One Word Challenge 2020

January 14, 2020 - 4 minutes read

A new year brings with it a renewed sense of focus. It is a time to reflect on the year that has passed and look forward to the coming year. A new decade brings with it an even greater desire to reflect, take stock and reevaluate.

This year my one word is a little unconventional. In the past I have chosen words like ‘focus’ and ‘patience’. Superintendent Kennedy has chosen ‘hustle’ for his one word of 2020. Irwin Park’s vice-principal, Laine Anderson has chosen ‘give’. And Rockridge Secondary principal, Judy Duncan has picked ‘notice’. This year my word is ‘small’.

While small might seem uninspiring, I think small is mighty! Great things can not happen without all the small pieces coming together. It takes small steps to accomplish big things. And it is the small things that really matter.

Often when confronted with complex issues or monumental tasks we become overwhelmed. We don’t know where to begin, we have a hard time envisioning completion, and this can lead to procrastination or a sense of helplessness. But if we can take deliberate small steps over and over in the right direction, we can accomplish great things.

A great example of this is the work we are doing across the district with physical literacy initiatives. The big problem that seems insurmountable is a generation of children who are struggling to get enough physical activity, who are more sedentary, struggling with mental wellness, and are not getting enough sleep. So, we are thinking small! We are making and taking opportunities to move throughout the day throughout the district. The concept that all movement matters (not just the 60 minutes of sustained sweaty gym class) even a quick five minute walk or a brief class dance party or a one minute plank motivates people to participate in more physical activity in sustainable ways. Every bit of movement we do is adding to our health, fitness, and well-being. Small changes are making big differences.

A second example of how we are thinking small is with our school goal. Our focus is to increase students’ critical thinking competency, particularly their ability to analyze and critique. While the goal itself is big the work we are doing to achieve this goal is small and deliberate. Each day in our classrooms it is the small yet very thoughtful shifts to the questions our teachers are asking, the small adjustments to the tasks in which the students are engaging, and the small yet consistent routines the teachers are developing in order to develop the critical thinking competency of our students. Excitingly, when we start to see these small steps being effective, it fuels more small steps and success builds upon success.

Looking forward to the remainder of the school year I’m excited to continue taking small steps in our work around physical literacy and critical thinking. We are most certainly taking small steps towards completing our self-study in preparation for our upcoming IB evaluation next fall, and personally I’m really invigorated by the passion and energy I see in our students as they learn about and take action to combat climate change.

Small is mighty.