Happy New Year! As educators, there always seem to be two new years for us, August/September and January. We often have renewed energy at the beginning of a school year and are filled with intentions to refresh, revitalize, and renew our professional practice. The same energy can also be felt as we flip the calendar from the past to embrace the possibilities of the future.
As I contemplated what to write about, I felt like whatever words I shared needed to feel auspicious and BIG and provide guidance as we continue to navigate turbulent waters. But, the more I thought about what I wanted to focus on in both my professional and my personal life, the more I once again realized it isn’t necessarily the BIG that matters to me right now. It continues to be the small, everyday moments that bring joy to us and those around us that we harness, embrace, and fuel through personal connection and relationship building. For often it’s the small that leads to the big.
I am truly hopeful that 2024 brings us all more joy and connection, and that is the energy I wanted to bring to the first blog post of this calendar year. As such, I am continuing to highlight my presidential focus of building relationships as they are key to the work we do and the people we serve.
As I was searching for an engaging way to carry this vibe throughout the next twelve months, I stumbled upon a revelation in a Facebook group I follow that looks at goal setting with lists of 23 for 2023, 22 for 2022, and so on (Based on the work of Gretchen Rubin). Did you know that there are 24 boxes on a BINGO card, not including the free space? As I thought about how I wanted to incorporate this into my personal life, I realized that this is the fabulous tool for embracing ideas about how to build relationships throughout the year.
So, I built a BINGO board in Canva (here’s the template) that you can customize to fit for your own situation, goals, or design preference.
You can use what I have here, or you can adjust and adapt to your needs. The goal is to make connections and build/strengthen relationships with those who can influence and impact your practice and your learners. I also left two open spots for you to add whatever fits best for you personally.
- Make some of these items things you know you will already do, so you can see progress even before you begin. A quick payoff or one you know is coming can keep the momentum going.
- Since there are 12 months in a year, you could aim to do 2 per month.
- Districts or state associations can customize this and distribute it to their school librarians/members.
- Pick a fun stamp to mark things off.
- Give yourself credit for each time you complete a task. Mark things off as many times as you do it. If you send more than one note, stamp/mark it each time.
- It’s ok to double dip. Maybe you contact a school board member to visit your library. That’s two in one!
- Leave a space blank to fill in later on in the year when a new idea comes to you that you want to include.
I felt some of these are simple to understand and some might require me to explain my thoughts a bit more:
- Attend an event where you can build connections with other school library professionals or people in the community you serve.
- Make an introduction by helping others make a connection with fellow librarians or educators.
- A board member could be a school or library board member in the district where you teach/live that you share something positive about school/public libraries with.
- Committees could be in your school/district or at the local, state, or national level.
- Posts could be on social media or ALA Connect.
- I chose the word “offer” instead of “give” professional development, because sometimes it takes multiple offers to gain the opportunity to give.
- New colleagues could be in your school, district, state, or another state and can be librarians or educators.
- Group texts/chats can be more private ways to send affirming messages, ask questions, share positive news, or send cute pet pics. (Cute pets always lift my spirits.)
This is all about YOU and what YOU can do to build relationships during 2024. Honestly, whatever you interpret a space to mean is perfectly fine. Any adjustments you make are valid. You can even change things mid-year! There’s no right or wrong way to do this. Make this work for YOU and hopefully have a little fun while doing it.
More than anything I hope this is an engaging way to think about building relationships. The goal is not to make this feel like work. This should not have dread-filled, reading log energy. This idea isn’t right for everyone, and that’s ok.
If you choose to do this, I would love to see what you come up with for your board! If this doesn’t feel right for you, and you come up with a different idea for setting relationship building goals, I’d love to hear that too!
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can tag me on Twitter (X) @aaslpresident
Happy 2024 to all, and I hope to connect with you either online or in person sometime in the near future!
Building Relationships with Student Advocates Webinar February 1st 6:00 PM CST bit.ly/AASLstudent
More blog post articles to help with your Building Relationships Goals:
Get more involved with AASL! It’s as easy as filling out the Get Involved Form.
Don’t just join your state’s school library association, get involved!
What I have learned many things about writing for professional publications.
(Update: School Library Connection and Teacher Librarian are no longer in print)
Ideas about how to celebrate, acknowledge, and advocate for the vital work we do all year long.
Author: Courtney Pentland, AASL President 2023-2024
Categories: Community/Teacher Collaboration