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One Word Theme for the School Year


Agree or Disagree? September is the new January!

For me, this is definitely TRUE. I always feel energized and inspired to start fresh come September, even in the years when I haven’t been teaching. It just feels like a fresh start, a perfect time to set goals and make changes. In many ways, I find I’m more motivated and successful with my “blank slate” in September than I am in January.

September is the perfect time for teachers, especially, to look ahead to how they want the next year to look.

Do you know Gretchen Rubin? I’m kind of a super fan. I love her books (affiliate links) The Happiness Project, Happier at Home, and (my fave) Better than Before. They’re great audiobooks if you like to listen to book. And I listen to her podcast faithfully. Gretchen shared the idea of the “one word theme” awhile back and it popped into my mind a few weeks ago when I was thinking about the new school year. “I need a one word theme!” I declared.

Choosing a One Word Theme

Choosing a one word theme might come easily. Or it may take some thought. If you’re struggling to think of a theme, try thinking of what you want MORE of in your life. Laughter, joy, peace, mindfulness, reading, music…whatever you’re wishing for more of might guide you to your one word theme.

My one word theme came to me very naturally this year. When I thought about current situation and what I wanted to do to preserve calm and happiness, my one word theme was obvious.

My One Word Theme

The word I chose is: intentional

For me, intentional means:

  • being intentional about what I commit to (I can’t do it all!)
  • being intentional about what I choose not to commit to (it’s ok to say no!)
  • being intentional about why I do things (don’t jump on the bandwagon unless I believe in it)
  • being intentional about the media I consume (avoid any social media that adds negativity to my life)
  • being intentional about what I allow to detract from my family time (and intentional about how we spend our family time)

In teaching it can be so easy to feel like you have to do what other teachers are doing. I often find myself saying, “Oh wow, that teacher is so incredible. If she does that, then I have to do that to be a good teacher.” When I stop and really think about it though, I don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. That’s not what makes me a good teacher. I’m a good teacher if I choose what’s best for my students. I’m a good teacher if I completely commit to a few amazing educational ideas this year, rather than half-heartedly commit to everything. And I’m a better mom if I am intentional about how I spend my family time and don’t overcommit myself at school. When I’m intentional about my commitments, I preserve my energy and motivation for what matters most to me.

That’s what intentional means to me.

The same word could mean something completely different for you.

Do you see September as a “blank slate”? What is your One Word Theme this year? I would love to hear your ideas!


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After a combined 14 years in 2nd grade, sisters Heidi & Emily are passionate about helping simplify life for other teachers!

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