One Little Word (OLW)

One Little Word (OLW) to Inspire Your Students (and you!)






These are some of the One Little Words I’ve chosen to anchor and inspire the year ahead since I joined TWT in 2015. Each December, I would begin to think about what I needed and wanted in the upcoming year and the word that would help me remember those goals. This post ushers in December and the season of celebrations and reflections. This is the perfect time to think of your own OLW and also to think how you might share this with your students, encouraging them to select their own OLW. With December being a very full and busy month, you can take a little time now to plan for your OLW lessons when you return to school in January and a new calendar year beckons.

Selecting your OLW

If you are new to thinking of a OLW, you might want to peruse the TWT archives to see some of the words the co-authors have selected through the years. Last year, I chose CREATE as my OLW and shared my thinking here. You can get as fun and creative as you like when thinking about your OLW….or you can keep it simple. Some people have created playlists on Spotify or Youtube that have songs or videos that connect to their OLW. Others have made Pinterest boards for more inspiration. You can make your OLW your screensaver or set an alarm on your phone to stop and think about your word and how it has guided you (or not) that day. You can share your word on social media with the #OLW23 or other variations (#oneword2023, #onelittleword) and read how others are thinking of their own OLW for the new year.

My process has been to start brainstorming words that feel particularly important at this time in my life. In 2016, I chose the word “HAPPY.” My grandmother had passed away at the end of December and it was a very sad time. She had always modeled a happy perspective and often bought me the Clinique perfume “Happy.” It felt like a joyful way to honor my Grandmother by looking for happiness despite the sadness my family felt. Another year, I chose “DO.” I felt called to action – to DO the things that needed to be done instead of lamenting all the reasons they couldn’t be accomplished. I haven’t selected my word for 2023 but I’ve started making a list of words I might need more of: peace, steps, savor, connection, focus…(I’ll keep you posted!) I’ve found that when you start thinking about possible words, the word meant for you almost finds you! You start seeing it in more places and it becomes ever more clear that the word will be yours to cherish and nourish in the months ahead.

Bringing OLW to your students

When you and your students reunite in January, it is a meaningful time to talk about our goals for the year ahead. You might want to share the picture book One Word for Kids by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton and Jimmy Page. You can share your chosen word with your students if you deem it appropriate. To spark conversation about selecting a OLW, you could share the following slides with your students:

Students can make posters for their OLW or make digital creations on Google Slides or Buncee. They can write letters to their families, explaining why they selected their word and what it means to them. Each month, you can ask students to reflect in writing on how their OLW is helping them or reminding them of what matters.

Have you selected a OLW in the past? Do you plan to choose a word this year? Will you share this tradition with your students? Please share your ideas the Comments!

3 thoughts on “One Little Word (OLW) to Inspire Your Students (and you!)

  1. I have chosen a word since 2014 and have had students pick many years also. For the last few years, I have had them choose one at the start of the school year and in January revisit- keep or change. It has been a great end of semester reflection as we write reports.


  2. Kathleen, Thanks for this post. I have already picked my OLW for 2023. It came to me as I perused the MudLove website. There they have bracelets with words. I usually order a bracelet for myself and pick out ones for friends. Probably not what it’s all about, but they seem to appreciate it. The first week back after winter break, my students choose a word and create a Canva design with a poem. Sometimes they choose to do an Acrostic about their words. I’m bad about the periodic check-in as the year progresses. Thanks for this reminder.


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