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The Second New Year

New Year's Fireworks Exploding

Being in education is great for so many reasons. One of my favorites is having two new years. The new year in August when all of our kids come back and the new year in January when our calendar turns over. While August brings new students, and a new school year full of possibilities, January’s “second new year” offers a chance to start fresh without the stress of getting your classroom set up or meeting new students. The combination of a fresh start with extra energy from a winter break can be the catalyst for many to dive into something new! If this is you, here are some tips to kick off your second new year!

• Make a list of new ideas or tools that both intrigue and scare you: There are probably a lot of concepts, tools, apps and programs you’ve heard of but haven’t had a chance to try. Genius Hour! Classcraft! Google Expeditions! Hour of Code! Makey Makey! Spheros! Make a list of the ones that most excite you, but also potentially most terrify you. erhaps you’ve always wondered about introducing coding to your curriculum, but your high school English teacher brain says you don’t know code so have no business trying. To this I say – YES YOU CAN (side note: if this is literally you, check out high school English teacher Nick Provenzano’s book, ). So, take out a piece of paper, open a new Google Doc or clear a space on your whiteboard. Write down a list of all the things you’ve been wondering about and then…

• Create a risk-taking calendar: Once you have this list, it’s time to commit to some good old fashioned risk taking. Carve out an hour or two once a month – if you’re ambitious try every other week – and assign “playtime” to explore an item on your list. Don’t just say you’ll do it, actually open up your calendar or planner and write it in. After you have your dates set, it’s time for you to…

• Recruit a critical friend: Playtime is better with friends, and so is exploring new concepts. So find a colleague who wants to try new ideas in the new year as well. Invite him or her to your playtime calendar appointments and help keep each other accountable to risk-taking! Once you’ve begun your journey together, a great next step is to…

• Start a blog: You might think – but I don’t have anything to share yet! YES YOU DO! Every story deserves telling and oftentimes the most powerful ones are those about brave folks (i.e., you) setting out on a journey (i.e., exploring new ideas for your students). Share what you’re trying, what went well AND what went wrong and whether you think it has any merit for impacting student learning. By sharing your experiences, you’re not only paying it forward and helping your colleagues, you’re practicing great reflection. Finally, my last tip is to…

• Sign up for a conference: Learning from home or your classroom can be convenient and powerful, but attending a larger event is also rewarding. The energy and passion of being surrounded by so many fellow educators can be euphoric and pull you out of any lingering district doldrums. So check out a conference near you (ahem, MACUL) and register!

Courageous Edventures book by Jennie MagieraFor more ideas like these, check out my book, Courageous Edventures!


Jennie Magiera (@MsMagiera): She is the Chief Technology Officer for Des Plaines School District 62, a White House Champion for Change, Apple Distinguished Educator, Google for Education Certified Innovator and TEDx Speaker.

Ms. Magiera is also a 2017 MACUL Conference Keynote Speaker.

Learn more about her work and her book at bit.ly/magierabook.