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Follow Your North Star

Focusing Your Lens
By Vickie Swann
Follow Your North Star

(Photo source: author) 
Practical lens, how do you make that happen

Have you ever fantasized about the perfect meal, the perfect job, or the perfect vacation only to arrive at the dinner table, a new school, or a destination to be less than impressed? Let’s just say, feelings of disappointment, frustration, and thoughts of “how did I miss this?” certainly cast a shadow on the experience. Hopefully, this has not happened to you. However, if I had to guess, I'm sure most can relate in some way to these emotions and experiences. In the third article of this series, Focusing Your Lens, I hope to share a few steps you can take to be S.U.R.E. a perceived reality matches the real deal! 

Of the examples mentioned, an imperfect souffle or a tarnished holiday are short-term, however, misaligned professional expectations could cause undue stress to you, your family, and the school. What proactive measures can we take to be S.U.R.E. our professional endeavors are led by our passions and values? How do we keep our north star in sight to guide our path during stormy nights or fading lights? When considering a transition, taking S.U.R.E. steps can guide you through the process. 

To be S.U.R.E.:  

S - START with your passions,

U - UTILIZE your champions,

R - RESEARCH and align, and maintain

E - ENTHUSIASM that lasts.     

S - START With Your Passions

If you’ve been reading this series of articles, you may recall the importance of zooming in on values that are, intentionally or unintentionally, at the core of your decisions and actions. As I am currently in a period of transition, I look to my north star which is focusing on my values and passions; empowering others, environmental sustainability, and competency-based, wall-less learning. Starting with your passions as the cornerstone of your search is paramount. 

U - UTILIZE Your Champions

In a recent chat with my dear friend, Rebecca, I shared information about an organization that was seeking curriculum developers and professional learning facilitators, a job I felt she would be perfect for. At the end of my raving about this fabulous opportunity, she asked when I was going to apply. What?!? The job was perfect for her! However, as one of my biggest champions, I should not have been surprised that she would be thinking about supporting me in my job search rather than thinking of herself. I cannot reiterate enough the importance of knowing your champions and surrounding yourself with folks that see all your potential, beyond your own blind spots or uncertainties. It was her nudge that encouraged me to consider the possibility and then apply for the job. 

R - RESEARCH and Align

As part of the international recruitment circuit (whether virtual or in-person), recruiting fairs and international search agencies play a huge role in placement. As convenient as fairs are, they cannot take the place of thorough, personalized research. For instance, if I were focusing on a coaching position, I would jump at the opportunity to work with a school that uses Student-Centered Coaching (SCC). Since I’ve immersed myself in SCC through multiple trainings, book studies, and PLCs for international instructional coaches, my personal research would go well beyond the school’s website and mission statement. Entering an interview knowing my values, I have the confidence to ask essential questions to ensure what I perceive to understand about a school’s culture is the reality.


For some, the idea of walking over 20 kilometers a day would equate to self-inflicted torture. However, for my husband and I, it brings a sense of calm, peace, and connection to each other and the world around us. To date, we have walked across three countries and plan to walk across France and Italy in the months ahead. I must admit, I can hardly wait to put on my boots, grab my backpack, and feel like Bilbo Baggins on a big adventure! Year after year, the same excitement prevails for walking, volunteering, empowering young and adult learners, and advocating for our planet. My enthusiasm is compounded when my core values and passions are intertwined. Being an educator is one of the hardest jobs out there. The struggle to maintain social-emotional well-being and a healthy work-life balance is common for many educators. Remembering our purpose, our values, and our why is vital to our ability to bring enthusiasm to our work each and every day.

Whether in your personal or professional life, keep your north star in sight to ensure your passions and values guide you along the way; surround yourself with those who empower you; align the perception and reality of employment opportunities; show up enthusiastically every day.  

As you consider your next adventure, pause, reflect, and… 

S - START with your passions,

U - UTILIZE your champions,

R - RESEARCH and align, and remember

E - ENTHUSIASM that lasts!


Vickie is a professional educator that has worked with teachers, students, and families in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. She is passionate about environmental sustainability, empowering others, advancing competency-based skills throughout the curriculum, and developing compassionate humans.


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07/06/2022 - Big Chit
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