VISION #OneWord2020

January 2020

I leave behind a decade, but I refuse to not look back. When we look back, we reflect upon what worked, what didn’t, and what worked but needed tweaking. I look back, not with rose colored lenses, but with a clear view behind me of some huge successes, and some failures that were equally large. I see a career that has moved from a kindergarten, to first grade, to fifth grade teacher.  I see my own three children rising from a couple feet above the ground to closing in on my own height and one now towering above me. I see a family that has grown stronger in spite of job losses, yes plural, and job changes that brought our vision into clear focus of what matters most. I see a love for my husband that has deepened every day of the last ten years we have shared together, and I look with anticipation of the next ten years alongside this man, who seems to not see the wrinkles, gray hair, and age spots I have added to my reflection that I continue to see in the mirror. I see 232 students upon my roster, whose names and lives I will forever see upon my heart.  As I look back, I see the past decade moving forward pushing to this goal of reaching into 2020 and nudging me to look ahead. I look ahead with hope. I look ahead with lenses of wisdom that help me to see things a little broader and clearer than before.   

Photo by Golnar sabzpoush rashidi on

As I stand in this current space in time, I look in front of me, with a renewed hope to see what is right in front of me with 20/20 vision, able to see what I haven’t before. I seek to see the life in the darkness. I seek to see the strengths over the weaknesses. I seek to see the solutions before the problems. I seek to see the best in everyone I encounter. This is my VISION for 2020, and this is my vision for my present and my future. 

There are times, I may need correction to my life’s lenses, and my “bottom hands” are given full invitation to call me out on what I don’t see, and help point out the life in a situation I may overlook. When I get narrow in my vision, and look back at my mistakes too long, I ask them to remind me to tilt my eyes forward and keep plodding along. When I look for the pat on the back from others instead of from The One who gave me the vision, I invite the hands that hold me to adjust my vision. I seek to hold hands with those who do not see what is in front of them, along with those friends who do not need their vision enhanced, and lean into collective efficacy, with a broadened VISION for the life that 2020 holds.

Looking ahead with hope,


Thanks to my sis (who I affectionately call Super Sister) for the inspiration of my #OneWord, along with faithfully being the one who calls me out on looking back and looking “small” too long. My VISION is more clear because of your influence in my life.

#OneWord2018 in Reflection


As I reflect on the seminal events of 2018, I  hold my #OneWord2018, fire, dear to me, and feel that it served me well, but it did not start out with strong hopes.  

The year began with me finishing my winter break, and with new year voracity, I proclaimed my #OneWord2018 to my #PLN on Twitter with excitement and high hopes, but to my chagrin, a series of events left me wanting to rethink my word.  My son wanted to warm the house and build a fire for us while his daddy was at work and we were soaking up the last of our break from school. Realizing we were out of kindling, he decided to put his chopping skills to work, and the hatchet found his hand instead of the wood for kindling.  This led us to the urgent care for stitches to ring in the bloody new year. Just a week later, school was back in session, and I needed to get a meal together quickly. The ignitor was out on our grill, so I had to manually light the grill using a lighter, which is not something you want to take too long to do. Distracted by my phone call, I lost track of how long I had spent between turning the propane on and striking the lighter, flames jumped out of the grill several feet, and singed the front of my hair and the sweater that I later had to toss into the trash.  My hair was pretty trashed, as well, but I had to remedy that problem in another way, so I donned some bangs for a few months. It seemed I was taking my #OneWord2018 too literally, so I inwardly pledged to keep the rest of my “fire” commitments to an emblematic sense, and I believe I managed to do so!

The year dawned, with Victor Hugo’s words ruminating about my mind, “To learn to read, is to light a fire; every word spelled out is a spark.” To light a fire I did, as students made leaps before my eyes and made the quantum jump from the stuttering stage of pre-phonemic blending to emergent readers in a matter of months, and the fire was almost palpable.  In May, I left this fire to be tended by other educators, and passed the torch of early childhood onto my most trusted peers, and prepared to step into a new flame for the upcoming school year, which I quickly learned must be tended to with great care, because the retardants of life were trying to squelch these flames quicker than I could kindle them. I accepted the position of a fifth grade reading teacher, and discovered many a ember, barely still burning, and began to gingerly blow on these flames, trying to arouse the desire to read within students’ hearts who had succumbed to the cold ashes of life as non-readers and forsaken the hopes of literary flames as not for them.  Some students, it seemed, had no desire to light a fire to learn, when they were still trying to find the warmth of food, shelter, and belonging. In my zeal to light their fire to learn, I have to help them first learn that they belong and that they matter. I do not hold optimism with ignorance, because I am aware of the daunting challenge before me. Witnessing the pain of this emptiness again and again is a blow to one’s own fire, but messages like this student’s keep my flame burning.

Not all of the fires were dim, thankfully, some students came to me already on fire for learning, and we fed on each other like wildfire. My own fire burned brighter than ever, as I encountered many readers who came to me with flames already burning brightly, and my task was to increase their impenetrable energy.  

The flames of teaching have nearly burned out in my own life in years past, but have been burning stronger than ever since I became a connected educator.  On days, where every setback brings a cool rush of despair, I know where I can go to fan the flame in me. I am especially thankful for my friends on Twitter and my #PLN, with whom I connect daily on Voxer through #4OCFpln.  I met this fiery league of colleagues through a series of book studies, #2MenAndABook, led by Matthew Larson and Ricardo Garcia on Voxer, where a band of educators unite with the common goal of becoming stronger for the students we serve through literary discussions and burning up the status quo.  These friends have all found the fuel of connection, and fan my flame daily. If I did not have these connections, I am certain that in my aim to teach with passion, I would lose all of my breath fanning my students’ flames, and my own fire would turn in on itself until ashes to ashes, I would fall down. My fire will burn brightly with me as I embrace 2019 with the tenacity with which I warmly accepted 2018, and the year goes out as we step into 2019, but this fire will not die within me.  


Jessica Chandler