What I'm Feeling

10 Questions for the New Year

These questions were offered as part of owning and using the Day One journaling app (which is awesome, by the way). I decided to post my responses on my site. I encourage you to post your own responses to these questions on your website or blog. Have an enjoyable holiday season! -Matt

1. What was your favorite single day/single event of the year?
The day I resigned my position as an administrator in my former district. The reasons are complex and matter little. For the first time in a while, I felt empowered regarding my future. I don’t think I would have taken the risks of looking for a new position if I had not made this first step of letting go.

2. What was the best thing you built/created?
The white paper The Secrets of Self-Directed Learning. It became a free eBook for FreshGrade (www.freshgrade.com). This work allowed me to pour much of what I know and believe about classroom instruction into a longer form of writing. I hope teachers find it useful in their practice.

3. What was the most impactful decision you made for you and your family’s future?
Bringing my family to Mineral Point, WI has certainly been impactful. This is a very tight knit community. They have welcomed us with open arms. Everyone’s support during our transition was critical to this move.

4. What was your best financial achievement?
I don’t know if this is a financial achievement…in taking the position of elementary principal in Mineral Point, I was able to negotiate a certain amount of flex time for writing and everything else that comes with it. It is a benefit that should help me find better balance between my role as a principal and as a writer.

5. Did you achieve any lifelong goals?
This fall I took a course titled Technology and School Leadership at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This was an great educational experience. It might also be my first step toward pursuing a PhD in education. The work involved is formidable, from what I am told. I haven’t decided on anything yet.

6. What was the hardest lesson you learned over the past year?
That regardless of how qualified one might feel about a position, people hire based on who they feel would be a best fit for their organization. I had interviews for curriculum positions prior to taking a position at Mineral Point. These rejections have been blessings in disguise, as we are very happy here.

7. Did you develop any new hobbies or passions? Are there any new hobbies or passions you want to develop in the New Year?
My wife bought a new acoustic guitar for me for Christmas. I used to play and even take lessons until my teacher left. With all of the online resources available now, I am looking forward to learning how to play again.

8. What was the most humbling experience of the past year?
That would have to be how well we have built trust in our new school. This is a staff that has had six principals in the past ten years. To make a significant amount of progress in such a short amount of time is humbling. The support from individuals from my prior school community have been just as supportive. I am very fortunate.

9. What is the one thing you are most grateful for from this past year?
That I no longer have two mortgages? That one is too easy… I think I most grateful for my family. We have gone through a significant change. Their health and well-being has been something I have tried to not take for granted.

10. What are your personal goals for the coming year? Family goals? Religious goals? Health goals? Financial or career goals?
Personally, I want to continue to make gains in balancing work and home life. There really is no clean separation between the two, especially with my writing. Yet it is worth pursuing.

Family, religion, health…these all seem to run together for me. One thing that has helped is developing a comprehensive calendar. It includes all of my events and commitments. I feel more efficient at school, which allows me to be more present for family, spiritual and physical well-being.

Career-wise, I am closing in on submitting my first draft of a new manuscript for an ASCD resource. It is a follow up to my previous book on digital student portfolios, this time centered on teacher practice. I’ve also had the opportunity to design and eventually teach online graduate courses for prospective administrators through the University of Wisconsin-Superior. They say you don’t truly understand something until you teach it.

These opportunities have given me perspective on how I should best use my time, energy and expertise. This has meant saying “no” more often than usual. And in saying no to what is not a priority, I should be better able to say “yes” to what is.