An educator I respect offered the challenge: come up with one word that will inspire you in 2015. I thought, at first, it would be easy. It wasn’t.
I’m a first year principal at a dynamic middle school. I work with some amazing teachers, I am blessed by students who are interested and interesting, and I have a parent community willing to engage in their students’ learning and our school in positive and productive ways. So… what word?
My first thought was “kindness.” It’s a word I use a lot, try to model, and love to encourage. As a single word to describe what inspires me, I thought it might fit the bill. But, I stopped myself, what about academics? Would it be remiss of me to leave out the stated purpose of education?
I tried “rigor,” but found it too strident. “Accountability” felt too jingoistic. “Connectedness” didn’t exactly capture who I am.
And so I went for a walk, separated from the question for a bit, and came up with this: “Curious.”
As a person who loves to learn and loves to be a part of the learning at my school, I realize that for students to be engaged, for teachers to be passionate, and for that spark of learning to take fire, curiosity has to be present.
How does that chemical reaction work? What did Emily Dickinson mean when she wrote that? Why did the Constitutional Convention make that decision? It’s the questions that take teaching and make it learning. It’s curiosity that inspires knowing.
In 2015 I want to do everything I can to promote curiosity in my students, my teachers, and my school community. I want to model curiosity, and publicly learn.
As a word of inspiration, “curious” reminds me that I need to continue to learn, and embrace the many questions that I don’t yet know the answers to. It prompts me to look at the world through the eyes of a student, and model lifelong learning in what I do every day.
As an added bonus, I like the other meaning of the word, the way it might be uttered by Sherlock Holmes to describe something strange and interesting: “What a curious adventure, Watson!” I like that inspiration can mean taking a different and unexpected path.
In a word, that’s what I want for 2015.