I’ve seen quite a few posts – both on Twitter and in the Facebook groups that I follow – about 2019 recaps, all posts involving reflections of that individual’s year.

Reflection should be standard in our teaching practice – and in life. We ask students to reflect on their learning. We ask them to see where mistakes were made and encourage them to correct them. We ask them to critically think about issues – both inside and outside of the classroom. We ask them to provide feedback for their peers – and even their teachers. We ask them to think about what challenges they faced in their learning of a particular concept – and how they might envision tackling that the next time they’re faced with a similar challenge.

My “one word” for 2019 was fearless. This time last year, I had made the promise to myself that I would be fearless – more fearless in my profession, more fearless in my personal and home life, and fearless in the personal endeavors that I held close to my heart (for instance, my writing). In reflecting upon my past year, I would say that I rose to the challenge of that one word.

My #OneWord2019 was “fearless”

Professional Development
In 2019, I attended and presented at seven conferences, including local CUE affiliate conferences, Spring & Fall CUE, and the CA STEAM Symposium. That was approximately 16 different presentations – which doesn’t even account for the after-school professional development I provided to the staff at my district. I traveled all over the state of California in pursuit of my professional learning. And to think I – an introverted, homebody – would have the courage to step out in front of my peers and talk about things that I’m fearlessly passionate about…this wasn’t even something I dared to want for myself two or three years ago.

Professional Learning
2019 also brought new opportunities – like the opportunity to start a Twitter chat with friend and fellow special education advocate Karyn Fillhart. I am an avid follower and participator of Twitter chats; I also moderate CUE Los Angeles‘ monthly Twitter chat as our Communications Editor. But I wasn’t finding chats that addressed what I am most passionate about – the teaching of diverse learners in the classroom (meaning SPED, ELLs, Gifted & Talented, etc.). Karyn & I created #SpEdTechChat as a means of bridging the conversation between our two biggest passions – EdTech and special education. But, really…it’s a chat for ALL educators because ALL students are diverse learners in that each student needs/requires and is entitled to an education tailored to them.

Professional Writing
CUE has been such a constant in my life – it’s given me the opportunity to connect with other educators, network, and grow my PLN through my attendance at both local and national functions. But CUE has also helped grow my voice. This past year, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to continue on as one of CUE’s Social Media Champs. Through this program, I’ve had the opportunity to share my own work and voice through OnCUE, as well as amplify the voices of others in the educator community. I’ve learned more than I ever thought I would need to know about marketing tools, social media strategies, and “behind the scenes” CUE. It’s been such an honor to grow with the support of CUE and its leaders. I look forward to another term of doing just that with CUE’s SMCs.

The “one word” concept isn’t just a gimmick – it’s an entire mindset. It’s a call to action – to you and FOR you.

As you decide your one word for this new year (and subsequently, new decade), I encourage you to reflect back on the things you did this year…the things you didn’t do but wanted to do…or the things you couldn’t ever picture yourself doing (yet!). Let your word push you outside of your box. Let it propel you towards decisions and opportunities you didn’t dare to dream for yourself.

I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed come December 2020.

About Kristin Oropeza
Kristin is a full-time special education teacher, contract consultant, and educational content writer. She is a Google Certified Teacher (Level 1 and 2), Google Certified Trainer, and MIE Expert for 2020-2021.