It’s that time of year again – the closing of one year and the beginning of the next. For many, this is a time of reflection, but it’s also a great time for goal setting. I’ll be honest though; I’ve never been that big a fan of the idea of New Year’s Resolutions. Too often, I feel they are broad goals with no timeline, and little incentive to accomplish them. Don’t get me wrong, if you are a tried-and-true believer in setting resolutions and have had success in meeting them, kudos to you. For me, it just doesn’t work.
A few years ago, I was introduced to the work of Jon Gordon, and in particular, his One Word Challenge. At the time, several people in my professional learning network were talking about this as an alternative to setting resolutions. You can think of the one word as something of a filter – it impacts what you do personally, professionally, and all areas between. That same year, I learned that Indiana University head football coach Tom Allen utilized the idea of One Word to set goals for the team and encouraged players to choose their own word for the year. That winter break, my Twitter timeline was filled with educators and football players posting graphics with their chosen word.
Over the years, I’ve participated in this process a few times. In 2018, the first year I participated, I failed to pick just one word, and instead had several words. In 2020, my word was Why – based on the ideas of Simon Sinek’s TED Talk “Start with why.” In 2021, my word was Vision as we were engaged in a vision-setting process at FES. I seem to have missed the #OneWord challenge for last year. This fall, at the Indiana Association of School Principals Fall Conference, I heard Jon Gordon speak, and that keynote reminded me of the One Word process I’ve used in the past.
Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time digging into the concept of Collective Teacher Efficacy (CTE) and John Hattie’s work around the influences of learning for students. CTE has been identified as the influence with the greatest impact on student learning. I define CTE as the beliefs that educators hold about our own ability to impact student growth. Given the amount of time that was spent thinking about this concept, it was easy to make a jump from there to my #OneWord for 2023:
What I’m reflecting on in my role as a building principal is the fact that my actions can have a huge impact on many people. So, this year, as I make decisions, I’ll keep my One Word in mind – what will have the greatest positive impact on student learning and growth? How can I help the teachers in my school have a greater impact? What can I do personally to impact our school as a learning organization? These questions will help guide me throughout the year.
I encourage you, as we move into this new year, to take a moment to reflect on what your word might be. If you are looking for ideas of what others have chosen, you could simply click this link for a search on Twitter for posts others have made about their #OneWord for 2023. Once you choose your word, find some way to make it meaningful to you. You could create a graphic and print it out to hang near your desk, or you could post a graphic on social media. This year, I chose to have a MudLove Personalized Bracelet made with my word. Each time I wear it, I’ll have the reminder of my impact.
Some of you might even feel the desire to have your students create their own One Word. Check out this idea:
If you choose to participate in the OneWord Challenge, please share what you create!