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One Word 2016; Empowerment

Winter break is typically a time when I allow myself to go into what George Couros calls, "airplane mode". I unplug and pull back the reigns on my social media interactions so I can read a few books, spend a few extra hours at the gym, and enjoy some recreational time with friends and family. My wife, Natalie, and I were sitting poolside in Jamaica reading on our iPads when a Twitter notification flashed on my screen; we weren't completely off the grid. My friend, Joe Young, was inviting me into a slow chat conversation. The prompt, in recognition of the New Year, "What is your #OneWord for 2016?" #OneWord2016

I momentarily swiped away Walt Longmire and Vic Moretti, characters in the newest Craig Johnson novel I was reading and took a few moments to ponder Joe's question. How can I boil down what's important to me in one word? I looked down and noticed a small tattoo near my shoulder. It's the Chinese symbol for learning, and it's the first word that comes to mind when I think about education. In my book, everyone is born a learner. So, what's my one-word wish for all learners? Empowerment




I've heard the word engagement used often to describe compliant students focused on their lesson. But, if our intention is to produce better learners, then engagement isn't enough. Empowerment supports the noblest of educational pursuits, the development of lifelong learners.


  • ENGAGEMENT = emotional involvement, or commitment; the state of being in gear
  • EMPOWERMENT = the giving of ability, enablement, or permission

Heutagogy is the study of self-determined learning. Knowing how to learn, specifically competencies and capabilities is a fundamental skill associated with empowered learning. Being a better, more empowered, learner is a personal goal of mine. My commitment for 2016, and beyond, is helping others become empowered as learners.

Take a moment to search hashtag #oneword2016 on Twitter. You will find powerful contributions from many inspired educators. Impact, balance, clarity, intentional, mindfulness, and reflective, are just several of my favorites. 


What's your one word for 2016?


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