Three Words 2015

With gratitude to Rob Hatch and Chris Brogan (Rob reached me first this year), I am reminded of Chris’ three words exercise. The idea is to consider your upcoming year (or your past year perhaps), and choose three words to remind you of your life and professional goals. I did this exercise a few years ago and posted it on my fridge, and it was very useful. I want to try it again for 2015. Although I am not what most would consider an “owner” in the sense of owning my own business (Chris and Rob’s professional focus), I intend to own my practice and work this year, more than ever before.

I started a non-profit in 2013 dedicated to open education, education as a right, and research into emerging models of personal and informal learning. It was called Wide World Ed, and I am considering laying it to rest this year. While on the surface, it may seem that Wide World Ed was not successful (certainly not fiscally or sustainably), the lessons I learned, and the community of like-minded thinkers I encountered and grew to know, were and are priceless to me. I can only hope that I have shared and supported them as much as I have received and been supported.

2015 brings exceptional change to me and my family. I have moved home base (to Phoenix, Arizona from Toronto, Ontario). I have accepted a full-time role with an innovative team at Arizona State University as an Instructional Designer (my joy and bread and butter of life). I will be applying for, and hopefully beginning, additional formal learning in an Ed.D (Doctor of Education) program. This change positions me as a practitioner-researcher, and this new pervasive personal concept is relevant to my 2015 words.

Nurture. I love this word, it is front-end-loaded with complex and loving meaning for most people. In 2015 I will nurture…my self (I have not listened to my body and mind clues about health, wellness and personal joy), my sons, my husband, my dog, my family, my friends, my colleagues, strangers that I encounter and come to know. I am a nurturer by nature, and I’m going to follow that nature and see where it leads me this year.

Detect. I wrestled with this word for a while. I was looking for something like witness, observe, research, explore, in the most thorough possible way. When problem solving, or researching just for the joy of it, I want to be extremely thorough and extremely creative. I was called to my love of detective stories (starting with Nancy Drew when I was very young).  Detectives are very observant, very thorough, and very, very creative. They’re also a little bit nerdy, introverted, and live on the fringe of social acceptance. They are persistent and resilient, they get to the bottom of things. They seek and listen to clues. They discern what is, and what is not relevant to their work. Detectives sometimes do their work to seek justice (in my world that often skews to social justice), but sometimes just for the sake of personal satisfaction with a puzzle fully puzzled.

Advocate. As a follow-on to detecting, researching, and exploring things this year, I’m certain some solutions and good ideas are going to emerge. As with nurture, there will be an aspect of self-advocacy in my year. When I discover what routines I need to establish, what changes I need support to implement, I will need to advocate for myself with my family and co-workers. This is not an area of strength for me, I will need to do some serious training on it. In a professional sense, I have some well-developed personal values about education as a global right for all humans. These values, and my ideas about how to design and deliver education, sometimes come into conflict with the wonderful reality of diverse workplace perspectives. I am a passionate advocate. However, in order to be an effective advocate, and in order to influence change that I believe will serve learners and teachers, I’m going to have to temper my passion, and listen more than I speak. I am always deeply thankful for diversity, learning from it makes me a better person. I will become a more effective advocate, in all contexts of my personal and professional life this year.

What are your words? I’d love to learn from you.


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