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  • Pam Koutrakos

Kickin’ It Old School

See if this list matches your worry list about kids and people in general:

They don’t….

  • Spend time being “present”

  • Talk to each other

  • Sustain their attention

  • Show an awareness and acceptance of different perspectives

  • Express genuine empathy

  • and that they DO… spend more time on technology than with people

And now it’s time for me to fess up. As recently as last week, when colleagues and friends aired these sky-is-falling concerns, I was the one vehemently countering that I do not agree. In my righteous response, I acknowledged certain societal shifts and some of the obvious downsides of reality TV and social media, but still had a hard time accepting some of these troubling notions.

Then, it happened: I was drafting a mentor text essay to use with students on the importance of being an active and present listener. I was hyper-focused on crafting my essay about listening when I was interrupted by my son questioning, “Mom? Are you even listening to me?” Talk about a humbling moment of clarity! As a parent of a middle schooler, I try to savor every moment my son decides to spend with me, and yet here I was, typing away while my son was sharing something sincerely important to him. My mind flashed to the worries shared by countless friends and colleagues, the ones I so vehemently denied, and I instantly realized that I needed to admit to some not so positive changes in my own personal and professional life. In an attempt to name it, accept it, and get ready to rectify it, here goes:

I tend to work day and night more often than not.

There are (too many) times when my phone makes it to the dinner table.

I have my work email on my phone and check it throughout the day— everyday.

The first thing I do each morning is scroll through work emails and read a few blogs recently shared on Twitter.

I have secretly hoped that my friends will “hang in there” with our friendship even though we text more than talking and laughing in person.

I have multiple exceptionally well-organized Google Drive accounts: folders within folders within folders.

With these admissions, I intend to start kickin’ it “old school” style in 2018. Here’s my plan:

  • 2 days a week: no working after 6 PM.

  • Family charging station in the living room: no devices at the table, next to the bed, or on the bathroom counter while showering. It can wait.

  • I am going to call people. In the spirit of this transition, I also might make some of those phone calls from the landline I still have at home!

  • I am going to write cards and letters and send them in the mail. I used to LOVE cards. I am bringing this practice back hard in 2018.

  • I will use a hybrid approach to tracking my learning and observations. My “hard copy” learning notebooks and conferring notebooks are about to make a reappearance. There is something about jotting my professional learning “a-ha’s” and record keeping notes in a notebook that I genuinely miss!

  • I will continue to support my beloved, local bookstore and read actual books! No Audible for me- I prefer singing in the car and the smell, feel, and weight of a book in my hands.

I am not traditionally one for resolutions. However, I seem to live in a constant, ongoing state of reflection. I also enjoy working towards and exceeding personal goals. Perhaps it is only a matter of lingo and there is no real difference. Regardless, reflecting and goal setting can happen whenever and I am ready to start working towards these goals today. I am not waiting for January 1. What are you going to make happen in the months ahead?

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