The Halfway Point

I'm about halfway through this National Teacher of the Year journey, and although I'm not a fan of New Year's resolutions, this marks a good point for me to reflect on how it's been going.

I've visited 20 states and represented U.S. teachers in Ethiopia, Israel, and Palestine. I've published some articles and started this blog. I've given a lot of speeches (and even memorized a couple of them). I've talked about the urgency and the magic and the hard work of teaching, about race and educational equity, about social justice.

I've met incredible educators and future educators everywhere I've been. I've questioned whether I deserved any of it directly after giving a speech to a roomful of award-winning teachers telling them to stop questioning whether they deserve any of it.

I've been excited and confused and lonely and inspired. All of it.

It's been amazing.

When I got this chance, I told myself not to squander it. I knew that I had a year where people would listen to what I had to say about what's happening in our schools. So I set out to advocate for teachers and kids, even if it meant being uncomfortable in rooms full of people who were more powerful, better connected, older, or years more experienced than me.

I think I've done okay. I'm proud of what I've accomplished so far, but I know I can do more.

In the next half of my time as NTOY, I'm going to push myself to be bolder. I want to write more and be less afraid of what people will think. I want to stop just admiring teacher activists who are more outspoken than I am and actually work to be more like them. I want to say what I mean.

I've seen a lot of people pledging to live "one word" in 2018. (More here.)

I think, this year, my word will be brave.

Let's do this.

(January 2, 2018)

Sydney Chaffee