The end of a year is always peppered with retrospection. News programs air glorious segments displaying a balance of the high and lows in our current events. There is usually a mix of cinematic music layered over fleeting images meant to instruct us on the collective path we walked during the year.
In recent weeks, our days have been marred by a series of deaths of icons. These losses measure up to what seems to be a trend for Year 2016. Many of my own heroes have stepped into the Great Beyond without warning. These unfortunate passings have been connected to other events deemed as negative for this past year.
A recurring outcry this year, when a negative event occurs or the passing of a beloved prominent figure, has been for the year 2016 to stop or end already. I understand grief all too well and I do empathize with those who mourn their respective losses.
I remember waking up shocked to learn of David Bowie’s passing. His music inspired me to question to the status quo as youth. A David Bowie Video debuting on MTV in the 1980s was a cultural event during my youth. Gene Wilder’s sad departure left me wanting to visit lands of “Pure Imagination” with his unforgettable turn as Willy Wonka. Prince’s unexpected demise led me down a nostalgic trip revisiting his music. We all have some connection to those we mourn this year. I am not alone nor should I stand out in my grief.
The tradition of establishing a New Year’s Resolution is time-honored (no pun intended) and a concept I have brilliantly failed at over the years. A couple of years ago, I learned about the One Word Book (Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, Jimmy Page, 2014) and Concept through other educators with whom I have connected on Twitter. I noticed during the days leading up to New Year’s Day 2014 many individuals sharing their respective One Word. One Word is essentially a way to capture a personal resolution into the essence of a single word. It is a way to enhance and create a focus around a New Year’s Resolution.
Promptly forgetting to set up a One Word for the New Year that was 2015, I jumped back into the arena of my principalship in the schoolhouse. Towards the end of that year, I faced a life-long fear of flying and boarded an airplane for an EdCamp. I wanted to keep the momentum going and soon embraced One Word for the upcoming year of 2016. I choose “Fearless.”
The pivotal moment of that word for me was deciding to shift careers this past year. I walked away from nearly twenty-five years in the schoolhouse as educator and administrator to join Buncee as their Educator Advisor. My One Word was almost a mantra for me as I embraced a new opportunity to serve and support the noble profession of Education.
This year, I felt as if I had my One Word for 2017 locked into place. I even shared it with my wife and couple of friends. I was determined to settle upon “Roots” as my One Word after much reflection. I had the blog post written in my mind and I was determined to aspire to getting back to being firmly rooted with family, friends and ideas.
Then, another loss rippled across the universe and I shifted gears to another word: Hope.
(For those who have not seen the end of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” I am about to reveal the film’s ending in a way. Spoiler Alert!)
The word “Hope” is uttered by the character of Princess Leia at the end of the most recent “Star Wars” film, “Rogue One.” This standalone “Star Wars” tale details the heroic and selfless acts of a ragtag team of Rebels stealing the design plans for the Death Star. The plans end up in the hands of Princess Leia after an odyssey of courage, teamwork and ultimately life-loss by our heroes in the film.
When I learned of the death of actress Carrie Fisher, who immortalized the character of Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” film saga, I immediately thought of “Hope” becoming my One Word for 2017.
As educator, I have made efforts to for my colleagues to default to the positive when it comes to serving and supporting our kids. I truly believe that the best course of action in Education is to tune all things in the key of positivity. The origins of #CelebrateMonday are rooted in that ethos. My mindset behind the creation of that concept two years ago was to ignite the week with a positive mindset for our students and teachers.
A hashtag for the first day of the work week is a good start. Tuning into Hope takes things to a more universal level.
Hope is my One Word for 2017 and I am proud to continue the pattern of positivity for another year. Hope gets a bad rap in some circles when it comes to education, leadership or strategy. I have seen the concept of Hope maligned and belittled. I have been the subject of those slings from time to time in my various roles as teacher and principal.
What if we tuned Hope into the lexicon of the schoolhouse more? What if Hope was a recurring foundation for action, decision-making and innovation? What if Hope was not a novice idea or a rarity in our schools?
Hope has stirred the thinking of the creators, artists and innovators who have come before us. Hope motivated artists like Bowie, Wilder, Prince and Fisher to push against the tide and create something different and lasting.
Hope was the gift I received daily in the lessons from my parents as a youth.
Hope compelled me to save Princess Leia many times as a boy during youthful “Star Wars” daydreams.
Hope inspired me to take the journey of a service as an educator.
Hope still inspires me. I see it everyday in the eyes of my three children. I hear it in the dreams I share with my wife. I feel it in the pulse of the educators who blog, tweet and share the positive and innovative things happening for all kids.
I believe that our best moments are here, now and ahead of us. Hope is the catalyst for great things, creative action and inspired change.