Four Things to be Relentless about in 2019

A year is a bit like a class session: You plan some things before it starts, but only in the thick of it do you see what you really need to do.

So, yes, I do have a classic resolution: to visit the dentist in 2019. (Don’t chortle through your splendent teeth—this is a serious stretch goal for me.) But there are four big themes on which I’m gaining clarity five weeks in. I list them here with minimal commentary:

1. Inclusion

Many areas that my work touches—pedagogy at levels PreK-∞, language learner materials, conference speaker lineups, academic publication, and more—have a dismal record for representation and inclusion. That simply can’t go on.

2. Reality

Practically no one’s actual situation is remotely close to ideal: curricular requirements issued from on high, tests students must take, time and funds a program or person doesn’t have—all these place a logistical and psychological strain on the people involved. I’m more focused than ever on helping people get the most from their time and efforts within those constraints, even as I labor to loosen them.

3. Collaboration

I was the kid who hated group work because it made everything take longer. I could roll with it because the outcome didn’t really matter. But education and equity and teachers’ and learners’ mental health are high-stakes issues requiring sustained work among people with complementary skills, temperaments, perspectives, and experiences.

4. Positivity

I’ve long had a mantra by which I remind myself to be relentlessly positive in tone and outlook, sometimes even repeating the phrase under my breath. This positivity is one of my most commented-on traits. (I’ve been happy to see the phrase used by others recently, too.) But attention to (1) and (2) above can make positivity really, really hard. Makes sense, given how painful the issues involved can be. Still, I want the manner in which I deal even with these things to be a positive one that makes it easier for myself and others to change.

Honorable Mention: Blogging

Easy, right?

Is there anything you want to be relentless about in 2019? Share it in the comments below, tweet it, tattoo it, skywrite it…I’d love to support you in the process!

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  1. Justin et al. (is that good Latin???) who may be reading this- My mantra for many years has been the single word “CONNECT”

    I just see so many ways / nuances / facets that this word can inspire.

    However, my current mantra is “BE PRESENT.”

    A friend and colleague of mine lost a dear friend, Adam, just recently at a way too young age. In that time of reflection in order to celebrate the life of Adam, my colleague mentioned admiring the fact that Adam was always PRESENT. Increasingly in our multi-tasking / technology-bombarded world the land of “BEING PRESENT” can be a welcome respite that does help us to connect with those that we have the opportunity to be with.

    As educators, already we have too many demands flying at us from all directions as you nodded to in your #2 of this above post. Makes it easy to be distracted and not fully present with our students on a day to day.

    However, when I completely allow myself to just BE with my students, I am in turn more aware, and the flow of language that is compelling and meaningful to what they want to talk about, is always more successful. My job then, is to be aware of making it comprehensible, and then… well, it seems too easy, right?
    Hard to trust, BUT, I will try to continue to pay homage to Adam’s life by repeating my mantra to myself every day: “BE PRESENT.”

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