Keeping the Spark Going in 2016

Ringing in a new year always makes me stop, take pause, and reflect on the past one.  Without this ritual, it is not possible for me to recognize what I did well in the past year, and what I did not so well.  When I speak about doing well, it is always directly related to my students, their engagement, their growth, and their overall success.  It is NOT possible to measure my professional success without theirs.  However, it IS possible to face my failures with honesty and the determination to move on and continue to find better ways to design instruction and create an enriching learning environment to meet my learners’ needs.

In 2015, there were many “almost feeling the magic” moments of having the perfect balance of student-centered activities, differentiated and personalized learning, coupled with meeting learning targets and objectives.  Chasing after those magic moments, wanting them to happen each and every day, has been rewarding and exhausting. Even though I have felt exhausted and defeated at times, this chase for the magic is still worth pursuing each and every day.  But in order to sustain it, one needs to maintain the “spark”.

The spark is what lives inside us and defines who we truly are.  We bring it into our relationships, into our hobbies, and into our professions.  The spark fuels our individual passions that move us in all different directions throughout our lives. The spark, however, needs frequent tune ups and much protection from the possibility of extinguishing.  This is what can happen when we get distracted, lose our way, and forget “the why” of  what we are doing or the important roles we play in others lives.

Each individual has their own will and way of deciding how to cherish and guard the spark from diminishing.  Those who choose to ignore and disregard their spark, often times become complacent, cynical, and have lost a sense of purpose in their work, in their relationships, and in their lives.  This is why it is imperative for each of us to engage in the practice of maintaining and caring for our spark.  Educators especially need to be wary of this practice, since they’re responsible for helping others to recognize and ignite their own. In doing so, they can find their own spark dangerously diminished due to lack of care or concern for its strength.

Understanding the incredible importance of educators keeping their “spark on” is helping me to realize why I am so driven to inspire and motivate others.  Whether it is through sharing innovative ideas and resources, blogging, connecting on Twitter, learning with others at conferences, or offering some simple words of encouragement, I am dedicated to sharing my spark with other educators.  As a result, I have discovered that not only do they benefit, but their spark becomes brighter and so does mine.  And of course the most amazing by-product of this exchange, is that our students ultimately will benefit and be able to find the spark within themselves. #keepthespark2016

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