Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Compelled Educator: My 3 Words for 2020

My 3 words for 2020 by @Jennifer_Hogan #my3words

Reflection is such an important part of the learning process. There was a time in my life when I was all about speed and moving forward... getting to the next thing... checking it off... completing the next task. 

As I've gotten older and wiser, I've learned to focus on the balance of slowing down to go faster. I make it a priority to make time to reflect on what's been learned or how a skill was executed and what needs to be learned to be and do better.

December is a natural time for reflection for many of us. We reflect on our outgoing year as we plan for the new one. We ask ourselves: How did it go? How did I do? What did I learn and what do I need to learn? What do I need to do less of and what do I need to do more of? 

Each year since 2014, as I reflect I decide on three words to guide me through the next year. This is a practice I learned from Chris Brogan, and one that has proven to be beneficial to me both personally and professionally. 

Here's what Chris writes about choosing your three words:
Choose any three words you feel will guide you forward. I can tell you a few things about this:
  • Don’t make it a phrase. “Publish the book” is a terrible choice. “The” is wasted.
  • Try to make the words actionable. “Expand” is better than “bigger.”
  • The more utilitarian the word can be, the better. These words have to be your compass.
  • Stick with the 3 words all year. Every time I’ve changed one a month or two later, the year mucks up. I can’t explain it. But I can report it.
  • Years where I’ve tried “fancy” words with layers of meaning, I lost the thread. Use plain words, maybe.
  • BUT the words don’t have to mean anything to anyone but you. Don’t worry about explaining them.

My 3 words for 2019 were Practice, Execute, and Be

Practice is about doing the daily work and getting better at something, while Execute is about facing fears and "pushing the button." Both words were important to me in 2019, but the one that I am most pleased with is how I used Be to guide me throughout the year. 

From my blog post about Be:
It's about letting go of the need to achieve and filling the space with acceptance.  
It's about embracing peace and being fully present for myself and others.  
It's about having faith and love and knowing that I am who I am and that I am enough. 

There was a lot that I said "no" to in 2019, and in doing so I was able to say "yes" to other things. This was a huge lesson for me, and one that I will take into the new year and the rest of my life. At times, it was extremely hard, because my nature is to go-go-go and be action driven. While it may seem like a year of unproductivity (is that a word?), it was a year of inner work that I needed to do in order to go forward with strength, joy, and resolve.

"I'm learning to love the sound of my feet walking away from things that were not meant for me."  - Anonymous

As I reflect on the year I ask myself, "What has had the greatest impact and how can I do more to amplify that?" My mission is to encourage and empower others along their journeys, and I'm excited to do more of that in 2020. I've chosen three words as my guideposts for the year, and I'm excited to share them with you.

My 3 words for 2020 by @Jennifer_Hogan #my3words

In April of 2018, I turned 50 years old. I was feeling old, soft, and not at all like the college athlete I once was. I bought myself a birthday present; it was a diet template from RP Strength. I had seen the amazing transformations on Instagram and wanted to give it a shot. 

On the Monday after turning 50, I started the diet template and I followed it for 4 months and lost 15 pounds. It wasn't the weight loss that was my greatest accomplishment. The battle that was won was a mental one. It was sticking with something and seeing it through, even when it was challenging and emotionally draining. 

Once school started, I got off the diet plan a bit and working out got less consistent. Now here we are about a year later and I'm ready for a new challenge. On January 6, I'm going to start the #75hard challenge. It will require great consistency to complete it. 

Andy Frisella 75 Hard #75hard #75hardchallenge

For the challenge, you have to do 75 days straight. If you miss a day, cheat on a day, or don't fulfill the parameters of the challenge, you have to start over. I'm ready for a mental challenge that will also challenge me physically, and I'm planning to journal during the challenge so that I can reflect on my journey after the fact. 

You can check out Andy Frisella on Twitter or Instagram, and check out the hashtag #75hard on both social media channels. 

If you're doing this challenge already or want to start on January 6th with me, I would love to have the accountability partners! 

My 3 words for 2020 by @Jennifer_Hogan #my3words

The second word I've chosen for 2020 is Empower. As I reflected on 2019 and thought about what impact I want to have in 2020, my commitment is to be very intentional about my mission to empower others.  

How do I define "empowering others"? I want to help other people believe in themselves by encouraging and equipping them with what they need to be successful. I want to see potential in others, find the gap, and help them acquire what they need to reach their potential. By empowering others, I will give them an opportunity to lead and help them to advance. 

