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Resolve for the New Year

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! As we pause to celebrate with family and friends, this time of year naturally lends itself to the reflection necessary for a promising 2009. My post this month contains 5 professional resolutions for the new year. I encourage you to pick one and make it your own. In thinking about this post, I was reminded of the core definitions of resolution and resolve. There's no way around the words solution and solve in this thinking. While resolutions seldom seem to really solve a problem or provide a solution, I believe the collective impact of thousands of educators taking one of the actions below would be significant. I'm also interested in hearing of other resolutions relative to the professional lives we live. I read recently that only 30% of new year's resolutions meet with success. The keys to upping our odds are proper planning, measurable outcomes, and collegial/familial support.

Best of luck...

1. Write a personal mission statement relative to your professional life. Post it visibly, perhaps inside your closet door, as your screen saver, in the lap drawer of your desk, on the backside of your office door, or under the visor of your car. Share it with someone who will help you measure your progress and partner with you to grow professionally.

2. Become an unofficial (or official) mentor to a student in your building or district. Commit to having regular contact with the student, at least twice each month, perhaps during lunch. I recommend communicating with the parents/guardians as well. Let them know that you will be providing an extra level of support and encouragement for their child. There are many online resources for mentors, some of which apply more directly to the type of relationship I propose here. I recommend visiting the Mentor site for guidelines on individual mentoring or even starting a mentoring program.

3. Develop a professional growth plan, whether you are required to or not. Align it with standards, devise measurable outcomes, and detail the action required. I recommend looking at the standards developed by the American Association of School Administrators and the International Society for Technology in Education.

4. Learn the names of all the support staff in your building and those who frequent your building. Make a point of knowing at least one thing about their lives outside of work. If you struggle at times with names and details such as this, I recommend using a personnel directory that can be annotated as you pick up details through conversation. If you have a handheld device, much of this information can be recorded in your contacts.

5. Write to your elected officials regarding issues important to your school and community. Use your Entourage (or Outlook) Calendar to set a monthly reminder to email your thoughts and concerns. There are numerous online directories with emails for Members of Congress and other state and local officials. With this monthly reminder and saved email addresses in your online address book, you can easily send 12 messages to local, state, and federal policy makers in the new year.

These are five resolutions to get you started. I intend to take one of these and form another, more personal, resolution to begin my new year.

Happy Holidays and best wishes for wonderful New Year.

Dave Dimmett

[cross-posted at the old LeaderTalk blog (including comments)]

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