It's an inspiring challenging. I've been following the #OneWord Challenge on Twitter the last couple weeks... especially the #OneWordOnt posts - reading blogs, listening to the OnEdMentors show on voicEdRadio, following @jacbalen's posts, listening and reading Doug Peterson's This Week in Ontario Edublogs and trying to decide what my one word for 2018 will be. (Check out the links to some of the blogs already posted if you can - they are truly thoughtful, reflective works that will get you looking for your own inspirational One Word for 2018).
I will admit to some shameful lurking here. It's a tough challenge. Just...one...word? How's a girl to pick? It reminds me of one of my guilty pleasures...watching the TLC Network Program "Say Yes to the Dress." If you've never seen the show, it's about prospective Brides who go to the absolute Mecca of Bridal Wear - Kleinfeld Bridal in New York, NY, to pick out their wedding dress. They try on these absolutely fabulous dresses and have to decide which one they will wear on their wedding day. The tulle, chiffon and satin are flowing and the sparkly sequins are everywhere and they have to pick one. Just one.
Image by: Nathan O'Nions, 2013
As hard as that is for the Brides on the show...this is even harder. Picking that One Word to guide me for 2018 has been nagging at me. I have tried out so many since this challenge began. Tried them on, worn them around a bit...and then discarded them as just not quite right. But 2018 is only a few days away. I need to make a choice. A Word I can live with and growth with for the entire year.
One word keeps coming back to me, though. On the show, it's that dress that you try on and just can't forget. That the other dresses are never quite able to top. The one that makes you feel beautiful inside and out and that you can actually visualize yourself wearing down the isle. If that word keeps coming back to me, it must be The One. To paraphrase from Lord of the Rings, "One Word to Rule them All."
Decision Made. My #OneWord for 2018 is: Relationships.
Relationships guide everything I do. Relationships make the seemingly impossible in the classroom...possible.
Relationships with my students
When we have built strong relationships in the classroom, students trust that even if something we are trying may sound a little bit crazy, there is a good reason for doing it. They will try new things and take risks in a supportive environment. They feel safe to share their ideas and feelings with each other and with me. They will ask questions and look for answers even when the going gets tough. The time I spend each day building relationships with my students pays off in huge dividends and is always worth the effort and the time.
Relationships with parents
Keeping parents informed of what is going on in the classroom and in the learning of their child is crucial to their success. I only have those Students for 194 days (less PD days), their parents have them the rest of the time. How can parents support what we are doing at school, if I haven't built a relationship with them as well? That means sharing way more of the good than the bad. If they know how much I believe in their child and all the great things they have and will accomplish, then when things get a bit off track, that relationship will help us all get the train going again.
Relationships with colleagues
In my building, my board, my online PLN - wherever I can find them...I build relationships with folks who will help me grow personally and professionally. Sometimes I need a like minded colleague to help me work out a lesson or an issue, and sometimes I need a colleague to challenge me to look deeper at why I am doing something, or to challenge my assumptions. Sometimes I need a colleague to just loan me a book, or who will listen after a tough day...sometimes I am that person for them. Joy Kirr writes in her book, Shift This: "Teaching is the toughest thing I've ever done." It's true and I'm sure glad I don't have to do it alone.
Relationships at home
We all need a safe place to fall, a shelter in the storm, a refuge from the daily battles and stresses. Wether it's a spouse, a partner, a parent, children, extended family or a good friend, I need these people to keep me sane. They remind me that there is a life outside of school and help me keep myself in balance.
"Relationships" is my #OneWordOnt for 2018. Take up the challenge. What's yours?
Image courtesy of Flickr 2012