1. Those closest to us - family and friends
2. Those we work with - bosses, employees, and colleagues
3. Those we interact with in our daily lives - bankers, people in stores, stakeholders, and others 

I don't want to overlook any opportunity to make a person feel validated and important, and I will create opportunities to share my wisdom (from mistakes I've made and lessons I've learned) and help others to uncover their awesomeness. 

My 3 words for 2020 by @Jennifer_Hogan #my3words

The third word for 2020 is one that I've been working on for most of my adulthood. :-) Growing up, my parents didn't talk to us about money. In fact, I still don't know very much about investing and I'm just learning how to really BUDGET my money. While I've never been person to spend extravagantly or on luxury items, I'm in a place where I want to save as much money as possible for investments, emergencies, and retirement. 

I've been reading and following bloggers for a long time who write about frugal living and ways to create and stretch a budget. It's almost like a game I want to win or a treasure hunt to be solved, and I'm finding ways to decrease spending and increase income. I've been more like the person on the bench, though, enjoying the close-up view of the game, and now I'm ready to get IN the game. (Put me in coach!) I also recognize that my focus for 2020 on CONSISTENT will also be valuable in making budgeting successful in the new year!

I've been a fan of Dave Ramsey for a long time, but I could never make his envelope system work. Starting last week, I finally used the envelope system for groceries, and I plan to continue into the new year. Jordan Page is another person I learn from, and she explains her envelope system here. (Have you ever tried the envelope system?) 

I also found out about an awesome app called Ibotta. It's like having digital coupons on your phone. It's easy to use - you simply take a picture of your receipt after shopping and you get credit for the amount of the coupon. Once you reach $20, you can transfer the money into your PayPal account or redeem as gift cards. I use it every time I shop, and if you would like to try it you can use my referral code, FTNDMAB, or click HERE to sign up. 

I rarely clip coupons anymore (unless they're digital and matched on Southern Savers), but using the app and knowing exactly how much I'm saving allows me to put it away for the goals I've set for the year. 

If you have any suggestions on making a budget work, I would love to hear them! 

I hope these words have inspired you to create and share your own words for 2020. If so, please share them in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook

Past #My3Words Choices

2014 - Discipline. Intentional. Balance.

2015 - Rhythm. Bravery. Fitness.

2016 - Focus. Purpose. Do.

2017 - Pivot. Go. Grow.

2018 - Lift. Create. Relentless

2019 - Practice. Execute. Be.

My 3 words for 2020 by @Jennifer_Hogan #my3words

Monday, December 30, 2019

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2019 from The Compelled Educator


I always love doing a recap of the year on this blog.

I know many people don't like to look at data and numbers, but I'm a "science person," and I like charts and figures and numbers. 

So when the end of the calendar year approaches and I review the numbers for the posts from the year, I get a little giddy, even when I know that this post is usually one of the least favorite from the year. :-)

Without further ado... here are links to readers' favorite posts from 2019 along with excerpts from each post. 

10. Non-negotiables for schools - is JOY one of them?
A blog post by @Jennifer_Hogan at TheCompelledEducator.com #CompelledED
So recently while at a state leadership conference, I attended a session led by Carla Tantillo Philbert (@_coolclassroom) called "Strengthening Staff and Student Relationships via Social-Emotional Learning and Mindfulness."  I'm always looking for new ideas on how to increase my and other's abilities to connect with students. 

In the session, she talked about the non-negotiables at her school. She called them the no matter whats

At her school, it was a non-negotiable that adults wouldn't use eye rolls and that adults wouldn't say, "Shut up." While I think we can all agree that these are great reminders and that they shouldn't be used in a school, it got me to thinking about unwritten rules that we have for school staffs. At her school, it was known, it was discussed, and it was stated out loud. 

A blog post by @Jennifer_Hogan at TheCompelledEducator.com #CompelledED

More and more kids come to school with struggles - whether family dysfunction, hunger, mental health issues, stress, poverty, our some other unmet needs - and sometimes we as educators want to shoulder the burden for our students. It can be a heavy burden to bear, especially when we feel as we can't make a difference in a child's situation. 

I reminded our teachers that as we wrap up the holidays, it's important for them to take care of themselves, too. That means setting healthy boundaries, getting enough rest, making healthy food choices, exercising, saying no sometimes, and anything else that they know will help them to take care of themselves.

A blog post by @Jennifer_Hogan at TheCompelledEducator.com #CompelledED
When you apologize, you are opening the door to rebuild trust with another person. You are creating an opportunity for dialogue about restoration, and you are creating an opportunity to make amends. 

