Family is my #oneword2021

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December 27, 2020 by Dr. Robbie Barber

My #oneword2020 was ‘Explore‘. Turns out to be the right word, though perhaps not as I had envisioned it. I did, in fact, complete my dissertation (yeah!) in April, 2020!! I helped run an online conference. I presented online at ISTE and GaETC. I did not explore the opportunities I was thinking of last December, but exploration can go in many unexpected directions. All in all, it was a word I referred back to and let it give me the direction to move forward in 2020. A successful #oneword.

I was sure my #oneword2021 was going to be “Adventure”. According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word ‘adventure’ involves excitement and risk. As a noun, it is an exciting or remarkable experience, usually involving hazards or risks. As a verb, it is to take risks or proceed despite the risks. (Citation: “Adventure.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Dec. 2020.)

I was looking forward to the things I would do in 2021. But, I realized that 2020 was becoming a bigger sacrifice. My family with our children in three different states around the country decided not to gather for Thanksgiving with all of the warnings. Instead, we looked ahead and said the last two weeks of December would bring us all together. It was a lovely idea, just not very well thought out. And in the end, only one child who could safely quarantine and then drive home alone in December, came to visit. The reality is that 2021 will start out looking very much like 2020. I am amazed at the scientists around the world that managed to create vaccines in record time. But it will take time to produce the quantities needed world-wide. And distribute those vaccines. And arrange for those who receive them first, second, etc. Plus, the current two vaccines require two shots, weeks apart. And, an important note is that the science of the COVID-19 vaccines is on preventing serious illness. It did not explore whether or not the vaccines would prevent spread of the disease. While we are still in risky times, I don’t think ‘adventure’ will move me ahead.

I need a word that I can focus on. A word that helps me move forward. With all of the other words jangling around like “reconnect” and “perseverance”, I realize that the word that will move me forward to my next destination is “family.” Family means “spouse and children”. It also means a “group of people related by conviction or common affiliation”. (Citation: “Family.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Dec. 2020.) I miss my family, my children, my colleagues, my students, my friends. I miss my Family.

Family moves me forward. Every email I send is a way to connect with my Family. Every meeting is an opportunity to say hello to my Family. Every time I attend an online conference, webinar, or training, I am looking for things to help my Family. My blog posts during the summer (#8WeeksofSummer blog challenge) were a way to connect with more people. It’s more than a #PLN. It is people I care about which includes those I may never have met. I am not alone, but part of a larger family group that lifts me up.

The pandemic has given us some opportunities to connect with family farther apart. We’ve navigated how to have online meetings and online social times. My mom (in her late 80s) can now FaceTime and Zoom with our family. My high school students have finally found their school email (unused before) and can communicate more widely. My teachers have been using Google Voice to talk to our students and parents more. Our Tissue Tabloid – the bathroom newsletter – is now emailed weekly (instead of hanging over the toilet paper) to the enjoyment of most of our teachers. Our online classrooms will not disappear at the end of this current crisis but become a part of the school structure, that connects us 24 hours a day/ 7 days per week. After all, we have now found a way to post information and calendars, distribute assignments, and collect homework.

Will I travel in 2021? Oh, I hope so! I want to visit family – my children, my friends, my colleagues. I want to go somewhere I’ve never been. I want to go in-person to a conference again. I want to share a meal in person and enjoy time together. After all, we are family.

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