachers but I need to find a way to get more time for them and more time for myself during the work day. And, finally, I need to get out the door and start working out. If I don't have good health I won't be any help to anyone. I look forward to the new year. I hope to be able to write about some great things I learned this year at the end of next December.