Sunday, January 1, 2017

One Word 2017: Patience

Happy New Year!

True to all the resolution-making and reflection that happens at this time of year, I've been giving thought to what my #oneword2017 focus will be for this calendar year.

In 2015, my one word was JumpThis time last year, my one word was Reflection.

For 2017, my one word will be PATIENCE.

In the classroom, there are a lot of new and innovative things you can try and usually see results - of one kind or another - very quickly. Even if you're doing larger projects or trying bigger things that take months to implement, you can get a sense pretty quickly of how things are going.

In my current position as a co-ordinator, a lot of what I do is behind the scenes. I'm no longer the one interacting with the students, trying out the new ideas, or monitoring how things are going. I'm much more of a facilitator: more learning, assisting, and guiding, and less direct implementation.

Because of this, I would like to focus on patience:

  • Patience with my own learning: I'm doing a LOT of new learning when it comes to the collaborative inquiry process, special education, instructional strategies in math, and the transition from grade 8 to grade 9. Learning, and the reflection/digestion process that accompanies it, takes time. I'm not going to become well-versed in all of these overnight - I have to recognize that to learn well and deeply takes time.

  • Patience when implementing change: This school year, we experienced a LOT of change within our school board. I'm directly involved with changing co-ordinator-led professional development (sage on the stage) to collaborative inquiry-based learning (guide on the side). This is a new model for all of us, and we have to remember that though implementation may not go smoothly in the beginning, we'll learn from our school teams to improve the process over time.

  • Patience when working with others: It's been so great getting out and working with teachers throughout the board - I'm fascinated with the different viewpoints and backgrounds I encounter. In order to meet everyone's needs, I need to be patient, not make assumptions (or jump to conclusions), and really listen to those I work with. Not everyone will approach things the same way I would, which is an asset to how the teams work, but I have to remember to step back and appreciate the different perspectives.

  • Patience with filling in the big picture: A lot of what we're working on as board co-ordinators are long-range goals - small cogs in an overall machine that could have huge impacts over time. I have to keep this big picture in mind and remember that even though one particular project may not feel all that earth-shattering or impactful, together with all the other initiatives, we're crafting powerful models of learning and addressing student needs.

What is your #oneword2017 focus for this year?


  1. An appropriate word choice for the work you're doing this year, Heather. I hope that your Board also has patience with the work. It does take time for individuals and teams to do the learning, develop the plan, implement the plan, and monitor for feedback. Many Boards use a three year cycle and then rotate people, but in my conversations with coaches from around the world, there is strong consensus that three years is not long enough.

    Consider Marzano's "It's How You Use A Strategy" in which he describes the four levels of strategies' implementation. He is using 'teacher' here, but we can I think insert instructional coach, facilitator, etc. He is saying that in order to achieve gains in student (teacher) learning, the teacher (coach) needs to be able to use the strategy at the application level. The question for me is how long does it take for one to reach the application level? The answer, I suspect, is it varies depending on lots of factors. However, since as newcomers to the role, there is so much learning and designing to do, we need sufficient time. Without that time, we may only ever achieve the developing level and not realize large gains in student (teacher) learning.

    Here's the article.

  2. Great word, especially for your new role. It can be tough to keep in mind that learning (yours and others) takes time. I think my word for the year would be reflection, as I think that would help me keep focused in my teaching and classroom management strategies. In my 2016 reflection on my first few months of teaching (, much of it can be summed up with "lack of focus". The article that Julie linked to may be relevant to my struggles as well.

    Can't wait to see what your role and 2017 has in store for you!


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