I’d rather be a lion than a sheep #oneword2016

This post feels a little confused, messy and unfinished. In keeping in line with my word and how I see it, I’m ok with that. I just needed to get a few ideas down to kick things off and give me a focus and somewhere to start.

This one word challenge has been a struggle. To come up with just one word for what is starting to seem like the busiest year of my life sounded CRAZY! I had so many words flying around in my head that I couldn’t hear myself think. The advice was to wait and leave if for a while, the word will come to you eventually. So I did. I thought I had my word. I sat on it for a good three weeks and to be honest it sounded good but I don’t think it truly reflected what I wanted to say. So, I waited some more and as the end of January approached (after a particularly overwhelming week) I finally had my word…Courage.

I see courage as doing something different, putting myself in that space of being comfortable with being uncomfortable, to have the confidence to act on my own beliefs and sometimes feel the fear and do it anyway. To feel courage is to feel empowered and to empower others. It’s about being a lion and not a sheep.

My Journey in teaching has mostly been in positions where I have been isolated and by myself. How stoked was I when I landed at Aotea at the end of 2014- Such an amazing group of people that I have formed very close bonds with. Losing some of our incredibly valued HPE whanau last year has probably been my biggest challenge so far in 2016. It has been hard for me to ‘let go’ of what used to be. I think the only thing that will get me there is time and the knowledge that even though I no longer work with these amazing educators, they will always be whanau.

The new year has come with new challenges. With 5 new people in our department including a new HOD and 4 first/second year teachers, it’s going to be a very busy, exciting, enlightening and I imagine sometimes chaotic year. The newbies are a great bunch of people and I’m looking forward to working with them throughout the year. We are currently learning more about each other, building a new culture and starting to form new relationships.

Personally, I’ve never been one to follow the norm. I’ve always tried to do what felt right instead of what was popular, no matter what. Professionally, I can’t quite say the same. It can be hard to go against the grain in an institution. Over the last year I have improved a lot in this area but feel there is still more work to be done. Last year I wrote about stepping out and stepping up- with a new role in the department I feel this is an opportunity for me live this Mantra and encourage and empower others to do the same.

There are goals a plenty for me this year and I’ve made the effort to place importance upon the personal as well as the professional. Last year didn’t go so well in terms of finding a balance between the two. The list is huge and constantly changing. It will continue to do so as I learn and explore the areas of my life that I value. These are my goals that have the most meaning right now:


  • See my family more and spend time with people who are important to me
  • Spend time in and on the water-my happy place!
  • Complete a half marathon (even I think this is crazy!)
  • Explore and enjoy the outdoors more for myself, not just for school


  • Make learning visible in all levels of HPE
  • Build a solid foundation with the new team- relationships are key!
  • Develop my leadership philosophy
  • Work with a colleague to develop a ‘pineapple chart’ to be used across the school

I would really like to keep the blog going and the EdBlogNZ challenges are a great way to keep me on track (even if I am a week late with the first one!). When I was first encouraged to start writing a blog and being more active on Twitter, I was scared. Scared of what others would think and say. There is still a small part of me that thinks this way and so I will definitely need a good dose of courage to break through the doubt. One strategy I’ve applied this year is to promote the use of Twitter and blogs to other teachers at school- If I’m encouraging them to do it then I definitely have to do it myself.

I’ve also signed up to do the Postgrad Certificate at The Mind Lab starting in March. Having not undertaken any formal learning like this since graduating from university, it is both scary and exciting at the same time. I’m sure there will be the odd brain explosion but I’m definitely looking forward to it and buzzing about the chance to make new connections with some awesome Wellington educators.

Although my #oneword2016 has only been mentioned a couple of times in this post, everything I have written is going to take a lot of courage to start, develop or complete. I can sometimes be afraid to try for the first time but I’m not afraid to fail. Some things won’t work and that’s ok, as long as I persevere and don’t give up. Something I have chosen to help keep me directed, focussed and grounded this year is my favourite book. It always makes me feel better about life and brings out a strong courageous feeling in me. The quote from the last page (below) is exactly how I want to live 2016. If you haven’t read Oh, the places you’ll go by Dr. Seuss yet, I would absolutely recommend doing so. It’s also a great story to read to your students as they move onto the next chapter in their life.

be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!”





About Jo Smith

Health & PE teacher and TIC Outdoor Education at Aotea College.
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2 Responses to I’d rather be a lion than a sheep #oneword2016

  1. Nathaniel says:

    Thanks for sharing your #oneword2016 and your goals. I think many of us would like to become more comfortable with the uncomfortable (I know I would). Looking forward to reading how your courageous journey goes this year.

    Get on your way!

    – Nathaniel


  2. Pingback: Term 1 #OneWord2016 reflection (plus a bit of #edsketch16 too!) | EDVENTURENZ

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