Monday, January 2, 2017

My #OneWord2017

Happy New Year!

I've decided to try that #oneword challenge again this year. Searching on Twitter showed me that many folks have chosen to beautify their word with images and photo mashups, and their words consist of things like culture, opportunity, embrace, shine, climb, joy, relentless, courage, present, balance, positivity, focus, energy, pause, innovation, grow, believe, shift, limitless, etc. In fact, look at all the words that an Ohio principal's staff members have created and documented:
A fabulous rationale (from an Ontario educator, Jaclyn Balen), can be found in this blog post.
Last year, my rebellious word was "continue". My #OneWord2017 is weird. I don't mean that the word I've chosen is the word "weird". I mean that it's a bit offbeat and unusual.

My word is forgive.

Let me explain.

Forgive connected to Faith: A few weeks ago, (December 10, to be specific) my parish priest gave a good homily. It made enough of an impact that I tweeted parts of it.

I'm a Roman Catholic, and I like to joke that I'm a practicing Catholic because I'm not really good at it - I need to practice. The hardest part about being a Catholic, for me, is the forgiveness aspect. It's not easy to forgive others (or myself) or accept forgiveness. Usually, I go to confession twice a year (before Easter and before Christmas). After that homily and based on my One Word goal, I'm going to try to go to confession once a month.

Forgive connected to Health: I've done quite well on my goal to continue healthy living. Finding my personal trainer in the fall, who advises me along the journey, was a big help. Despite the support and the obvious positive physical changes (i.e. I fit into my old clothes and I'm no longer addicted to sugary drinks like I used to be), my weight and other numbers haven't changed much at all. I have to forgive myself - not forget what I'm doing or abandon it, but let go of the need for any numbers on the scale to change. Good thing I don't own a scale! I've joined an online support community led by my personal trainer so that I can work on nutrition and exercise. (I suspect the nutrition parts are a bigger challenge for me than I thought.)

Forgive connected to Relationships: There are some pretty "challenging" people that I deal with at times. The workshop I attended in Vancouver on having Difficult Discussions reminded me that I should always assume positive intent. These students or adults do not behave the way they do because they are intentionally trying to be difficult. They are coping in the ways they know how and may not even realize that they are frustrating me or acting in inappropriate or in less-than-helpful ways. In 2017, I'm going to try and be more forgiving of others when I feel slighted. Forgiveness doesn't mean that I'll ignore everything for the sake of peace. I will try and put myself in their place and not let resentment impact my response.

Forgive connected to School Projects and Goals: I have some big tasks planned (e.g. the new media assignment for my primary division students, getting further ahead on my research, running the Secret Path Book Club on Teach Ontario, offering some new presentations at different venues, etc.) and if they don't go quite as planned, I need to forgive myself. Mistakes are part of learning. It's okay to stumble sometimes.

Forgive connected to FNMI issues: There's a reason why the group formed to address the wrongs against our indigenous people in Canada was called The Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We need to acknowledge what happened, get to the facts, and then move forward. We need to take actions that show we want to be forgiven. As educators, we may have, through our common history or through micro aggressions we may not even realize we perpetuate, contributed to the sad situation that created and supported the residential school system. I will not treat equity issues as a fad. I will try to improve my track record.

I also want to embrace the "give" portion of the word separately. I'll give myself a chance. I'll give others a chance. I'll give my time and talents and treasure. If I can give and forgive in 2017, it'll be a pretty awesome year.

P.S. In the spirit of "giving", I thought I'd share the forms that I created as part of my media movie unit with the primary division students. Because I personalize these sheets, they may not be as useful to just print and use immediately, but they are shared as examples that you can modify. The illustrations of the various film production roles come from my daughter. She drew them for me several years ago and she says that she can do a much better job now, but I like them and since they were what my students and I used when we were first learning about these jobs, they worked for us.

Media Production Roles - What did you do when we made the movie?

Topic, purpose, audience, and skills needed when making media

Responding to and Evaluating Media - being a film critic!


  1. You're amazing. Thank you for continuing to include your faith walk in your learning, as I do. It makes a difference to me that you open that door to people, and make it clear that it's an important part of who you are. Forgiveness is so ruddy hard, and I think it's one of those life skills that we need to model all the time for our students (especially forgiving ourselves).

    Congratulations on the amazing progress you've made on your fitness goals. Nutrition is key, as I've been learning, working with a dietitian this year, and I'm grateful to my spouse for pointing out that it didn't matter how hard I was working my body, if I wasn't going to fuel it properly to do that work.

    Perhaps not surprisingly, my word for this year is fuel. I may borrow some of your structure in this post to help get my ideas organized!

  2. Hi my friend. Thanks for the encouragement. It's a tricky balance, as I don't want people to presume that if I am X that naturally Y and Z are to follow. Kristi Keery Bishop's post on this was very timely:
    Fuel sounds like a fabulous word for you in 2017. Let me know if your dietitian has any good tips I need to borrow. Send me the link to your OneWord when it's done (but make sure not to rob yourself of family or rest time to do it!)