Optimize (My #OneWord for 2018)

One of the most exciting aspects of becoming an educator who values and appreciates being “connected” is the accountability factor. One annual example of this has been the #OneWord phenomenon, in which educators from across the globe openly commit to one word as a driving focus for the year. It’s proven inspirational to read what others share as theirs as much as it’s proven to be a source of strength to be able to focus on one word, amidst what is typically a high-energy, demanding lifestyle as a middle school principal. 

My own #OneWord journey began in 2015 with Perspective
It continued in 2016 with Stretch
And it evolved in 2017 with Elevate
This year, I have the added advantage of several blogging communities, which provides numerous accountability partners and mentors. One in particular has been an A to Z blogging project that a group of local connected educator friends and I have engaged in, via social media (Twitter and Voxer) and in person (unconferences, meet-ups,  and conferences). 
Back when this idea was first launched, the goal of the members in the group was to publish a post every two weeks, which would have neatly gotten us through the alphabet in a neat and timely manner. But of course, for those of us who have been around long enough to realize, learning (and life) is anything but neat and tidy. There are obstacles to progress, mental roadblocks, and external “politics of distraction”. It’s interesting to consider, if we can be forgiving of ourselves to get off track (or sidetracked), can we allow this more for our students and the adults in their lives? 
My #OneWord for 2018 is OPTIMIZE, which can be defined as to “make the best or most effective use of a situation, opportunity, or resource”.
Thinking back on 2017, I’ve learned a lot. But one thing I did not capitalize on enough was having the courage of some of my colleagues who participated in the #ObserveMe movement. That is why it’s at the top of my “to-do” list for 2018. 
Because feedback is one of the most complex, misunderstood, underutilized, and valuable aspects of being in education. As a school principal, it’s my responsibility to supervise and evaluate teachers. I view this process as a something between an act of compliance and an instructional coaching experience, in which I benefit as much if not more than the cooperating teacher in the process. One of the challenges to this process is that it’s an isolated, all-or-nothing event that has historically been something we have to “get through”. One has to ask, is “getting through” something going to yield long-term benefits to any party involved?
This is one of the driving reasons that in 2018, I will look to OPTIMIZE my impact as a school leader. Five core areas of focus for me to do this are:
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Learning
  • Leadership
  • Relationships
I invite anyone who is willing to help me grow and improve as a learning leader to take a few moments to provide me with some good, honest, constructive feedback. Whether we’ve interacted by way of a phone call or email, a meeting, video call, or presentation, I would love to hear from you. 
One disclaimer to remember, this is not about me. This is about being able to OPTIMIZE my impact for the students and staff in our school, the families and stakeholders in our community, and for one another, to help our profession flourish.
Happy 2018! What’s YOUR #OneWord?