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Three Aspirations for Educators in the New Year

Green background, dark green swoosh. Title: Why Creating a Social Media Team is a Good Idea. Graphic: Pencil with ribbon around it.

January 2022

When it comes to making plans for the new year, it’s much more than just saying, I’m going to exercise more, I’m going to read five books, or I’m going to binge watch the first three seasons of “Yellowstone” before season four begins–oops, too late for that one. That’s why it’s so important to make a plan. 😉 

The end of the year is the perfect time to reflect and consider where we excelled as well as where we could improve in order to set some goals for which to aspire in 2022.  (I’m choosing to set aspirations (ambition of achieving something) rather than resolutions (firm decision to do something) because the last two years taught me that it’s important to be flexible with one’s plans.

ASPIRATION #1: MAP RELATIONSHIPS

The most important asset at Class Intercom is our clients. We love to follow along as our schools  tell their stories on social media. Although we can’t personally visit each school, we can follow, like, comment, share, and retweet their good news. We also love emails, texts, calls, and Zoom sessions, too. 

As our company continues to grow, it’s been fun to meet people from different states and countries around the world. Although finding a convenient Zoom time as we navigate different time zones can be tricky, the one commonality I’ve found with education professionals around the world is that we all care deeply about the people we serve. 

One of my Class Intercom goals for the new year is to build deeper relationships with our schools and make sure we know who they are and where they are. As a traveler, I also have an affinity for maps. In my own home, we have a world map marking where we’ve traveled as well as where we still wish to visit. We have another map with all the US National Parks, and  stickers mark the places we’ve explored. 

As we plan to move into our renovated office space in January, I’m excited to add two Push Pin Travel Maps: one for our US clients and one for our international clients. I’m excited that I’ll  be able to quickly access these maps and say, “We have 15 clients in Texas if you’d like a reference” or “I’m going to be in Sacramento in February, I could stop in and visit with your team” or “You are our very first client in Amman, Jordan!”

As humans we need relationships. What are the relationships that you need to be more intentional about cultivating in 2022? 

ASPIRATION #2: TELL MY STORY

As I’m setting goals for the new year, I also try to capitalize on achieved aspirations from the previous year. Last year, I purchased a hard cover, spiral bound planner even though I keep all my appointments, events, and family plans on an electronic calendar. During 2021, I faithfully used this hard copy  planner for personal items only:  

  • keeping  track of friends and family who needed prayers, phone calls, get well cards, and expressions of sympathy; 
  • setting  personal goals for health and well-being at the beginning of each week based on my schedule and the demands of having a busy family, a full-time career, and many hobbies; and 
  • taking notes from personal learning such as lectures, sermons, and book studies.  

I also used the check boxes in my planner much like these to track what I did and didn’t do. It’s interesting to reflect and see how much I accomplished on a personal level as well as how much room I have for growth. 

One of the things I learned from my personal reflection was how many stories I have to tell.  At Class Intercom we profess daily the importance of school’s telling their stories from multiple perspectives. In saying  this repeatedly and believing it to be true, I’ve realized the importance of sharing these stories with my family. 

Last year, on Mother’s Day, I subscribed my mom to StoryWorth so she could systematically share stories with her children and grandchildren in a format that would be both immediate and long lasting. One of my goals this year is to do the same. I’m committing to one story per week, and I’ve already started. It’s amazing what you learn about yourself in answering questions such as:

  • What were your friends like in high school?
  • Have you ever won anything?
  • What was your dad like when you were a child?

We all have stories to share. Who needs to hear your story? What stories need to be told? Who are the people in your school who need to tell their stories? 

ASPIRATION #3: ATTACK MY HAUNTING AMBITION

A friend of mine, Dr. Bernard Bull, recently shared a YouTube video, 9 Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions. He included several great ideas, but number eight really resonated with me. Inspired by Bill Hybels’ Holy Discontent: Fueling the Fire that Ignites Personal Vision, Dr. Bull shared that when you can’t stop thinking about something, you should probably do something about this “haunting ambition.” He also encouraged listeners to commit to doing at least one small thing each day for the entire year to combat the identified injustice or problem or concern.   

As I was listening, my haunting ambition popped into my head immediately. During the last three years of my tenure as a school administrator, I learned so much about restorative practices through study and observation; as a result, our staff was able to implement many of the basic practices of this philosophy with instantaneous results. 

While serving as an assistant principal, I also interacted with many students who faced disciplinary action due to inappropriate personal social media use that filtered into the school and caused a disruption of the learning environment. Although we tried to take advantage of the  “teachable moments,” most students faced some type of suspension for their behavior based on the school handbook. While some of the incidents were relatively minor, others involved bullying, harrassment, threats of violence, and sexual explotation.

In almost every case, the student involved had made the poor decision to post inappropriate content on social media to receive attention—and that’s exactly what they received: negative attention, which caused a disruption on the school campus.  Suspending  students out of school as a punishment for an infraction that took place outside of  school to spend more time away from school didn’t seem like the best solution to me, especially when the behavior continued after the disciplinary action. During my last semester, I developed a simple plan for how to use Class Intercom to use restorative practices for students who had used social media inappropriately. 

Students using social media inappropriately is what keeps me up at night. It is my haunting ambition to combat this issue. 

Rather than expelling students for these infractions (again, there are a wide range of factors to consider), I would like to develop a comprehensive restorative approach that addresses the negative behavior, strengthens the relationship among all adults and students involved, and teaches students how to (1) create social media content for their school and (2) track the response they receive from posting positive content. 

I’ve talked to school leaders about this idea multiple times in the last six months. Now, it’s time for me to take this idea for creating a curricular plan for schools–my haunting ambition–and make it a reality. 

What keeps you up at night? Write it down, explain it to yourself, and make a plan to combat it by doing something every day for the next 365 days. 

Do you want to help your students become the influencers they all aspire to be? Check out CGTV Season 2 complete with curricular guides, videos, and lesson plans.

Do you have a goal of starting a social media team in your district? Sign up now to receive an early bird copy of our eBook, How to Guide for Building a Team of Content Creators.

Do you want to learn more about analyzing  the social media use in your district? Read this blog, Creating a Social Media Report for Your School, which includes a template.

Author: Jill Johnson, EdD

Over her 30 year career in education, Dr. Jill has served in various roles including secondary ELA teacher, professional development consultant, and high school administrator. After completing her doctoral study, Technology Leadership Qualities in Secondary Principals in Nebraska who Support Student-led Social Media Teams, Jill began her tenure as Class Intercom President.

Jill can be contacted at jill@classintercom.com

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