There are so many things I like about working in education.

One of the many is the fresh start feeling teachers and students get throughout the year. The promise of new school supplies in late August says, “This is the year you will be organized! Look at the datebook and fresh notebooks! Yes, you are all about being organized this school year.” Next, the holidays arrive and I once again summon the strength to pursue a resolution. I vow, “This is the year I will make myself a priority and go to the gym after work 5 times a week!”

The end of the school year provides me another opportunity. It offers me the chance to reflect on the past school year and ask myself what I have learned from the experience. It offers me the opportunity to ask myself what I did right and what I did wrong and what I can do better for the coming year.

Play along with me if you will. Imagine I built a time machine and asked you to go back to the week before school started. What advice would you give yourself?

I have been pondering this exact question in my mind for the last week. I have challenged myself to be honest and direct, with, well…myself.

I would look at myself and say, “Be daring. Be bold. Fail big. Try harder. Don’t be afraid to be wrong. You will find your voice.”

This is exactly what I did this school year and I would have welcomed the slight push and encouragement to know that I was on the right path.

This year I tried many new things. I worked with a great group of women and we implemented many new approaches to professional development in our school. I am proud of the many small steps we have taken toward big change. It wasn’t easy. There were bumps along the way. In the end, we felt our voices were heard and and we shared equally in the success. I am proud of the work we did. I am proud of the student learning impacted from our hard work and the benefits that future students will receive.

This year I began blogging with regularity and made a professional connection with TeachThought. The regular blogging empowered deep reflection and learning for me. I can say blogging and TeachThought made me realize I have a voice and I was surprised and empowered when I realized others enjoyed reading my words.

This year I discovered my love of learning and have decided to continue my education. My professional journey is changing and even though it is scary, I am going to try something new next fall. I am scared to death, to be honest. I have asked myself for months, “If not now…when?” At what point do I decide to try something I have always wanted to do? The answer came to me this year when I heard my inner voice say, “Now!”

This year I read, “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. The commencement speech Ms. Sandberg gave at Barnard College in 2011 inspired her to write the book. The effect the book had on me was profound. I began to realize if I don’t “lean in” to myself, find my own path and embrace the passionate learning capabilities inside of me, I am doing a disservice not only to myself, but to my family, my co-workers and to my students.

Embrace that thing you love doing. Stop being ashamed of the energy and commitment you feel for it. Instead “lean in” to it and you will find others who respect and admire you for it.

And more importantly, you will respect and admire yourself for doing it.

The important thing for me is the advice I would have given myself last year is the same advice I will give myself next year. I need to continue to be daring. I need to continue to push myself to be bold. I can’t succeed without failing and trying harder. I can’t be right without being wrong sometimes. Lastly, I need to remember to be quiet and listen to myself and hear my own voice. I need to continue to speak up and contribute to the conversation. I need to respect my own voice as much as others.

I ask you, what advice would you give yourself if you took a trip in my time machine?

I hope you will share with me as we #learnbetter together @kaybisaillon

Featured image attribution flickr user celtkeene