Savor the Moment Because Time Flies
by Chris Ouellette
Director of Learning Support, Emma Willard
Happy December to you! As we approach the end of another calendar year, I wanted to reach out while taking some time to reflect on what I am grateful for during this holiday season. This year has been full of peaks and valleys for sure. Commitment number two in the 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership centers on curiosity. It asks us to “commit to regarding every interaction as an opportunity to learn” and this has been a driving factor for my own personal growth this year. My gratitude list for 2023 is still growing, and here are three of the items on that list:
I was lucky enough to engage with some phenomenal professional development over this past year. I had the pleasure of attending multiple offerings from NAIS including the Equity Design Lab with Joe Feldman over the summer, as well as an offering from Leadership + Design focused on developing Badass Facilitators. As the educational landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace, continued learning is the only way to keep up. Seeking out opportunities for professional development does not need to rely on your school having a massive budget, there are plenty of free options out there, from webinars to articles to conversations with the experts within your building. Whatever avenue you pursue, the folx at L+D will encourage you to “go get your learning”.
This one seems like the easiest one for me. No matter the day, my students teach me something new. Oftentimes the lesson they teach has nothing to do with academics, yet always helps me to become a better educator. Our students bring to us hope for the future. They bring us a desire to learn and grow into the people who will shape the world going forward. These students bring a range of emotions that shape the world in which we engage, whether joy, frustration, or sadness. These students are thirsty for knowledge, and hungry for challenge, and frankly, who would we be if we denied them that? I believe that we all know this, and it is always worth saying again; building relationships with our students is vital to helping them reach all of their lofty goals. When we focus on these relationships first and foremost, we set up the spaces where students can simultaneously share their successes as well as lean into the discomfort from the areas where they have felt less than.
The NEALS group has been an indispensable source of strength and inspiration for me throughout the challenges of the past year. In the course of 2023, I've had the privilege of not only meeting, but also forging meaningful connections and rekindling old ones with numerous exceptional members. Whether in virtual spaces or in person, the time spent together has been a wellspring of support and camaraderie. This work has also allowed me the honor of stepping into the role of President and it continues to offer me the pleasure of working with an amazing team on the NEALS Board. Each team member brings dynamic experience and insight to the table, strengthening all of our conversations and our offerings. Collaborating with a team of thought partners really does make this volunteer work extraordinary.
As you engage with the reflection that is warranted at year’s end, I hope you are able to find the moments that keep you going in this field of specialized education. As you reflect, remember Tupac's wisdom: always “be grateful for blessings”.