Before Heading into the New Year, Reflect on the Past One

Thoughtful serious african professional business man sit with laptop thinking of difficult project challenge looking for problem solution searching creative ideas lost in thoughts at home office deskThe New Year is a time for resolutions, goal-setting, and new beginnings. However, how can you best chart a course and determine where to go next without first reflecting on where you’ve been? The best way to plan for the future is to consider past successes, opportunities that did not achieve optimal results, and lessons learned. So, this year, as you begin the exciting process of setting personal and professional goals and planning areas of focus for a successful 2022, start by reflecting on 2021. The following guided questions will help.

What goals did you set at the end of 2020 for 2021?

Did you achieve them? If so, which ones? For those that you weren’t able to achieve, what were your barriers? Are any of your incomplete goals ones you want to revisit in 2022? If so, how would you approach them this year to overcome the obstacles you previously faced?

What are three things you achieved in 2021 for which you are proud?

Beyond the goals you set, what are you proud of accomplishing? Your list might include new learning modalities with which you experimented in your classroom, a breakthrough in your parental communication approach, or a certification you achieved that will help you progress in your career. Write them down, and don’t be modest.

What are three things that disappointed you in 2021?

It’s okay to identify failed plans, moments of frustration, or broken connections, especially if you can turn missed opportunities into areas of focus. For example, perhaps you struggled to help students grasp a concept using new technology or tools. How might you improve upon the lesson next year? Did the challenge stem from the modality? Could more prep work on your part have helped you connect with students who struggled with the concept? Take what you’ve learned and try, try again next year.

Could you benefit from a mentor?

If you don’t currently have a mentor, consider the benefits of reaching out to someone in 2022 for coaching and career advice. Mentorship programs don’t need to feel formal. Reflecting on the interactions you’ve had over the past year, identify a colleague or peer you respect whose career path is one you’d like to emulate. Ask them if they’d be willing to meet for coffee to provide some career advice occasionally. The counsel you receive from them might be some of the most valuable career moments you’ll enjoy this year.

How might you give back?

If you’re not already involved in a non-profit or passion project, consider if there is a local or national cause that you might have an hour a month to focus on this year. Think about the causes, issues, or areas of need that impacted your life or the lives of your students in 2021. Is there an opportunity for you to get involved in 2022? Community service helps those in need, creates valuable personal connections and a motivating sense of personal achievement.

For many families, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 was a year of continued hardship. With 2021 ending, a conscientious reflection on its challenges and achievements personally and professionally will put you in a powerful state of mind to head into 2022 prepared to be the best version of yourself and the best possible leader in your classroom.

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