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?