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In this episode, we are back and sharing our reflections and goals for the new year. We will talk about some personal and professional goals for the year. Happy New Year!

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Bitmoji of Rachel and Katie. There are fireworks in the background, and the fireworks also form the words "HAPPY NEW YEAR"

Show Notes

This week, we thought we would start off the new year by sharing some thoughts and reflections about the past year, and how we hope to move forward in this new year. We will talk about things that went well, as well as some of the things that didn’t go so well this past year. And then we will discuss some of our personal and professional goals for 2022.

End of Year Reflections

The year 2021 was such a year. There was a lot of virtual teaching and learning that occurred this past year, and it has led to a few key observations or reflections.

Work-Life Balance

Bitmoji of Katie and Rachel sitting and meditating with their eyes closed.

One observation was that the work-life balance while teaching remotely was so much better than when we were in-person. For many educators, we have become so accustomed to working wherever and whenever, so the shift to virtual and working from home allowed many of us to pause, catch our breath, and really experience some personal life balance for the first time in a long while.

With this new balance, we were able to do more for ourselves and to really focus on what we need for ourselves. Once we returned to in-person, that balance was lost! We aren’t sure if it was because of extracurriculars, commute, stress of covid and being in-person again, or what, but it became so much more difficult to maintain that balance.

Trying to think back to how the year even began, it is hard to believe that it was just one year, or 365 days – it has felt like such a long year. We began the year with a few weeks of virtual learning, and then we were back to the hybrid quadmester model for a while. March break was pushed into April, and then after April, we remained virtual for the rest of the school year. It all feels so far away.

Balance Versus Relationships

Working from home certainly allowed for more balance, however it did make collaboration and coaching much more difficult. The return to fully in-person learning this school year has provided far more opportunities to work with other teachers or program areas, and to build stronger relationships among staff.

The in-person learning that began this fall has also allowed for much stronger student-teacher relationships in the classroom as well. Being virtual, many students opted to keep their cameras off, so the normal classroom dynamics, conversations, etc. were not the same in the first half of 2021.

While there are lots of positives that have occurred in this new school year, it still raises a lot of questions about the importance of having and maintaining a balance between one’s professional life and personal life, and why it is such a difficult feat for many educators (and other professionals).

This year has really stressed the importance of finding that balance, and has really given us a glimpse into how good it feels to have that balance in our lives.

Bitmoji of Katie and Rachel. Katie has pompoms, and Rachel has a loudspeaker that says "Go Team"

One possible reason for this shift away from balance could be due to how much more accessible we are when we are in-person. While at home, everyone was quite isolated, mostly interacting with just their students, or virtually with staff as needed. Having everyone back in the building, we are all able to communicate freely with one another, sharing ideas in a more natural environment, and seeking out colleagues with questions, concerns, etc.

It’s a bit of a catch 22 when you think about it. The connections that occur as a result of being in a building are so authentic and important, but it comes at the cost of having that work-life balance that leads to less stress, and a more positive personal life. There needs to be a better balance versus the all-or-nothing that existed this past year when going between virtual and in-person.

It’s also difficult as an introvert, (and if you’re an introvert you know what we are talking about), because the interactions and social aspect can be very draining when we are in-person. That being said, we actually do love the social aspect and all of the interactions that occur in a school building – it just takes a lot out of us by the end of the day.

Relationships are Important

This year has really shown Rachel how important relationships and empathy are, particularly in her position as a coach. This year has really changed who she is and how she approaches her work.

Educators are not in the same space as they were before covid and the mayhem that has ensued, so approaching people and recognizing the need to meet others where they are at, and to have empathy is such an important aspect of a coach’s job, and also the job of a teacher.

Highlighting Education Issues

Bitmoji of Rachel and Katie; they have frightened looks on their faces; text above their heads "UH OH"

Another observation that we have from 2021 is the fact that this year has really highlighted a lot of issues that exist in education. The constant shifting in learning/teaching models as a result of the pandemic have really shifted the way that we think about education, causing us to recognize and try to fix these issues.

For example, our observations have led us to much our learning around Modern Classrooms Project and mastery-based learning, ungrading and traditional grading practices, as well as much of the learning we have done with equity.

This year has really made us grow so much as educators, to a point where our classrooms will never be the same, even once this pandemic is over. This year has really stressed the importance of meeting students where they are at, and that we need to embrace our students and get to know who they are and what they know so that we can more effectively teach every single one of our students.

Rachel is currently reading a book called “Grading for Equity” by Joe Feldman. The book goes into grading and how it really is not an equitable practice, and how we can shift our practices to be more equitable.

