Happy New Year: Are you practicing your "one word"?

The second new year for school employees is coming January 1, 2015. As I stated in August, school employees are fortunate in that we have the opportunity to start a new year twice every year.

At Northwest AEA—during our first new year—the beginning of school opening day activities included watching a Jon Gordon video that challenged us to chose one word that would describe our goal/mission/hopes for the coming school year. If you are interested, watch his video here.

My one word for the year is "collaboration." Some of the activities that I'm consciously working on include: collaborating with personnel from the Iowa Department of Education; collaborating with education entities at the state level; collaborating with administrators at Northwest AEA; collaborating with superintendents and principals at schools; and collaborating with school boards.

When I think of the term "collaboration," I think of how we can work together in a systematic way for the benefit of all involved. An example of a systems-thinking approach is the Collaborating 4 Iowa Kids approach at the state level. The premise includes if the DE, the AEA system and local school districts work collaboratively together and align their efforts toward student achievement, students will succeed at a higher level.

I asked a few of our staff what they chose for their one word in August and how they have applied it thus far in the year:

- "My one word for the year is 'diligence.' When I think of the word 'diligence,' I think of the careful effort I make to select books that will spark an interest in our students. Practicing diligence in my daily work life certainly makes me a very productive employee."

- "My word for the year is, 'Positive!'  I can't say that I have been perfect at implementing my word....it is hard to stay positive all the time! However, I do feel like I have made a conscious effort to be more positive, even under time crunches or in difficult situations. I can only hope that my effort to focus on the positive has helped others around me - in the agency and in my schools - remain more positive, as well. With the start of the second new year, it is an opportunity for me to renew my commitment to be more positive at work, and in life. Here is to being more POSITIVE in 2015!  Join me!"

- "DETERMINATION... It is a key trait for success that I strive for every day. When our calendars are full, our emails are continuous, and our brains are multi-tasking, 'determination' is my guide.  Since each day poses a new set of teachers to inspire and various goals to achieve, I couldn't accomplish it without determination. Additionally, I use work that I've done with students in Persistence (Costa's Habits of Mind) and Grit (Duckworth's body of research) to inspire me. This quote by Mario Andretti summarizes it best: 'Desire is the key to motivation, but it's determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal—a commitment to excellence—that will enable you to attain the success you seek.'"

- "My one word was 'balance' as I perform multiple duties within the AEA including occupational therapist serving K-12 and birth-three, as well as being a member of the Autism team, the Challenging Behavior team, and the assistive technology team. My schedule is ever-changing, but I needed to focus on balance so that I felt all aspects of my job were getting the attention they deserved. In order to do this, I've scheduled specific times in my week that are flexible so I could address the questions and referrals from the teams on which I serve. Keeping a more specific schedule for my schools and families has been a priority to reduce make-up sessions for missed time. I've also built paperwork time into each month to ensure that I meet the deadlines I set for myself. All of these efforts have helped me to feel more organized, less stressed, and more productive in this school year."

The one-word challenge allows you to focus on a goal for you to work on and improve your professional life. You might want to consider your own word for the 2015 new year. I wish you well in pursuit of your professional and personal goals for the new year!!

Educationally yours,

Tim Grieves

On another note, be sure to check out our blogs, which we hope will inform, inspire and guide your daily work:

For a complete listing of all blogs, please go to the Northwest AEA website. You can also sign up for an RSS feed to automatically receive blog updates (instructions provided on the Northwest AEA website).

Educationally yours,

Dr. Tim Grieves
Chief Administrator