Over the past couple of years, I’ve gotten away from the idea of setting New Year’s resolutions. Making a list of things I want to accomplish in the year was something that would take up time in the month of December, and then by February, I had forgotten what most of them were. I stopped seeing what the value of resolutions were. In the book One Word that Will Change Your Life, Jon Gordon talks about how identifying a single word for the year. Through selecting just one word, you are able to provide greater focus and clarity for your goals. If you then filter your decisions throughout the year based on the mindset created by that word, you make decisions that better align with your true purpose. In a short video on the concept of One Word (you can find the video here), Gordon says that the word should be “What’s going to drive you to be your best this year?”
Over the past couple of years, I’ve participated in this in either a personal or public way of selecting a word of the year. You can read about my 2018 effort here. Then, last year I selected the word why:
After reading Start With Why by Simon Sinek, I knew that it was so important for us to make sure we had a clear definition of the why behind what we do. Throughout the year, in meetings with teachers, colleagues, and in moments of reflection by myself, I paused to ask why, and encouraged others to reflect on why. What it has led to for me is a solid understanding of why I do the work that I do as a principal, and some solid ideas on where we need to go next.
So, that leads me to this year. My #OneWord2021 is VISION.
A true vision is an inspirational statement of an idealistic future. It may not be exactly where we are right now, but it helps our community know where we are going. It has to have clear purpose and include well defined words that our community understands and will rally around. And most importantly, we have to understand that it will take time to get there (some of the best are mapped out over the next 15 to 20 years).
As a relatively new principal, I think it is so important for us to all be on the same page for the work we are doing in our building. We spent lots of time in 2020 identifying our why, and now it’s time to take that understanding so that we can build a shared Vision of Teaching and Learning for Fishers Elementary School. In Thrive: How Schools Will Win the Education Revolution, author Grant Lichtman says:
“In well-aligned schools, teachers and administrators, who are the deliverers of the learning experience, not only understand the vision and mission of their school, but they have had a hand in crafting it.” (emphasis is the author’s)Thrive: How schools will win the education revolution, p.8, (2020)
Earlier this week I sent a newsletter to our staff sharing the quote above and the work that our school leadership team has been doing to get us to the point of being ready to create a shared vision of learning. We are now seeking volunteers to be a part of the Vision Setting Team. My goal as we move forward in this work will be to get input from our staff, from our parents, and from our students. Not only will this team help in creating the vision, but they will be responsible for creating the action steps we will take as a school to implement the vision, as well as some plans for targets to measure our success.
In the video referenced above, Jon Gordon says that distractions are the enemy of greatness. Setting a long list of goals and resolutions has not worked for me, but the #OneWord is something that I can definitely get behind! Vision will be the word that will drive my work for this school year. It will keep me focused on how to best serve the students, staff, and community at Fishers Elementary School.
So now I ask you, what’s your #OneWord2021? What’s the thing that will drive your work for the coming year? If you’re seeking some resources, do a quick search on google or YouTube, there are a ton of options. And if you think you’d like to do this with your students, you could check out this lesson plan on Common Sense Education: One Word Project. Once you’ve selected your own #OneWord, share it out. Use social media, put it in an email to your team or some friends, or just jot it on a notecard to keep it close by. This year, I even decided to create a MudLOVE custom bracelet with VISION on it (you can design your own here). That way I can have the constant reminder of my priorities every time I glance at my wrist! Just do something to hold yourself accountable to your word!