Clean Slates

So we’re already two weeks into 2018 and I have to say, it’s really fun to be back with the kids. The holiday break was fantastic for sure, and like many of you I feel rested and ready to tackle the second semester, with the palpable excitement of building on the first half of the year. I love this time of the year honestly because we’re so set up now to make a real impact in the lives of our students, and if we get it right, the next few months will be arguably the most important ones of the year for learning. You see, after 5 months we now truly know our kids, we know each other, we’ve settled into our school imperatives, and we’ve reflected on our practice leading up to this point. January always feels like a clean slate for me, and the month that can absolutely influence the year in incredibly powerful ways.

I’ve written before about the idea of New Year’s “reflections” instead of New year’s resolutions, and my feeling is that if we look back critically at how we ended the year (first semester) it can help authentically shape the realistic ways that we can best move forward. In my opinion, there is nothing harder than changing either professional practice or personal habit, and there is nothing easier than letting a New Year’s resolution go unfulfilled. To really make a difference in our lives, and in the lives of our kids, it’s going to take some honest reflections and some discipline. We can either make the changes in our lives that we want, and that are needed, or we can fall into the trap of complacency and routine. That’s the opportunity that we have as we begin the new semester, and what an opportunity it is.

I spent a good portion of my holiday reflecting (and eating), and I’ve identified some areas in my life and in my professional practice that could use some attention. I’ve set some second semester goals for myself and I’ve talked about these openly and I’ve written them down. Of course, it’s one thing to talk about them and a very different thing to actually put them into action. I want to start communicating more effectively, I want to start giving more to others in need, I want to do better for our environment, I want to stop worrying so much about my first world problems, and I want to find more courage to help make the changes in our school that are needed to drive our imperatives forward…this is the month to start, and this is the time to start decorating that clean slate.

I want to challenge all of you over the next couple of weeks to take some time to reflect (if you haven’t already) on the first semester, and to identify some areas that can make you better versions of yourselves. Identify them, talk to someone about them, write them down and find the discipline to make them a reality. January is a busy month in schools and it’s no different for us, so use the upcoming professional development conversations to jump start your year, and set you on the path to change. Take advantage of this opportunity everyone…this clean slate month of January, and make 2018 your best year to date. Happy New Year and happy decorating…bring those clean slates to life! Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other. Here’s my favorite New year’s poem for you to contemplate…

 

Life I am the New Year.


I am an unspoiled page in your book of time.
I am your next chance at the art of living.
I am your opportunity to practice what you have learned about a life of reflection and giving.


All that you sought and didn’t find is hidden in me,
waiting for you to search it out with more determination.
All the good that you tried for and didn’t achieve
is mine to grant when you have fewer conflicting desires.
All that you dreamed but didn’t dare to do, all that you hoped but did not will,
All the faith that you claimed but did not have —
these slumber lightly, waiting to be awakened
by the touch of a strong purpose.


I am your opportunity
to renew your allegiance to a life fulfilled
I am the New Year.


— Author Unknown

Quote of the Week…

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice

– T.S Eliot

 

Related Articles –

An Academic’s New Year’s Resolutions

My New Year’s Resolutions

Education Post – New Year

The Global Search for Education

New Year, New You

 

Inspiring Videos to begin the New Year –

Oprah’s Golden Globe Speech

A 27 Year Old’s Advice to the World

An Incredible Gift

Against Discrimination 

Knowing Our Kids (A Goal of Mine)

About Daniel Kerr

Dan Kerr is now Lower School Director at the American School of Paris. He previously served as Intermediate Division Principal at Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador, and prior to that was the Middle School Principal at SCIS in Shanghai, China. Dan has also worked at JIS in Jakarta, Indonesia and he began his International career in Abu Dhabi. Dan is thrilled to be joining the ASP family and will be accompanied by his wife, Jocelyn, who will be working as a counselor, and his two children, Max and Gabby. 
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