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Kathleen’s OLW for 2017



One Little Words (OLWs) sometimes find you, as if it were meant to be.

It’s been such a pleasure to wake up each morning this past week and read what my co-authors have selected for their One Little Word for 2017. Each word seemed to perfectly fit the person who selected it. In case you missed it, Lisa selected Breathe, Melanie chose Brave, Beth picked Empathy, Betsy found Step, Dana realized her word was Us, and Deb’s word, Bombas, was relentless until she agreed to make it her OLW!

As for me, sometime in December, the word “audacious” popped up in my consciousness. I looked it up, I searched for images and quotes related to being audacious, then…I hesitated.  Google offers two definitions of “audacious.” The first one says, “showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks.”  Synonyms listed include “bold, daring, fearless, intrepid, brave, courageous, valiant, heroic, plucky.” (I especially liked plucky, as it called to mind one of my favorite heroines, Anne, from Anne of Green Gables!). The second one is “showing an impudent lack of respect.” While I knew that audacious could be considered disrespectful or rude, this was not what I was going for. Would selecting audacious as my word call to mind the negative connotations? I tried to think of another word, but AUDACIOUS stayed in my mind.

AUDACIOUS felt like a big, bold word, a word that would encourage me to live a more daring, more sparkling life. AUDACIOUS is all about being confident and going for it. It’s about being the best version of myself, unapologetically.

My word was solidified after watching Noah Geisel on Matt Miller’s #DitchSummit (If you missed this incredible week of PD, Matt is graciously repeating it from January 12-18th. Be sure to check it out!). Noah Geisel was the closing speaker, and he used the word “audacious” several times during the session. Since I’d been thinking so much about making audacious my word, it really stopped me in my tracks. I had to rewind and listen again, a few times. At one point, Geisel said,”It’s really important for teachers to give ourselves permission to be audacious.” I thought…YES! It called to mind a passage I read in Dave Burgess’ Teach Like a Pirate (2012).

Dave wrote, “Do you want to be great? When I ask this question in my workshops, it is most often met with awkward silence, nervous shifting in the seats, and avoidance of eye contact. Why is it such an uncomfortable question for teachers to answer?…Could it be that wanting to be great seems egotistical or selfish? Let’s destroy that idea right away. First of all your greatness in the classroom doesn’t negatively impact or inhibit anyone else’s opportunity to be great. This isn’t a zero sum game. The pie is infinitely huge. In fact your greatness only enhances the opportunities and possibilities for others. By being great, you are raising the bar and providing a model for others to emulate. Being your best possible self contributes to school culture necessary to create the environment for greatness to flourish” (145-146).

This passage has pushed me to strive for greatness. In the last year, there have been some awesome opportunities that have come my way. I have said “yes” to these opportunities, but on the inside, I’ve often felt unworthy, like a fraud or an imposter. Like, if they really knew me, they wouldn’t want me to teach the class, lead the workshop, publish the blog post, be on the podcast… Who am I to do any of these things? What do I really know? So, while I have taken on new challenges, I have often done so with a negative soundtrack running through my head, on repeat.

Some un-audacious things about me:  I am a chronic apologizer. And I’m also the first person to tell you all the things I am doing wrong. When someone offers me a compliment, my first reaction is to tell them all the reasons why I am not worthy of it. I love sincerely offering compliments to others and appreciate so much of what other people do, but when it comes to myself, it’s often hard to accept. I cannot accept the compliment without a disclaimer of all the ways I am lacking.

Being a teacher and a mom, I try hard every day to convince little people that they are destined for big things, that they are worthy of goodness.  I want them to shine and I do my part to help them see their amazing potential. But my dawning realization is perhaps it’s okay for me to shine, too? Maybe standing in the shadows, feeling unworthy of the warmth of the sun is not the way I want to travel through life any longer.

