Last week we welcomed our first year teachers for “day zero”. It felt like the first day of school in every sense as the room buzzed with authentic excitement.

First days are one of the best parts about teaching.

There is nothing like a first day…AND  we get two “New Year’s”. We get to start fresh in August, and then again with the rest of the world in January.

As we set up our NEW teachers to start their NEW career, we led them through an activity that was inspired by Daniel Pink’s “Pinkcast”.


We asked them to momentarily set aside their traditional to-do list and in exchange focus on these three lists instead:

1. Your To-Do List: What legacy do you want to leave as an educator?

Beginning with the end in mind, at the start of a new career, a new school year, or a new unit of study…it is important to think about results.


  • What do you want to accomplish this year?
  • What are you working on in your own professional practice?
  • What outcomes do you want for your campus, your team, your classroom, your students?

2. Your To-Don’t List: What do you want to leave behind or do differently?

New Year’s resolutions often deal with habits we want to break in order to change the course of the year. With new teachers we prompted reflection about a time in their school career that wasn’t positive, or something they had seen but didn’t want to replicate in their practice, as they haven’t had the chance to make their own mistakes yet.

  • What do you commit to NOT doing?
  • What strategies, practices, or mindsets don’t have a place in your classroom or campus this year?
  • What mistakes have you seen others make, that you can avoid?

3. Your To-Done List: What have you accomplished that you need to CELEBRATE?!

It is easy to get so wrapped in reflection that focuses on change that we forget that many times the image you are seeing in the mirror is beautiful!! It is important that we don’t fall into a pattern of deficit thinking, about our students or ourselves!!



  • What have you achieved in your career?
  • What relationships have been successful?
  • What lesson or unit did you knock out of the park?
  • What have your students accomplished as a result of your influence?

This last list is so important as we start the year and face the inevitable hard and long days of teaching ahead.


It’s a bad day, not a bad job. They had a hard day, they are not a bad student. We had a rough meeting, but we have a great team…Celebrations help ground us to our calling, give us perspective, and help us focus on the good.

The regular to-do list will fill up page after page before we even walk in the building.

These “other” lists will take some time and intentional reflection. I hope you have a few minutes to explore these lists before our August New Year’s…and I hope your start to the school year was as amazing and energizing as our day with First Year Teachers! (check out our #dayzero on the news)

Still Learning…and thinking…and celebrating…