The year that was.

Source: via Summer on Pinterest


Things fall apart so that other things can fall together.

In one of my favourite posts of 2012, my dear buddy George Couros wrote such words of reflection that really connected with me “I have also learned about the importance of those closest to me and how I need to appreciate them more”. I remember reading this post and coming to tears. A few times.

You see, in a similar vein, I want to take some time to open up and reflect upon the year that was. The vibe of my blog is in the process of a transformation; as am I. I’m on the cusp of some great things, ideas of which I am profoundly proud of, experiences of which scare me, but essentially are rooted in the currents of my bliss. I will unpack more of this as the new year ticks over.

But as for closing off 2012, here goes…

If anyone took me aside and told in a fairly black/white line, what would unfold this year, as the clock turned midnight 2011…it is safe to say I would have headed straight to bed with the cookie dough ice-cream and sought haven in the safety of my doona for twelve months.

People talked of 2012….of the year the world was going to end. In so many ways it did.  But in so many ways, this was a year of newness and growth. Out of  fear and failure, of loss and paralysing hurt, success came packaged in lessons of how I, alone, dealt with each and every situation. Gifts were bestowed in the rekindling of brilliant friendships, of time with my wonderful family and in the joy of shared experiences. It became so clear, not only does Life Go On, but life is indeed what you make it.

I lost my old life this year. There is intense grief in that. And choice. I made a choice for this not to make be bitter, but to make me better. To not let heartbreak and hardship harden me, but to stay soft and always believe that this world is a very extraordinary place. I became so much for cognisant of the blessing that abound me. And a heck load more impressed with the person I am and the things I am capable of.

So without over simplifying this, I offer these ‘lessons’, I’ve reflected deeply, and I know more will come to me.

* People want to help you. They want to share their story with you. Let them. At the end of the day, it’s all we’ve got; our story.

* Be kind, everyone is fighting a tough battle

* You’ll be ok. But you have to want to be.

* Be open and curious. Be ready for cool things to happen.

* You know what’s going on. Trust your instinct. Everything you need is already right there within you.

* Never pass up time with friends

* You have to show and guide people in how you need to be treated or reacted to. When you have experienced something that others only can imagine, they often don’t know how to approach you. Show them. I learned a lot about my own leadership capabilities here.

* Take a chance. If you don’t like your situation, change it. You aren’t a tree.


I’ve cemented friendships with good people who have been with me through thick and thin. Who pick me up when I’m down, or lie next to me when it’s just too much to stand. They have in the end, essentially danced with me in the rain. And for that, I cannot express how eternally grateful I am. We have perhaps lost sight of the utter brilliance this year has ended up being about, though. I saw this when a new friend recently told me that he was wowed by my Facebook. That it looks like I have had an amazing year, full of fantastic events and good people. That was profound for me to realise. So I looked back over the 12 months of Facebook, and it really is a legacy of people, events, thoughts and experiences that I have enjoyed…Facebook has been a brilliant reflection tool for me. Things fell apart, but I didn’t. Things changed, and so have I. I think it’s good to be changed by such life events; it’s important. In the process of loss, I found much more, and I am better for it.

So perhaps over and above the 13 years of school, 8 years of university and all the conferences in between, this year has been my year of learning. The year is sending as it should. My tribe of friends and family, my PLN, and me… I’m settled and have all I need.

Looking ahead to a brilliant year, knowing that we are strong, smart and brave.



Summer Howarth

I'm driven by student engagement, by working with people who are invested in a notion that we need to work together to shape an education worth having for all young people. I am on fire with ideas; shaped by the people I've met and work with, the possibility of education and a future of what the teaching profession could be. I am deeply passionate in advocacy for Middle Schooling and young people, directing my energies to causes promoting the efficacy of the teaching profession through strengthening the experiences of learners; influencing students and student teachers. When I am able to personally connect with people from my online Professional Learning Network (PLN) I am further inspired to learn more, think widely and dream up better things for students. Currently working with teachers and stakeholder from across Australia and colleagues at The Innovation Unit on Learning Frontiers. #lovingit. Continue the conversation on Twitter; @EduSum


  1. This just makes me miss you more, even though I’m ecstatic for you.

  2. Beautiful Summer…I love this quote: “* Take a chance. If you don’t like your situation, change it. You aren’t a tree.”

    As you, I look back on my 2012 as one of my best and worst years and the tough part sometimes is that I am good that it was both. You learn from both angles and you take what you learned and be better. Sometimes that means adding things to your life, and sometimes, unfortunately, it means through subtracting them.

    I am proud of you that you wrote this and put yourself out there because it is not always easy to show vulnerability. I hope that you continue to show the entire world how amazing you are and I hope 2013 is your best year ever!


  3. Pingback: Me in Review
  4. Hi Summer,
    I’m so sorry to hear that it was a tough year for you. What I like most about your post is your reminder that there are friends who are always with you – who will see you through thick and thin. I wonder if I’ve told those people enough about how I’ve appreciated their support. I’ll be sure to do that- and I’m thankful to you for that reminder.

    Last year’s New Year’s post was a reflection on a year grieving my mother’s death. Some years are just crummy. We do make it through, though.

    Hang in there – and know that cyber-hugs are coming from around the world.

    Janet |

  5. Wow, Summer.
    This is your story. But it is also our story. You write and reflect with an incredible sense of maturity and you are such a role model to early career teachers who thirst for examples of colleagues who are thoughtful about what they do.

    I wrote down the quote “* You’ll be ok. But you have to want to be” to put into my teacher log book. It’s all about attitude, and that is so powerful. I found that a good reminder not to give those negative thoughts any space in my brain.

    I am so proud of you and can’t wait to see you continuing to go from strength to strength in 2013.

    Am here for and with you, standing shoulder to shoulder.

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