Michelle Boyd Waters, M.Ed. | December 31, 2021 6:00 am

You can search all over LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Google. Teachers are looking for jobs, new careers, even to start businesses. They are doing what was unthinkable just a few years ago: Quitting at the winter break.

I know this because I am one of them.

My good fortune has been two-fold. During my last semester of teaching, I worked for amazing administrators who were incredibly supportive in the face of my sudden health problems and pending graduate school deadlines. Because of them, I was not only able to graduate with my master's degree in December, but also able to use my sick days while my student teacher took exceptionally good care of my class.

Additionally, I have a side hustle, an educational publishing company I founded in 2017, that I am turning my attention to full time while serving as a graduate assistant so that I can work on my doctorate. I am continuing to focus on education — but doing so from a research, development, and entrepreneurial standpoint.

Which brings me to my Word of the Year for 2022: Reinvent.

Word of the Year 2022

The best word of the year is a verb

I like to choose action words to be my words of the year because these words, much like resolutions, don't mean anything if I don't do anything. Noun, like transformation or reinvention sound nice, but don't really inspire action.

Words of the year, much like resolutions, don't mean anything if I don't do anything.

Michelle Boyd Waters, M.Ed.

I thought about transform, empower, or thrive, but those sounded much the same as my 2015 word of the year. I wanted something that not only evoked the idea of achieving one's goals, but transforming or changing to do so.

Perhaps I'm going to age myself here, but I kind of thought a bit about Madonna. I remember, several years ago, reading about how she had reinvented herself several times over the years to remain relevant in an industry which favors the young and innovative. (For the record, I thought about using innovate, but that reminds me of teacher evaluations and how in many districts it's completely impossible to hit that level since it would require administrators to fill out more paperwork.)

For some reason, that snippet from the article stuck with me and I think about that when I've had to change how I teach to reach a specific student or group of students, or when I've switched careers in the past. (You can listen to my story about past careers in my new business and lifestyle podcast.)

Choosing your word of the year for 2022

Before you choose a word, I recommend you read “Here's How One Word Can Change Your Life in 2022.” The author, Minda Zetlin, recommends asking yourself four questions as you seek your word for the year:

  • What do I need–not want, but need?
  • What's in my way?
  • What has to go?
  • What needs to be done in me and through me?

I had pretty much already decided my answer to these questions before I chose my word. I knew it was time to leave the classroom. As much as I'm already missing my students, I know I can serve them better from the outside by supporting younger, more energetic teachers like my student teacher. I can continue the research needed to shift their paradigms beyond just what the learned in college. And I can also support and work with teachers like me who have decided transition out of the classroom and take an entrepreneurial journey.

Ask yourself those three questions. Then start a list of words that pop into your mind. Google the words to see what they actually mean and what kinds of websites show up when you search for them. Which word speaks to you the most? That is your word.

I'd love to read about your journey to discover your word of the year for 2022 in the comments below.

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About the Author

I chose to proactively retire from the classroom teaching and share my gifts in a different context. I'm a damn good teacher and I'm tired of working within a frustrating system that won't let me do what I know is right. So I'm taking my business full time -- and I'm still educating, still making a difference in the world. And I want to help you do the same.

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