My mental calendar year always refreshes in August. I plan my life around the highs and lows of an academic calendar. So it is at this time of year I make my professional resolutions, and from what I’ve read on the Twitter, #edchat and #edtech lists, I am in good company.
This year I am thinking specifically about impact: The impact my graduate students have on their k-12 students and the impact our eLearning group has on both our faculty and students. Most specifically, I am thinking about the impact of modeling great practices, especially in the use of digital media and eLearning environments that are truly viable and replicable in a school environment.
To get my thoughts flowing, I’ve been using the following process for the past three years to reinvigorate my teaching, scholarship, and the way I lead and manage.
First, I reflect on any issues that need to be solved or addressed. Usually upon reflection (including consultation with peers), I almost always find hidden opportunities and untapped potentials. I consider these opportunities and then determine what kind of change, or rethinking, that needs to occur personally, curricularly and/or organizationally to foster these new ideas. At this point I am feeling pretty refreshed and invigorated. Ideas are flowing, especially on trying to carve out solutions to old problems. From here I craft a couple of tangible resolutions or goals for the year to focus on.
The trick is to keep things manageable and scalable. This is the hardest part. When crafting a goal or resolution that is bigger than just your own personal work, make sure you list the tangible aspects of what you hope to personally achieve. Remember this is about reinvigorating yourself for the upcoming year so picking something like “Get all my colleagues to use Moodle” is something that might be absolutely the right thing to do, but may not be something that you can achieve 100% on your own, without enlisting the support of other stakeholders. If you don’t have stakeholder support yet, perhaps a more tangible reframing of the goal might be “Help my colleagues understand the benefit of using a tool like Moodle” is a stronger, more focused start. (And this will help build stakeholders and support).
I find there is an important distinction between reinventing and reinvigorating. In the spirit of resolutions, to invigorate is to generate energy, excitement and focus. I don’t think we want to enter a new academic year saying we are reinventing with our students and colleagues. We do want to begin the year with reinvigorated spirits so we can create fertile ground for student and faculty potential to flourish. This year is my resolution is to make instructional impact one student, one course, one faculty, and one department at a time.
What hidden opportunities are waiting for you to discover? Comment and let us know!