Reflecting back…

After taking some time to relax and enjoy the holidays with friends and family, it was time to conquer the list. You know “the list” I am referring to. I had post it notes all over the house and at school. They were typically filled with tasks that I dreamt about or woke up abruptly at 2:00 am thinking about.

As I combined the pile of lists into one, here are just a few of the items: Write the January newsletter, archive August – December newsletters, research cyber bullying programs, finish final two first round evaluations, schedule round two evaluations for January and February, draft the weekly bulletin for the week of January 6th, adjust the dates for our fall spring book study, create the PPT for our character assembly, follow up with police and student resource officer regarding student attendance, develop a budget for our 2013-2014 charter school focus, review the Scholastic News grant requirements, review and analyze benchmark # 2 data, send a Google invite to teachers for the character assembly and family night, check the dates our special education team will be using the media center for trainings, and check the spring professional development calendar to ensure dates are accurate. I also decided to add some personal goals: register for the celebration of accomplished teaching, register for the half marathon in January, schedule skydiving with a friend (our indulgence for submitting and achieving NB recertification), clean up Christmas decorations and update address labels for next year.

I was able to cross off a number of items on my list, feeling good about this I added another – clean up email. Over the past semester I have let my emails pile up to over 3,000. I don’t know why, it was just easy to skim through and read emails and forget about them as they transferred to the “read emails” section. When I came across important ones, I would star or check them, reconfiguring them to another “safe” place within my email. So, I navigated through each email, in hopes of deleting. Soon I was down to 2 “unread,” 121 “starred,” and 135 in the “everything else.” Of course this does not include those emails that have been placed in special folders. This is just what I see when I open my email. I think I can even minimize these folders further, but that might be another item on the list.

I was hoping to read, delete, read and delete, and cross it off the list, however as I read through I began to reflect on the past several months, reflect on how we as a school have come together to overcome obstacles. Now six months into school, it is easy to forget about these challenges. We began the year implementing a new curriculum program, we embraced three additional self contained special education classes and three sixth grade classes on our campus, we navigated through and elevated conversation during monthly meetings with parents, staff and students creating our academic focus for 2014-2015 school year, we said good bye to a first grade teacher and embraced the return of another, we pulled together with the tragic death of a first grade student, we remained consistent in light of the ebb and flow of student enrollment, we came together to evacuate our school during a significant water leak the week prior to Christmas break. I could continue on, but what I found interesting was how “cleaning up” my email provided me an opportunity to reflect on the first semester.

In what ways have you reflected on the past semester? What surprised you?



Jen Robinson

Jen Robinson

Maricopa, Arizona

Hello, my name is Jen Robinson. I have been in education for over 20 years. I began teaching in Buffalo, NY in 1992, as a pre-school special education teacher. My experience ranges from primary grades through high school. My husband and I moved to Arizona in 2001, where we were fortunate enough to teach at the same school. In 2004, I achieved National Board Certification and currently support candidates. In 2011 I completed my Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. My dissertation research focused on supporting National Board candidates through their certification process. During the 2012-2013 school year, I completed my National Board renewal process. It was humbling and very powerful to step back into a classroom. I am currently an elementary principal. I am excited and hopeful for the new school year. I also serve on the Arizona Teacher Solutions Team where we are solutions focused in an effort to transform and elevate the teaching profession.

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