#OneSong for 2016

There is a neat hustle that takes place prior to New Year’s Day. It reminds me of the closing of Side 1 of certain albums or the end of the first act of a musical or play. There is an intense flourish that transpires hinting at the promise of the next movement to come on the next album side or the next act.  For example, consider the carnival flourish of “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” on The Beatles’ “Sgt Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band” Album. It is the sound of promise.

The days and moments leading up to New Year’s Day have that same resonance. A stream of hopeful retrospection occurs. We cut up our past memories and future dreams into confetti to be tossed amidst the noisemakers and champagne bubbles at the strike of midnight. Our resolutions for the New Year are intact and we greet anthems of “Auld Lang Syne.”

In the last couple of years, many have adopted the One Word approach to greeting the New Year. This is based upon One Word by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton and Jimmy Page. (Mr. Page is not to be confused with the Led Zeppelin Guitarist.). The premise is to choose a word that will sustain and inspire you throughout the year. This is truly an inspiring practice. I learned about it last year. My hope was to reach a moment of clarity on a cosmic word for 2015. Unfortunately, that did not occur. I decided to stick with my standby, reliable New Year’s Resolution of not biting my nails. Of course, I did not keep that resolution at all.

Within the last few days, many #EduHeroes have written incredible blog posts about their respective One Word for 2016. I decided that this year I was going to come up with one. I had these visions of crafting a moving blog coupled with decorating my office door with my One Word prominently displayed. Somewhere in my principal mind was the germ of an idea for an activity using One Word for the first Faculty Meeting of the New Year.

All of these ideas were quickly conquered by my dutiful friend known as Fear. In having a mental jam session with my friend Fear. Fear told me that this was a meaningless task and that I would simply waste the faculty’s time in doing these hare-brained schemes. Fear was blunt in telling me that I spend too much time listening John Lennon and that this would be another failed “Kumbaya” moment as a leader. I was better off doing a medley of songs from “Godspell,” where I would have rotten tomatoes dutifully tossed at me.  I let Fear win the argument.

In collaborating for our next Twitter Chat known as #EdBeat with Natalie Krayenvenger (@NKrayenvenger), we were thinking of possible topics. It always goes back to music for us and we were riffing on a few ideas. We wanted to avoid doing a typical New Year’s Chat. At #EdBeat, we are constantly looking for ways to be different and unique.

Without warning during the course of our Voxer Conversation, the concept of One Song suddenly arose. I thought it might be inventive for our #EdBeat PLN Participants to come up with a single song to serve as their personal anthem for inspiration. Natalie and I made plans and placed our dream idea into a reality for our PLN.

Then, I decided that it was important to set the tone and model #OneSong. I had to pick my song for 2016. What was it going to be? What was going to be my anthem to help me overcome times of trouble? What key was going to uplift over the fears and doubts I allow to play me?


The word led me to the 1971 song by Pink Floyd.  I first heard it back in college during my WCUA Radio Days. My fellow DJ co-host Chris Fischer turned me on to this obscure gem by the concept album-wielding band. It is a song that I both cherish and avoid. The song is so obscure that Pink Floyd performed only once in concert.There are songs that haunt you. In fact, it closes with a recording of fans at a Liverpool Football Club fans chanting “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel.” This is one of them. For me the song is about facing your fears and overcoming the barriers built by those who negate hope.

I shared this concept with my wife and proceeded to play the song. Then, I read the lyrics aloud to her. I found myself beginning to cry when I reached the lyric this verse:

You pick the place and I’ll choose the time
And I’ll climb
That hill in my own way.
Just wait a while for the right day.
And as I rise above the tree lines and the clouds
I look down, hearing the sound of the things you’ve said today.

A chord had been struck. I did not want this to be my One Song. I was hoping to default to the stirring anthems of something like “Hey Jude” by The Beatles or “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder. Both are excellent songs but I kept coming back to “Fearless.” The past year has been rife with moments in which I have to tune into my fearless frequency. I made a willing decision to change schools seeking a new mission of challenge and purpose. Also, I conquered my fear of flying. I want to keep the momentum going for 2016. “Fearless” is my One Song.

As a Lead Learner/Principal, I find it is important to not only tap into your inner well of courage, but also to tune into the courage of others. Teaching, leading and learning takes courage in a climate where overwhelming odds and statistics dominate conventional wisdom. Being Fearless is an individual and collective journey in the school house. Empowering other teachers and students to create and innovate requires courage. Promoting a mindset of fearlessness is a collaborative act that has to be sustained and integrated in the schoolhouse. Ditching desks, leading a Twitter Chat, attending an EdCamp are examples of innovative educational moves requiring encouragement to stand fearless. Even taking on the celebration of Monday, the most reviled day of the week, in a schoolhouse demands all to stand Fearless.

What is your #OneSong for 2016?  What will be your anthem for inspiration? You are invited to join our next #EdBeat on January 27 at 8:00 p.m. EST to share.

Here’s a YouTube Video of “Fearless” by Pink Floyd: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrBGXbm4Rtk


10 thoughts on “#OneSong for 2016

  1. Fearless post. You are so real, thank you. Your openness builds such a strong platform for teachers/learners to stand on. Many administrators keep up this appearance of perfection that actually creates a rift between themselves and their staff. Keep building bridges and inroads into new territory. Your honesty and positivity instill courage to step out and try new things – even a focus word for the year.

    My word is faithful.


    • Thanks so much, Leigh! It truly is an honor to connect with and support you at JFK! You are truly making it happen and I am honored as always to be on the journey with you. Your One Word is awesome!


  2. So glad I stumbled across this! I am planning work with #oneword for my grade 7s this week. The #onesong is a great addition! Will let you know how it goes…
    PS -next year, I will do One word in September to set the tone for the school year 🙂


    • That is awesome Melissa! Please let me know how it goes. I think it’s very noble work you are doing for our kids. What an amazing activity for your 7th Grade Ss! They are very fortunate to have an #EduHero like you in the classroom. Melissa, you are truly making it happen in the classroom.


  3. Hey Sean,
    Fearless fits you well. Whether or not you have identified more with “fear” in the past, it is clear that you are fearless! I have observed all you have done since I stumbled on #EdBeat and I am in awe of your fearlessness. I’m sorry I missed the first chat on Wednesday, but I will be there next time. My word for 2016 is “ambitious” and by that I don’t mean the ruthless kind of ambitious, but the ambitious that helps me sets goals and get things done.


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