2018: A Year of Contrasts

Well I started this blog with real intentions of writing regularly and…. I didn’t do it. I couldn’t find time (or if I had time—the energy) and actually don’t feel horrible about it because I have had the best start to a school year in my eleven year career, have made considerable growth in my practice, and the future looks brighter than ever before.

While I don’t feel horrible about not blogging over the last four months it is my goal for 2019 to blog at least once a week—and I hope that whomever reads this will help keep me accountable…. I am setting a Monday by 7pm intention for a weekly blog post.

So this entry is a reflection on 2018…. the year could not have bigger contrasts between the first six months and the last six months—the first half was the darkest period of my professional career and the last half has been the brightest.

The first six months were so bad that I don’t want to go into tons of detail because I don’t want to relive it or give it that power.

In short, I was entrenched in a level of negativity that I would not wish on my worst enemy. As someone who generally kept a positive outlook/mentality (but was always my own worst critic) I was so bombarded with negativity that it broke my spirit, caused me to question my worth, and pushed me to a point where I packed all my “essentials” in a box (I was a floater) and sat at my desk contemplating walking away from teaching forever. I was that beaten down and, while it is hard for me to share that, I keep thinking how my experience might help someone else overcome something similar.

I obviously didn’t walk away….but I cant say some epiphany came to me because it didn’t.

Teaching had been my passion and calling since working a basketball camp the summer before my Junior year of High School. I decided that I would try to ignore the negativity as much as possible—even if doing so cost me in the long run—and just do my best each day moving forward. If 2018-2019 (my tenure year) was going to be the last year teaching, it was going to be the real authentic me….  if I was going to go out it was going to be me, not me trying to fit into someone else’s “box”. That my positives as a teacher grossly outweigh my negatives (which I have ALWAYS worked to improve).

That was the end of May/early June…. and the mindset shift from dwelling on the negativity to a decision to block it out and just be my real self has led to the best six months in my professional career.

The last six months of 2018 can be defined by one word:


Its daunting to try and put it in words without writing a full on book but a lot of it started with picking up Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess on a whim. It validated some of the things I already did and has served as inspiration for further growth.

It led to discovering what I call  “The DBC_EDUversea group of amazing educators/authors and the educators their collective works have helped unite via Twitter. It is a collective of professional educators that some call a PLN (Professional Learning Network) but, as Tara Martin calls it, is more like a PLF (Professional Learning Family) because its that level of support for one another.

The DBC EDUverse has had a transformative impact on my educational practice over the last four months—through books and Twitter Chats.

Teach Like a Pirate and Explore Like A Pirate literally go almost everywhere with me  and they might eventually start to fall apart they are used so much.

I use #TLAP to plan my units and lessons and I have “leveled up” my classroom gamification from a inter-class competition to a full on game called “The Quest” using #XPLAP ….and its impact on student engagement is tenfold what I anticipated.

Be REAL by Tara Martin guides my thinking daily and has positively impacted my practice/interactions with students. You can see ideas/concepts from Shift This by Joy Kirr when you walk into my class and I am constantly adding things I learn from educators in this extensive PLF.

The last six months of 2018 have been a period of immense growth, making connections, finding my “tribe” and sharing my practice with like minded people. It is amazing that I went from feeling like I should just walk away to truly living out my “why”:

“To empower others through positivity”.

If you told me in May 2018 that by December 2018 I would have a book publisher addiction, a Twitter presence, a blog, would take the lead in a district PD, and/or have been on a educational podcast that I regularly listen to (Well PlayED with Michael Matera)—I wouldn’t have believed even one of those would happen, let alone ALL of them.

So if that dark first half of 2018 was necessary for the rebirth that followed it—

kind of like a Phoenix rising out of the ashes

….it may have been worth it.

Never underestimate the power of your thoughts and remember that:

“Every day you wake up is a good day”

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Joy Kirr says:

    Rich, I wasn’t aware of the start of you year. I am SOOO glad you were able to regroup and reconnect and rejoin the forces that are trying to make this world a better place. And please, please, please keep sharing that “everyday you wake up is a good day” – I’m truly a believer in that. My #OneWord for the past few years has been “gratitude.” Whether you write those blog posts or not (you may miss a few, as life gets in the way), you will be grateful for the ABILITY to write them and share your ideas or thoughts with the world. Thank you for sharing this one that I can wake up to in this new year. Here’s to a happy, healthy 2019!!

    Liked by 1 person

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