2020

One Word 2020: Voice

Our voices are powerful things.

Whether we express them verbally in person, through our words in writing, or any other mode of communication, they hold weight.

They can be used to spread joy and positivity or to breed a negative message.

In either case, they have great power.

I was reminded recently of a TED talk where Clint Smith discusses the Danger of Silence. It reinvigorated the idea that our voices are valuable. That they matter. That they are necessary.

We need to use them. We need to amplify them. We need them to make great change.

I’ve spent a lot of time this past year learning about the inequity that exists in educational system. I’ll be writing more about this in 2020, as my study has led to some deep reflection on my own involvement and the perpetuation of inequitable practices through silence.

Oppression wants us to be silent. It grows from our silence, becomes more widely believed and more fiercely held on to.

Inequity exists because of silence. Whether people were forcefully silenced or they chose to remain so, silence allowed the roots of inequitable practice to take hold and grow.

The only way to combat injustice, oppression, inequity, or any harmful practice is with our voice. We must voice our discontent, our anger, and our hurt.

But our voices aren’t reserved solely for this. We must also voice our joys, our celebrations, and our successes. We need to share these out with pride and we need to ensure our positivity comes through as well.

Amplifying the voices of those who would otherwise go unnoticed matters, too. And we can use our voices to empower them, lift them up, and encourage them to share their own.

To affect change, we have to use our voice. Having conversations, even difficult ones, even ones that push us far outside our comfort zones, is necessary for growth. Valuing the voice of another, truly taking the time to listen and learn, sparks our own evolution. We then need to share this learning, this growth, with others. Use our voice and inspire them to adapt, to grow.

We also need to use our voice to challenge. Challenge the status quo, professionally and personally, and do what’s best for our students, our mental health, our educational system. It’s not enough to just “close your door and do what’s good for your kids.” This is a fantastic start, a great way to begin, but eventually we must voice the benefits, the value that comes from our approach. When something is harmful to our students, we have to use our own voices to challenge it. To change it. To make it better.

Voice is a powerful thing.

In 2020, I want to use mine to share new approaches to education, promote more equitable practices, connect with and learn from amazing educators, and write more. I want to amplify the voices of other educators who have greatness to share. I want to continue cultivating the voices of my students, teaching them to express themselves via writing, and empowering them to have a voice in their learning. And I want to use my voice to build up those I love, to support them and celebrate with them, and grow with them.

That is why my One Word for 2020 is voice.

Happy New Year to you and yours.

4 thoughts on “One Word 2020: Voice

  1. WOW! Thank you for sharing the Clint Smith TEdtalk. While at NCTE, I went into the Barnes and Noble and he was presenting. He is simply a genius poet. His phrase from the TEdtalk “microphone under my tongue” stays with me as I think of your OLW – voice. You describe so well why and how you will use your word. I predict 2020 is going to be a spectacular year for you!! I am so glad I got to meet you at the TWT dinner and attend your NCTE presentation. Know that I’m a fan and will be listening to your voice in 2020!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree w/ all you’ve said here, but I do look forward to hearing how you’ve practiced these ideas. It does sound as though you’re planning to be a voice for the voiceless in 2020. As someone who was a very shy person w/ debilitating stage freight but who made a career of teaching students to lift their voices, and as someone who doesn’t shy away from speaking up and out, I admire those who take the risk and do the same. It isn’t easy, but it is our responsibility.

    Liked by 1 person

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