Word for the Year


Teachers from my previous school may have a wry smile to themselves as to the topic of this blogpost. The school principal frequently starts the year by asking what our ‘word for the year’ is. Personally, I like this approach. I like words, and the power of one word to shape a year is not to be underestimated.

Last year, my word was ‘innovate’. This helped me to remember that I was aiming for more. Better relationships with my students. More meaningful, insightful, authentic learning to occur in my lessons. Ways to integrate technology into my classes that went beyond a $1000 pencil or electronic exercise book.

I find that my word for the year seems to just pop into my head. I don’t go looking for it, it just appears. And if it stays, then I know it’s the word for me, even if it’s word I’d prefer not to have. This ‘sticking power’ is what I find so useful about having a word for the year. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in goals, and in setting down plans and ideas that you wish to accomplish. But I don’t find these as easy to remember, as easy to keep at the forefront of my mind. One word though, now that’s easy.

So, this year’s word? Learn. I like choosing verbs. They’re a call to action. They help me frame what it is I’m doing. I’d probably prefer a more elegant word for 2015. Inspire. Yeah, that’s what I’d rather be doing. But ‘learn’ has stuck. And I’ve already come to appreciate that I need to learn before I can be inspired, or perhaps be lucky enough to inspire others. And I’ve got a lot of learning ahead of me: a CORE Education eFellowship for one thing. And a brand new job with The Mind Lab for another!

A month or so ago I was looking to capture my ‘moonshot‘ for education, using the language of design thinking to frame what I feel my purpose is. It’s still a work in progress, and I’m sure it’ll show up on this blog at some stage. But I’m still wrestling with it. It doesn’t sing to me yet, and it doesn’t have the same stickiness as my word does. And I think that’s primarily because I need to learn more first. As Ewan McIntosh might tell me (I’m reading his book How to Come up with Great Ideas at the moment), I need to immerse myself more yet. To me, this immersion is synonymous with learning. My moonshot can’t be forced. I have a few more questions I need to explore yet. And so, for 2015, I’ll learn.


12 thoughts on “Word for the Year

  1. jacqchch January 11, 2015 / 9:56 pm

    Enjoyed this! I’m like the idea of a single verb as a professional call to action. Thinking now about what mine might be… (and remembering times early in my career where it was probably ‘Survive!’)

    • pnicoll January 11, 2015 / 10:47 pm

      One year my word was ‘breathe’. Mostly this was to remind myself to think before I speak – not to go galloping off on my high horse 😉

  2. Melulater January 12, 2015 / 8:40 pm

    “Survive” would probably be the word I should have engaged for 2014 as it was a horrific year professionally. Luckily there were a few good thing that happened that did help me “survive”.

    I think for 2015 I’d like my word to be joy. I want joy in my working life and personal life. I don’t just want to survive, I want to enjoy what life in its entirety has to offer. Part of that means finding a place of work that also has joy rather than survival as a key feature. Tall oder I know.

    • pnicoll January 12, 2015 / 9:10 pm

      Nope, by keeping ‘joy’ at the centre of all things, it will help you to prioritise this. A lovely word. Living must be about more than just surviving, but indeed thriving. Best wishes!

  3. MissDtheTeacher January 13, 2015 / 9:33 pm

    I love this! I have had three words for a few years now. Every year I revisit them to change them and then think they are still just as relevant as before. Activate – get active, involved, say yes, get more people involved Educate – learn as much as I can Connect – connect people, connect myself (more socially than professionally this one, the latter is much easier :-P)

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