I love the passage from one year to another — it’s a time to reflect on the past year, learn from our mistakes, and feel gratitude for all the experiences life brings. I know the idea of a “new year” is all in our heads, but I always feel like my life is put on pause for a few days as I look ahead with hope to  growth and new possibilities.

 I’ve always made a long list of  new year’s resolutions which I promptly forgot before January was over. This is why the #oneword idea struck a chord with me. Choose one word that resonates with you and use it to guide your year – just one word, but make it meaningful. Last year, my #oneword was “explore,” and I feel that for the first half of the year, I lived that word completely. I hung it by my desk where it reminded me every day to experiment, to try something new, and to enjoy taking risks. I experimented with technology that was new to me, empowered others by saying “yes” and allowing them to implement their ideas (our school now runs on solar energy thanks to our Science department’s vision), looked into new forms of assessment as we make baby steps towards going gradeless in secondary school, and experimented with my word choice, finding ways to infuse my language with positivity. I blogged regularly and my blog posts helped me reflect and grow. Until September I felt that I was living my #oneword and it was guiding me to be a more positive risk-taker.

Then life took a number of twists, and I felt like I lost control. Between two major hurricanes, taking on three months of full-time subbing, and a flu epidemic that left so many of our students in the hospital, the school year became a wild ride. Being back in the classroom was lovely — oh, how I’ve missed teaching! But doing two full-time jobs for three months was overwhelming. Whew! September through December was tough.

That doesn’t mean I gave up my #oneword, fortunately. I explored like crazy — learning, for instance, what teaching can be like in this new age of technology. When I last taught, there were no smartphones, no laptops, no Google Classroom… things have changed, and it’s been so much fun to try this all out. At the same time, the basics of teaching remained the same, and I’ve loved spending time with students again, creating relationships, helping them develop a growth mindset, and learning together.

But though I survived the whirlwind, my blogging did not. I look back and see that my last post was on Sept. 30th. Then, not a word. I didn’t take time for reflection. It occurred to me that this is what my blog means to me. It’s that time to sit down and think about what’s going on around me at school, to feel gratitude for the amazing teachers I work with, and to highlight the risks they take. It’s my time to breath deeply and gain the energy I need to move forward. In not taking the time to reflect for these past four months, I feel like I lost a part of myself. I stopped exercising, I ate on the fly, I lost sight of the bigger picture as I frantically put out small fires.

Thinking about the importance of simply stopping and breathing has brought me to my #oneword2018:

I want to practice mindfulness every day, but especially when things get crazy. I’ll hang this word art by my desk to remind me to take the time to reflect daily. When life becomes a roller coaster (and when you work in education, you’re pretty much guaranteed it will), mindfulness will be my seat belt.

Buckle up 2018, here we go! What’s your #oneword for this new year?


  1. Hmm I need to try this #oneword2018 idea. As I make my way to Niagara Falls right now, I have plenty of time to reflect and choose my word. Great article!

    • Thanks for taking the time to read Raymi! I love #oneword – works so much better than all my resolutions. But I have to find a way to keep it in my radar – I didn’t do that for #oneword2016 and have absolutely no idea what it was 🙂

  2. I can’t imagine dealing with those issues. I thought losing a colleague and friend this semester has been tough; those are a crazy collection of circumstances! I love your approach. We are human, but in difficult times our kiddos look to us for guidance, security, and ideas on how to cope. Mindfulness is key!

    • Oh, I think losing someone is worse, Kevin, and I’m so sorry to hear that you had to go through this. But you’re so right – by modeling coping skills we teach our students how to deal with stress and the ups and downs of life.

  3. What a great word, mindfulness… indeed something we should all practice. Last year my #oneword was shift this, after I read the book, I believe throughout the year I did my best by digging into the “how” instead of only the “why.” My new #oneword2018 is balance, finding a balance between my personal and professional life, working on both equally; so I guess I will need some of your mindfulness to achieve my new #oneword2018
    Thanks for sharing your word.

    • Ylonka, I’m your witness – you lived and breathed ‘shift this’- it was inspiring! I think balance is the perfect word and I’m going to hold you to it, starting with our new found “love” of exercise!! 🙂

  4. I had chosen opportunity as my year intention and it’s great to read your article about the power of words. I guess the #oneword2018 idea is almost the same. I can relate to what you said about the struggles of keeping intention throughout the year. Let’s see what opportunities arise for me and hope you can use mindfulness every day! Happy New year Carla!!

  5. Happy new year, Caro!! Thank you so much for reading and commenting – you can’t imagine how much I love to read the comments people leave! As the school mindfulness “pro” I hope you’ll help me stay accountable to my word!

  6. Carla – I can’t imagine juggling and balancing all of that for four months! Wow. I’m sure there were great opportunities, but also a frantic race just to keep up. I think that this is the perfect time to step back, take a deep breath, and focus on mindfulness for the next year!

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