By Fran Siracusa
A little over a year ago, two close friends of mine encouraged me to contemplate putting into words my “why” and my “one word.” This task was not just another New Year’s resolution, but became an impetus to internally rejuvenate my life journey with passion, energy and focus. What purpose did I seek in my personal, professional, and spiritual life? How could I do better?
It is now January of 2017, and I observe that my context has expanded from last year. In 2016, I was mobilized to pursue engagement of self and others, as expressed in a Cold Play song: “We are diamonds taking shape.” My one word was “reflect,” but not in the passive definition of “pondering” one’s past actions. Instead, I aimed to interpret the word “reflect” to denote signification like “echo,” “mirror,” and “resound” with the illustration of children reflecting their unique personalities and energies upon one another.
Throughout my professional endeavors last year, I developed global projects and activities where human beings could connect with each other in meaningful ways. Opposite of “one size fits all” conference sessions, I involved international classrooms of students in active learning during “presentations” by utilizing the Google Hangout, Kahoot!, Padlet, Buncee, video, and sketching applications, within unique projects that culminated in a live broadcast and participatory activity. I personally introduced a young student entrepreneur from Kenya who is making strides combating water scarcity to six international classrooms. She and I later invited these students to spread global awareness, turning the students into teacher-learners, exponentially educating others through the use of social networks. I facilitated global challenges involving mathematics, science, art, design, and communication. With unfaltering fervor, I focused on connections-based learning and a personal approach where peers could explore and express themselves first individually, but also within a mutually respectful community, leading to global integration of voice. As demonstrated, within professional and personal circles, I have always amplified the importance of active participatory processes and creativity. Similarly, Daniel H. Pink conveys the same message in his book, Drive: “Like young children… we are not destined to be passive and compliant. We’re designed to be active and engaged.”
Along the same vein of emulating energetic and extraordinary experiences, my one word for 2017 is “exemplar.” By modeling superior behaviors, projects, conversations, and goals, perhaps other global citizens, including educators and students, will take risks and serve the greater good. Just like family members who help each other with household chores, so should society members value one another and take responsibility to contribute to the collective unit. Perhaps, these members will grow to embrace challenges, remain empathetic, organically care for the whole community, and participate with amazing approach.
In my role as Educational Technologist for Calliope Global, or volunteer at St. Cecelia School, as a mom to two impressionable teenagers, or a friend to countless international companions, I always aim to live well, be grateful, and model kindness. I create conversations, engage in champion ventures, and stand alongside the vanguard of global cooperatives and colleagues so that students in global classrooms, as well as my own two children, will view the world through a global lens. I model learning tasks where students can be autonomously curious, risk-taking, creative and productive. I encourage my cohorts to strive to create unique advancements; equivalently, my “EduPals,” “EduHeroes,” and students inspire me with their triumphs, and I am blessed to stand alongside as co-learner, coach, and/or guide. Most likely, it was my experience at a Montessori school that strengthened my belief that learners should be autonomous; undoubtedly, it was my multicultural upbringing and religious training that move me to consider community service as the core of humanity, and that all learning has real-world purpose.
I choose to surround myself with extraordinary people, who wish to cultivate our relationships. I choose to empower students and educators to take part in a global conversation about kindness and responsibility; I also choose to conscientiously set up students for success. I choose to volunteer in the collective movement to make the world a better place. I choose to respond to a call to action to accomplish difficult but worthwhile global goals as an exemplary advocate. I choose to do what is best for children, and our planet, and be an exemplar. Follow my lead, and in 2017, let’s mobilize as exemplars to connect, create, inspire!
What’s your #OneWord2017? Please share with me your thoughts because I would love to continue the conversation and further the “ripple effects.” Shout out to Buncee for developing such an engaging creativity tool for students and me! #weheartBuncee