Part 2 on Intentional Reflection: a year-end look

I recently published part one in this series on the importance of intentional reflection. In it I wrote, “Scheduled reflection leads to a more natural and ongoing metacognitive process throughout every stage of learning, leading to greater effectiveness in all areas.” I firmly believe in the importance of time spent weekly in reflective practice. This time of year, however, finds many of us in a deeper period of reflection as we look back over all that has occurred throughout the year and set goals for the upcoming year.

I found this on Pinterest and was instantly intrigued by the list:

At first glance, it seems a bit daunting, but I think the thoroughness of it makes it perfect for that year-end reflection cycle. So, on a quiet Saturday afternoon, I decided to use it to structure my time reflecting on my professional work for 2018. I typically prefer to “write” digitally, getting my thoughts out quicker than if I write it out by hand. For this exercise, however, I saw the importance of going slowly, giving my thoughts more time to form. I also wanted to dedicate space in a physical journal for each focus area.

Here’s what I found: identifying ten highlights came easily and I didn’t stop at ten. I did move on after the first twelve to the next focus area for the sake of the process, but it was gratifying to so easily find a plethora of accomplishments and best memories for this past year. Being a very relational person, one of my top highlights was making so many new connections, colleagues and friends. My business is built on these connections, and my work flourishes because I truly care about the people I’m partnering with. With that said, several of my highlights were new partnerships with companies like ROBO 3D, MyStemKits, Huston Tech, Training Perfected, Pipeline Alliance and my ongoing work with Advanced Learning Partnerships. The work is challenging, exciting, and so fulfilling.

On the other hand, I am still struggling with the 10 Disappointments. I’m going to chalk it up to being a positive person, but I can only come up with three, and one of them barely registers as a disappointment, because it was more of a growth area. In the spirit of transparency, I’m going to share those disappointments. I began writing my first book in earnest in January of 2018. My original goal was to have it finished by June. It’s still not done. Dan Greenwald, of Pipeline Alliance, and I submitted a proposal for SxSW surrounding the need to rewire education (either and both of us would love to talk to you more around this) that didn’t get accepted. While we were disappointed, this is the one that I’m viewing more as a lesson than as a failure. The third is one I need to work on more. I didn’t have the courage to submit a proposal to present at ISTE. I speak all over the country, and have worked with a school in Mexico to provide week-long training for their teachers, and yet I struggle with the confidence of submitting proposals for major conferences like ISTE.

The three Game Changers category was fun to explore. I’ve been consulting for three and a half years and have worked mainly outside of my home state of Indiana. Most of my work has also been in conjunction with Advanced Learning Partnerships. I love the work I get to do with them, and my mindset is in direct alignment with the company’s principles. There have been several events this year, however, that have expanded my views and shifted my priorities. I mentioned earlier about connecting with Dan Greenwald. He led me through a 30-10-0 coaching cycle that helped me refine my processes and procedures while helping me redefine my professional goals. I can’t speak enough about the importance of coaching. I am the coach in most of my professional relationships, and it was energizing to be on the other side of the table for my own coaching cycle. Then, in June, I attended my first ISTE and met Jerry Grauman, Ryan Legundi, and Braydon Moreno of ROBO 3D. A conversation with Jerry where I shared my belief that STEM strategies should be integrated throughout every content area led to a partnership with Manuel Herrera to create professional development programming for ROBO 3D and MyStemKits centered on design thinking in the classroom. While I often create new training workshops, this was the first major development I’ve undertaken in this area. A final game changer for 2018 for me was reconnecting with Joel Fenske of Huston Tech. In previous conversations, I thought I could only support their company by providing training on SMART technology solutions. Joel and I have had many conversations in the latter part of 2018, however, that explores a much deeper partnership within the company. These conversations helped broaden my views on how I can further support school systems in Indiana, and bring value to businesses in every industry.

It’s fairly obvious to know what I spent 2018 focusing on: developing relationships, trying new things, and creating new programs. All bring me a deep level of gratitude and energy to continue growing. Finding three things I forgot was almost as difficult as finding disappointments. I feel like I’m a pretty organized person, and I’m very driven so the only item that made this list is my book. I definitely didn’t forget about it, but I didn’t make it the priority that I wish I had.

This process was thought-provoking, encouraging, and fun. How will I use my reflections to inform my plans for 2019? Well, number one: I’m finishing that book! I’m also going to push myself to recognize my value and take more risks in putting that out into the world by submitting more proposals to present, produce more video blogs (another highlight was having a vlog nominated for an award with Nexus Education!), and exploring more connections for possible partnerships.

For now, I’m going to ruminate on these reflections a bit before fine-tuning them into new goals and action steps for 2019. If you decide to go through this process yourself, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Here’s to ending 2018 strong!

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