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School Leadership

By Cathy Buyrn, M.Ed.

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By Shelley Littleton M.Ed., Kara McCulloch M.S., & Donni Perry M.Ed.

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We’ve experienced a school year like no other. As the school year ends, it is the natural time to reflect on what we’ve learned and plan for what we hope to create. Curiosity led us to invite students, parents, and staff to share their reflections, plans, and hopes. Join us in celebrating what people across school communities are looking forward to in the next school year. Learn about the new tools in their toolboxes or find out what word best describes their experiences this past school year. Hear from teachers, students, families, school nurses, and many more. Click on the word map image below to view a series of short video clips. You may be surprised to discover what people are longing for in the 2021-2022 school year.

The word map (Figure 1) portrays the sentiments expressed in the videos. Certain themes re-occurred and are depicted in the graphic. The large words are words that were heard more frequently and represent shared experiences, while smaller words reveal unique experiences of teaching and learning during a global pandemic.

If you are interested in joining us in this project, click this link to add your voice to our video collection using the Flipgrid App. Share your excitement about the upcoming school year by adding your hopes and wishes and reflecting on what you’ve learned this past year and what new tools you plan to keep in your toolbox. The video clips will be showcased on our William & Mary T/TAC website. Invite others from your school division to join the project and share their desires for education next year.

Figure 1

Voices From the Field

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Tools for Self-Reflection

Most educators realize that self-care and goal-setting are important for everyone and require ongoing consideration and practice. However, prioritizing our own needs is often easier said than done. The Virginia Department of Education’s I’m Determined Project offers a variety of tools to assist in teaching and facilitating self-determination skills. You may even recognize resources you’ve already used with your students. Did you know that educators are also using I’m Determined tools for self-reflection, goal-setting, and prioritizing self-care?


Planning for Self-Care

You can begin prioritizing self-care by asking, “What does a good day look like for me?” Practicing thoughtful reflection and actively planning for daily self-care involves listing the things that happen when you have a good day. Utilizing an intentional planning tool, such as the I’m Determined Good Day Plan (Figure 2) increases positive experiences and guides you toward more days similar to the one you originally envisioned. 


View the example of a Good Day Plan below, submitted by Tomeka Burton, a special educator at King’s Fork Middle School. Notice how her plan reflects self-care, which directly affects student engagement in her co-taught class.


Figure 2


Example Good Day Plan


Resource provided by I’m Determined, a state-directed project funded by the Virginia Department of Education. © 2006–2018 I’m Determined. All rights reserved. Last updated 01/2018

Maintaining Positive Routines

Continue to update your Good Day Plan as your routines and needs change. Ongoing use of this tool will ensure that you are intentionally incorporating self-care into your day. If you find that goal-setting is one way to hold yourself accountable for making time for self-care, continue reading about another I’m Determined tool that can help you set and reach your personal goals.


Setting Personal Goals

As the school year comes to an end, consider using the I’m Determined Goal Plan (Figures 3 & 5) to identify ways you have grown as an educator in the past year and establish your hopes for the upcoming school year. Perhaps one of the many new skills you recently learned is one you would like to refine and keep in your toolbox. Or, maybe you are longing to implement a familiar routine that you desperately missed in the absence of in-person instruction. You may even decide that the most important goal at the moment is to establish a routine for self-care.


As you decide on your personal goal, imagine the outcomes and identify your circle of support. By documenting this process on the goal template, you will have evidence to revisit as you hold yourself accountable through completion. To use this tool, first envision the possibilities for next school year and follow the steps below. View the Goal Plan example (Figure 3) by Donni Perry, an instructional coach. Notice how she incorporated both personal and professional goals into her plan.


Figure 3


Example Goal Plan


Resource provided by I’m Determined, a state-directed project funded by the Virginia Department of Education. © 2006–2018 I’m Determined. All rights reserved. Last updated 01/2018


Celebrating Successes

Continue to reference your goal plan as you celebrate your successes next school year. Consider reusing this resource to establish new goals for yourself and your students.


Are you interested in viewing completed examples of the I’m Determined Good Day Plan (Figures 2 & 4) and Goal Plan (Figures 3 & 5)? If so, follow this link to browse.

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This year has taken us on quite a journey that has taught us many lessons. One of those lessons is the realization that we can’t provide the best for our students until we have prioritized our own well-being. In this article, we highlighted two tools you can try as you prioritize your practice of self-reflection, goal-setting, and self-care. We encourage you to use these tools in your personal practice as well as with your students. The fillable PDF format allows for choice and creativity as you fill out the documents. This includes electronic or paper versions and the ability to add text, computer images, and even personal photos.


Select the images below to create your own plans.


Figure 4


I’m Determined Good Day Plan


Figure 5

I’m Determined Goal Plan



We invite you to share your example plans. If you are excited to share, please email your Good Day Plan and/or Goal Plan to [email protected]


Virginia Department of Education Self-Determination Project. (n.d.). Good day plan. I’m Determined.


Virginia Department of Education Self-Determination Project. (n.d.). Goal plan. I’m Determined.

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