In One Word, I Will Challenge.

Poking through my stream last weekend, I stumbled across the One Word 365 project — an effort to get people to ditch their New Year’s Resolutions in favor of focusing all of their energies on one word:

“Scrap that long list of goals you won’t remember three weeks from now anyway. Choose just one word.

One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live. One word that you can focus on every day, all year long.

It will take intentionality and commitment, but if you let it, your
word will shape you and your year. It will guide your decisions and help
you grow.

Discover the big impact one word can make.”

That’s kind of a cool notion, isn’t it — and I think the minds behind the project are really on to something. 

Long lists of resolutions have always served to remind me of my failures more than they’ve molded me into a better person simply because my time and attention is ALREADY drawn in a thousand directions.

Centering myself — and my choices both personally and professionally — around one word seems A LOT more approachable.

Jeff Delp has a word to center himself around.  It’s TODAY — and his goal is to spend more time living in the moment rather than drowning in the future.

Lyn Hilt is playing along too.  Her word is BEGINNINGS — and she’s got a plan for starting a whole bunch of new projects that are bound to keep her busy both personally and professionally.

My word for the year is going to be CHALLENGE.

I want to spend the next 365 days:

Challenging myself to make choices that put my wife and daughter first in every circumstance no matter what the cost.

Challenging myself to be more compassionate and empathetic towards the quirky kids in my classroom who need a place to belong.

Challenging myself to tinker with my practice on a regular basis, fighting professional stagnation with every ounce of who I am.

I want to spend the next 365 days:

Challenging my students to be determined to improve, no matter where their personal starting lines are.

Challenging my students to wrestle with fairness and justice — in our hallways, in their neighborhoods, and in our world.

Challenging my students to forget about grades for awhile in order to create space for pure, unadulterated learning.

I want to spend the next 365 days:

Challenging my peers — both those I know in person and those I only know in online spaces — to think differently about our role in reimagining school.

Challenging my peers — both those I know in person and those I only know in online spaces — to value action above all else.  Talk is cheap.  It’s time to pony up and drive change, y’all.

Challenging my peers — both those I know in person and those I only know in online spaces — to move forward no matter how insurmountable the barriers to a more productive tomorrow really seem.

I want to be a source of constant challenge my three-year old daughter.  She’s already a risk-taker — intellectually, socially and physically.  I want to nurture that spark because I know it will make her a stronger, more confident woman.

I want to be a source of constant challenge in the comment sections of your blogs.  There are enough cheerleaders in our social spaces, y’all.  I want to be the guy who makes you think again — forcing you to revise and refine what you know about education.

And I want YOU to be a source of constant challenge for ME.  Make me intellectually uncomfortable this year, would ya?  Learning only happens when I feel tension — which is why the people who push back against my bluster are the minds I value the most.

No joke:  I’m doing this.  I’m looking for moments to embrace my inner CHALLENGE starting now.

And I’m going to be better for it as long as I don’t get canned for challenging the wrong person!

 

5 comments

  1. Bill Ferriter

    Hey Cori,
    I absolutely love the idea of listening to the stories of other people — and to the stories of our students. And the notion of incorporating those stories into our own planning work is pretty amazing, too. It would totally result in a compassionate classroom where students felt they could thrive.
    Thanks for sharing your word — and for being someone who continues to motivate and inspire me.
    You rule.
    Bill

  2. Bill Ferriter

    Nice word, John — If you can believe in yourself, you can always move forward.
    I also wonder if staff members have to believe in the change initiatives that their school has decided to tackle, too. So often, were completely skeptical from the get go. Having some kind of faith that there might be SOMETHING worthwhile in the projects our school is pursuing might be a really worthwhile thing to believe in too.
    Rock right on,
    Bill

  3. Cori Saas

    Story.
    Thanks, Bill.
    I want to spend the next 365 days listening attentively to stories:
    The narratives of our students, the narratives of my peers, my daughter’s narratives & my own narratives.
    I want to spend the next 365 days listen attentively to silent stories:
    To foster a space where narrative can be shared & understood, where we can come to feel a sense of belonging to our spaces through telling, retelling & telling our stories.
    I accept the challenge to challenge & I look forward to sharing stories.
    Your friend, cori.

  4. John Wink

    Cool idea, Bill. I plan to forward this to my staff this week. My word is Believe. If you can’t believe in all kids, in your fellow staff members or yourself, you can’t begin to change.
    Thanks again for the motivation.
    John

  5. Jane Kise

    Great idea, Bill. I’m going to go with Excellence. Keeping up energy to go that extra distance gets harder and harder. Thank you for a simple idea to help me focus.