Katie has actually just ordered a book called “Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education” by Alex Shevrin Venet. She has chosen this resource for a variety of reasons – firstly because many of her students have experienced different forms of trauma, but also because it examines how we have traditionally used trauma as a label for specific students, when really we should be shifting our practice and using trauma as a lens to help inform our practice and how we teach all students, not just those that we know have been impacted by trauma. In doing so, we don’t cause or trigger further trauma, and we can shift away from the mentalities or attitudes that exist about “saving” students.

Covid has really affected most, if not all, of our students and their families in many different ways. Arguably, this has been a form of trauma; between mental health, constantly elevated stress levels, and the struggle to learn in an online, hybrid, or even just a scary covid school experience, this has not been an easy year.

We also need to take a moment as adults and educators and recognize that we, too, may have experienced trauma. This year has felt different for every single person, and we need to recognize that not everyone has dealt with it or experienced it in the same way. Give people space to feel however they feel, and don’t make quick judgments based on your own individual experience.

Our Goals for 2022

Now that we have shared some of our reflections or observations from 2021, we are going to share some of our goals for the year. It’s funny because we don’t particularly enjoy new years resolutions, so the idea of sharing some of our goals is a little funny.

There was a post on Twitter recently about how setting new years resolutions are great, we need to put more focus on the follow through and revisiting these goals over time, because some of these goals or resolutions are going to take longer than one single year.

Work-Life Balance

This year, one of our big focuses will be on finding a better balance between the “busy” professional life and our personal lives. It will be busier than when we are fully virtual, but we need to find a way to rein it in a bit so that we can find a better, and more healthy, balance between work and home – we need to find that middle ground!

Implement Mastery-based Structures

Whether it be in the classroom, or as a form of professional learning, we both hope to implement mastery-based structures.

Katie is hoping to continue to develop the resources, and then implement a mastery-based program for English language learners beginning in September. This is definitely going to be a multi-year goal, as it will take a lot of time and practice to figure out what works, what doesn’t, etc.

Rachel is hoping to implement mastery-based professional learning. She has started to play with some structures and to build some resources, but she wants to continue this journey, see how far she can go with it, and how it meets the needs of educators.

Rachel just finished reading the resource “Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics” by Peter Liljedahl. It is an awesome book that is good for more than just the math classroom. It really helps to give you a better idea as to what a thinking classroom is, and what it looks like.

Leadership Skills

We all have different ways of leading. One of the ways that Katie leads is through relationships, empathy and emotions in general. One of her goals is to try to grow a thicker skin, and protect herself a little bit better. It is exhausting and can cause a lot of harm – it’s important to protect ourselves while leading.

It can also be quite hard to hide one’s emotions – and sometimes it would be nice to not have one’s emotions show up so quickly or easily. While emotions are certainly an important trait, it would be nice to have a better balance.


Meditation is a great way to help refocus and bring more calm to one’s life. It would be great to be able to meditate more regularly, to find ways to de-stress and find a sense of calm, etc. So, we are going to try to pick this up more regularly this year – and it could really help with our goals of finding more work-life balance. If you’re an educator, you should look into Headspace, as we believe that there is a way to get a free education account so that you can also then use this with your students!

This year has been particularly stressful, so meditation can be a great way to cope with stress and let us let go of things a little bit more.

We also need to recognize that some people may lash out because they are dealing with their own stressors.

The television show, “Ted Lasso” has this great saying: be a goldfish. It’s a great reminder to learn how to forget about some things and just move forward – it isn’t worth stressing over things. Here are some other great lessons or advice that we found on Twitter:

Personal Goals

Not all of our goals are professional in nature. It’s important to acknowledge more than just professional goals.

Some of our goals:

  • Take the weekends and focus on things that we love – our own learning, such as courses, music, coding, secret courses, etc.
  • Spend time with family – play with our kiddos, camping

Our EduGals Goals

We have had such an amazing and fun journey with our EduGals podcast. Here are some of our goals:

  • Continue the slow growth!
    • Our 100th episode is coming up this year!
  • Share more on our blog, webinars, conferences, articles, etc.
  • Follow through with blogging – go for done, not perfect!
  • Embrace the self-promotion on social media and with our colleagues (and even our buy us a coffee page)
  • Continue talking about our “creative non-compliance”
Bitmoji of Rachel and Katie. Rachel is holding gold balloons that form 2022. Katie is celebrating and blowing a noisemaker. Text: Happy 2022

Feel free to let us know what your goals are for this coming year – and remember, they don’t have to be one year goals! Think about what meaningful changes you want to make, and how you can move forward professionally and/or personally this year. Happy New Year – we wish you good health and happiness!

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