Here’s the thing- I’m 37 years old. A wife and mother to two children. An experienced teacher. A blogger. A hard-worker. And I’m done apologizing for being passionate about teaching and learning. It’s time to start believing in myself and to shut off the negative self-talk.

My One Little Word this year is about having faith in myself and confidence in my ability. It doesn’t mean I believe I don’t have more to learn-  I know I do- but it is acknowledging that I DO know some things, can speak from the heart about what I’ve learned and be authentic. It’s about dreaming big and working hard and going for it, without apologizing for myself, or putting myself down for working towards these goals. It’s allowing myself to feel proud of the contributions I am making to my profession.

I’ve created a Youtube playlist of songs that will help me feel AUDACIOUS when I need a boost…I hope this might help you, too, to be your most audacious self! I think we are worth it.

(Thank you to all the friends who recommended empowering songs for this playlist!)

Have you selected your OLW yet? Please share it with us and on Twitter with #OneWord2017.

21 thoughts on “Kathleen’s OLW for 2017 Leave a comment

  1. How Audacious of you to choose Audacious! A good start to yet another powerful year for you. I’ll just join the chorus of your fans on this site and say it’s an empowering word that you will undoubtedly grow into as the year unfolds. We believe in you!


  2. What a fantastic word to choose! I always feel like my OLW is like making a big purchase. Will it fit? Will I still like it in 2 weeks, 2 months, 10 months? Is it the right shade? etc. You have thought about all these questions and answered, YES! I’m looking forward to seeing you live audaciously this year. 🙂


  3. Kathleen~
    I AM IN LOVE with this post, your word, and this playlist!!! Like Vivian, it’s taken me a few year longer than you to realize my acceptance of my hard work and passion does not take away from others! As Dave so said SO well-
    …” your greatness in the classroom doesn’t negatively impact or inhibit anyone else’s opportunity to be great. This isn’t a zero sum game. The pie is infinitely huge. In fact your greatness only enhances the opportunities and possibilities for others.”



    • Thank you so much, Deb. Dave’s words were really eye opening for me and so true. I am so glad you appreciated the post and like the playlist! I loved your OLW, bombas, and the idea of service to others.


  4. Oh my gosh! What you described sounds exactly like what goes on in my head! Thank you so much for sharing. Congratulations for realizing and owning your greatness at age 37. It’s taken me a bit longer–age 54–and still learning.


    • Thank you Vivian! It’s good to know I’m not alone in how I feel. I know there is a lot more to learn in this area and I hope choosing “audacious” is a good first step to living a bigger, less apologetic life!


  5. Wowza! I didn’t expect to wake up with teacher tears in my eyes this morning. You are such a powerful writer and I love the voice you bring to this message. Thank you for the opportunity to be a small part of your journey and for sharing it with others who may be inspired to follow your lead!
    – Noah Geisel


    • I’m so honored you read the post and commented Noah! Thank you. Listening to you speak on #DitchSummit was the moment I decided “audacious” is just what I need to be. I am grateful for the words you shared and the kindness you showed by reading and commenting!


  6. Kathleen,
    This sounds like a word that is going to take you places! You are such a terrific supporter of others. I am glad you are going to focus on believing in yourself as much as you believe in others.


  7. I love your choice- lots of your reasoning is similar to my thinking for my word, brave. I LOVE your soundtrack and will listen to this on repeat. I need to figure out how to make a YouTube playlist. You are a shining example of audacity (in the best possible way) to me already, so I can not wait to see what you bring to 2017!


    • Thank you, Erika, for always being such a supportive friend! Making the playlist was surprisingly easy….you just click the + button that says “Add to” under the video and then create a name for your new playlist. Once you have then came, when you click on the + sign, you just select the name of your playlist and it is added. I’m glad you like the Audacious Playlist I made! I am honored you think I am already audacious and now hope to live up to that. 🙂


    • Fight Song is such an uplifting, inspiring song! I hope that you are in good health, Lisa, and I will think of you now when I listen to that song. I appreciate your comment so much.

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