7. Leadership Lessons from Brene Brown

Leadership lessons from Brene Brown at TheCompelledEducator.com #CompelledED
While it can be very hard to do, it's important for leaders to connect with our own emotions as well as the emotions of those we lead. Brene describes Armored Leadership vs Daring Leadership, which consists of dichotomies such as "Being a knower and being right vs. Being a learner and getting it right" and "Rewarding exhaustion as a status symbol and attaching productivity to self-worth vs Modeling rest, play, and recovery."  

While fear will always be present when we rumble with vulnerability, our response to fear will determine our success as a leader.

A blog post by @Jennifer_Hogan at TheCompelledEducator.com #CompelledED
When my husband first started driving his Jeep, he noticed that other drivers would wave or lift a couple of fingers as they passed him. He looked it up online and found that it’s a “thing” for drivers in jeeps to acknowledge each other when they pass on the road. He also found forums and thriving community devoted to Jeep owners. He was excited to be a part of this new group, and he always looks for other Jeeps on the road so that he can acknowledge them.

His reaction was a reminder to me that people want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. As educators, it’s important for us to create an environment where students and staff feel connected, important, and valued. 

A blog post by @Jennifer_Hogan at TheCompelledEducator.com #CompelledED
I worked with a team of experienced teachers to create a new teacher orientation experience that would allow our new teachers to get to know each other, get to know me, and walk away with practical knowledge that they would need to have a smooth start to the school year. 

One of my favorite events this year was our "New Teacher Signing Day."

A blog post by @Jennifer_Hogan at TheCompelledEducator.com #CompelledED
You had to make 10 decisions before lunch, then after lunch you had 15 more to make before dinner. 

Have you been there? 

Educators frequently experience decision fatigue. There are literally hundreds of decisions that are made during a week, and decision fatigue is a real thing.

A blog post by @Jennifer_Hogan at TheCompelledEducator.com #CompelledED
Each morning, set your intention to THRIVE that day. It may seem harder than just surviving, and it may push you out of your comfort zone. If you are ready for a change, it will be "hard thing" that you will appreciate. Just remember to take it day by day, and even hour by hour. If you need help, feel free to reach out to me via Voxer or Twitter. 

A blog post by @Jennifer_Hogan at TheCompelledEducator.com #CompelledED
It can be a challenge to make time, but it's not impossible. Some days will be better than others, and some days it may be a simple gesture of sticking your head in a teacher's classroom to ask, "Need anything?" 

I'm sharing 5 hacks for school leaders to use to get out of the office and into classrooms, hallways, lunchrooms, and other areas of the school.

A blog post by @Jennifer_Hogan at TheCompelledEducator.com #CompelledED
As we head into 2019, I intentionally choose 3 words each year to serve as guideposts throughout the year. (It's a practice I started in 2014, after learning about it from Chris Brogan.) 

The words help keep me "in my lane" and focused on the goals I want to achieve during the year. 

Does that mean I'm perfectly focused? Not by a long shot.

Did you have a favorite post from 2019? Feel free to leave me a comment or connect on twitter (@Jennifer_Hogan).

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Friday, December 6, 2019

How to say no politely

December can be a hard month for educators for many reasons. The semester is wrapping up and teachers feel the crunch of ensuring that they taught all standards and kept up with the state, district, and/or school curriculum. 

Also, it's a time that many emotions come to the surface for students and adults alike. Joy and hope are experienced by many, but it's also important to remember that there are some who feel great loss and helplessness around the holiday time. 

In a meeting recently with teachers who are new to our school this year, we had some great discussions about pedagogy, technology, positive relationships with students, and the future of school. 

In the meetings, I reminded our new teachers that being an educator is the hardest and best job in the world. 

More and more kids come to school with struggles - whether family dysfunction, hunger, mental health issues, stress, poverty, our some other unmet needs - and sometimes we as educators want to shoulder the burden for our students. It can be a heavy burden to bear, especially when we feel as we can't make a difference in a child's situation. 

I reminded our teachers that as we wrap up the holidays, it's important for them to take care of themselves, too. That means setting healthy boundaries, getting enough rest, making healthy food choices, exercising, saying no sometimes, and anything else that they know will help them to take care of themselves.

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How to say no

In our quarterly new teacher meetings, I try to model how to talk to students or explain how to use a classroom management strategy. Sometimes new teachers need to see and hear what a strategy will look like in action. 

While we're sitting around a table for these meetings and not in a classroom, I still want to make sure that our teachers are armed with the phrases that can be beneficial in their relationships with students and other staff members. 

In reflecting on our meeting, I realized that while I encouraged them to say no sometimes, I didn't provide a resource for them. Below you can see the graphic that I plan to send to them today. 

Is there a phrase that stands out to you or that you needed to read about today? Leave me a comment below or tag me on twitter, @Jennifer_Hogan. I would love to hear from you!