The Path To My #onewordONT Goal

Today I felt inspired to blog. I’ve taken a little break from blogging — and really “academic life” — this week, as I nurse the holiday cold that so many of our students had before the Winter Break. I decided to enjoy this first snowy, cold week of holidays with many great books, lots of coffee, and time with family and friends (at least once the coughing stopped 🙂 ). Then this morning, I started out my day as I always do, reading Doug Peterson‘s daily blog post. From his post, I saw Julie Balen‘s one on #onewordONT words, and I was reminded that I’ve finally decided on my “one word goal” for 2018. 

Just like last year, I felt that it was reflecting on my last one word goal that led me to my next one. For the past year, I’ve spent a lot of time considering “perspective.” This word made it into many of my blog posts, and I think became a lot bigger than I initially intended. I think that “perspective” helped me better understand children’s actions, educator decisions, administrator choices, and even academic topics such as growth in reading. And it was my desire for a little perspective that led to a conversation, that a few weeks later, resulted in this blog post. 

This conversation is a hard one to write about, as I want to respect the privacy of everyone involved. Let’s just say that one day, I had a discussion with a colleague that made me start to question our play-based Kindergarten program and our interpretation of the Program Document. While I love our approach and have seen the benefits for kids, I thought about the contrary message that I heard from another educator, and I wondered if I was missing something here. So I took some time to think, I spoke to this colleague again, and then I asked if I could contact the person that shared this message to find out more. She agreed. And I made a phone call. When I phoned, I was tempted to start by sharing my perspective, but instead, I told her what I heard, and I asked her some questions. These questions changed things. They allowed me to find out more, see things differently, and end the discussion feeling as though the gap between our approaches was actually not much of a gap at all. 

Then I knew that the missing part to my “perspective goal” was questioningYes, I like to ask questions. Almost all of my blog posts are full of them. Kristi Keery Bishop, a principal in our Board, has taught me the value in asking and answering “hard questions.” And while Kristi (and others) have helped me get better at asking questions over the years, I think that I’ve somehow forgotten an important component of this questioning: to be truly open to the answers that come from them. 

  • I want to ask questions to inspire thinking.
  • I want to ask questions to inspire discussion.
  • I want to ask questions to find out more.
  • I want to ask questions that lead to problem solving.

I want to be authentic in the questions that I ask both kids and adults, and open to learning more from the answers that I receive. It will come as no big surprise to many of my blog readers that I often have opinions — sometimes ones that are contrary to popular opinion — and am willing and eager to share what I think. Colleagues know this. Administrators know this. Parents know this. Family and friends know this. My online social network knows this as well. And while I’m not opposed to sharing my thinking, I can’t help but wonder how much speaking up has caused conversations to end instead of begin (or continue). So I wonder about the impact of some well-phrased questions: will they lead to deeper discussions and future changes?

Let 2018 be my year of questioning, wondering, and ultimately finding out more! What’s this year going to be for you?


12 thoughts on “The Path To My #onewordONT Goal

  1. Great choice and love your reasoning Behind your choice. Great questions often lead to great answers, or if you’re lucky..even more and better questions! Have a great New Year’s and 2018! Take care of that cold!

  2. In a world where “fake news” is now a part of our vernacular, questioning is more important than ever. It is definitely a skill that we need to teach our students. I recently read a FB post from Kylene Beers and within it she shared how specific questioning can support, not only those who are struggling with health issues, but students who have yet to master reading. It was another reminder about the power of Good questioning. All the best for a great 2018

    • Thanks for sharing this, Sue! It makes me think of the focus on questioning that so many of us did when we started to explore inquiry with our students years ago. We talk to our kids about asking “good questions,” but I wonder if, as an adult, I spent as much time perfecting my own questioning skills. I’m going to do so now.

      Happy New Year to you too! All the best in 2018!

  3. That’s an interesting take that you have on things, Aviva. Thanks for including #TWIOE in the mix. I hope that Julie gets a great deal of action as a result of her post.

    You mention “questioning, wondering, and ultimately finding out “. Let me ask you a question – is “ultimately finding out” important for every question or wonder or inquiry? Does there always need to be a goal/conclusion? Or, can you be happy with just the journey that your question takes you on?

    • Thanks for the comment, Doug! You ask some good questions. For me, “ultimately finding out” doesn’t necessarily mean an end to the question/wonder, but instead, finding out more than I knew before. Maybe I need to word things differently. I do think that good questions inspire good conversations and some new learning. This may not mean a correct answer, but just something else — or something new — to think about.

      Excited to read about other people’s “one words.” Glad you included Julie’s post in your Friday one, and hopefully inspired some more blog posts as a result.


  4. Oh, Aviva! Questioning is a great word. I’m so pleased that it’s questioning in combination with listening (there’s another past word). Sometimes, it’s really hard to ask questions when we don’t really want to hear the answers, or if we’re afraid of them . I’m asking some difficult “why” questions right now in my world, and I know that to get anywhere, I’m going to have to do some learning about and listening to some tough answers. Looking forward to your learning.

    • Thanks Lisa! It’s funny, for as I was writing the post, I realized that listening and hearing really have to go together. Hope you have some good discussions around your “Why” questions. Questions really do inspire conversation.

      Happy New Year!

  5. There is nothing about your choice that surprises me. You continually question and wonder. ( and that’s a good thing) I wonder how your questions will be different this year than in previous years?

    • Thanks Sue! I do like to question and wonder, but I’m hoping my questions this year will be better ones, and that at times, I will be even more open to the answers I receive. I also hope that I will choose to lead with more questions (at times) versus opinions. I wonder if this will result in better conversations for 2018!


  6. Aviva, your word suits you as well as your students. When I browse your Instagram feed and listen to your conversations with students, questioning is such a priority for you, and in your questioning, I can see your gift to your learners: your respect for them, your intentional shift of responsibility, and upholding high standards for them (and yourself).

    • Thanks Colleen! At times, I think that I’ve improved in my questioning skills, and at other times, I think that I still have a long way to go. Recording so many of my discussions with kids, and listening back to them, gives me lots of opportunities to reflect.

      I also want to work on questioning in my professional dialogue with others. While I’ve been known to ask lots of questions on this blog, I don’t know if I ask as many when talking with others. I also wonder if I sometimes jump to sharing thoughts too quickly. Would a few more questions and some pauses lead to better conversations in the long run?


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