New year, new goals, new priorities for this EdTechChic ... reduce anxiety, build relationships, self reflect. Are you in?! :)

For the first time in as many years as I can remember, I did not work over the break.  Not at all.  Not even responding to emails on my phone.  Nada.  I was just a mommy.  I played with my kids.  I did domestic duties.  I cooked and traveled and enjoyed the holidays with my family.  It.  Was.  Amazing.

So when I returned to work yesterday, I was thrilled that I got to ease back into work by attending a wonderful 1/2 day of professional development with Karen Bowles from the Flippen Group.  She spent the morning talking about anxiety, leadership and building relationships.  Much of the discussion centered around this premise...
Increased anxiety leads to decreased cooperation and performance, which in turn leads to increased discipline issues.
WOW!  Talk about get to the heart of the problem!  Anxiety is at the heart of most problems!!  And as Karen said, anxiety is NOT a "kid problem."  We have all felt anxiety and anxiety doesn't have to be "true" for it to be real.

The #1 job as leaders, whether you lead children or adults, is to reduce anxiety so we can increase cooperation and performance.  So what causes social anxiety?!  According to Karen...
Fear + motivation = social anxiety
That makes sense.  Karen pointed out that people are hardwired to want success.  Combine that with the need for acceptance and you've got the perfect storm.   So what can we do, as leaders, to help reduce anxiety?

  • Help your students (and/or teachers) feel safe both with you and with their peer group.
  • Focus on building relationships (and trust!) before you try to do anything else.
  • Make a good first impression ... you only have 30 seconds to do that!
  • Start each interaction with a smile, a firm handshake and good eye contact.
  • Be aware of your body language, tone of voice and the language you use.
  • Try to maintain a positive energy level.
As Karen pointed out, many times students (and sometimes adults, too!) would rather "behave out" of a situation than deal with the fear and anxiety inside of that situation.  People have baggage and although it's not our job to try and solve all of their issues, many times just showing that we care can be enough.

So how does this tie in with my goals for the new year?!

Karen had us do an exercise to rate ourselves on our body language, tone and spoken language.  I realized I rated myself pretty fairly in those 3 areas in relation to how I behave at work.  However, when I rated myself for home, my numbers were lower.  I realize that I am much more patient and understanding with my colleagues than I am with my family!  (Ummm...not ok!)  Karen told us to focus on improving relations within our family FIRST and this will naturally spill over into our work life.  Excellent advice and what I needed to hear!

In 2015, I am going to work hard to keep my priorities in line.  My kids come first.  Period.  And my husband is a really close second.  :)  My main concern in 2015 is going to be keeping my home happy and healthy and slowing down to appreciate my small children who are growing WAY too fast!  In addition, I am going {TRY} to STOP MULTITASKING, whether it's at home or when there is someone in my office.  It's rude and I do it way too often.  If I am going to build relationships and trust, then I have to STOP what I am doing and give my family or the person in my office my full attention.  This is going to be hard, but I think it's worth it.  I am also going to pay more attention to what I say and how I say it, especially at home.  Words and tone of voice can do damage and I need to remember that always.

I hope those of you who see me often will help me stay accountable.  Feedback is an important part of the process and I am open to yours.  What are your goals and priorities for 2015?  Cheers to a wonderful new year full of growth and opportunity!