2020 Visioning in Early Learning: My One Word for the Year

By: Diane Kashin, Ed. D, RECE. 

This past year has been a difficult one for me. Early in 2019, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Between surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, my year was about healing and recovery. Normally, I would have been traveling and presenting workshops to the early learning community. I missed this as working with early childhood educators has been what gives me joy in my chosen profession. The new year is a significant one for me. I am stepping into one of the best years of my life as a survivor. I am looking forward to my first two workshops of 2020 on critical reflection and visioning. In preparation for these workshops, where I will unveil the new me, complete with very, very, very short hair, I have been doing some deep reflection. My thoughts have been inspired by a few recent posts on Facebook that suggested that rather than making resolutions for the new year, to focus on one word. That one word will be your defining word for the year. It did not take me long to land on my word for the year: HOPE. I want to be hopeful personally and professionally. I have hopes for early learning and early childhood educators. Hope is my one word for 2020. What will yours be?

I hope that in 2020 more early childhood educators will find their voice. I hope that they will embrace a way of being that reflects a progressive, social constructivist stance. I hope that as a result schools and child care centres will become sites for “democracy, emancipation and potentiality” (Moss, 2015, p. 232). This has always been the hope of my professional lifetime. I am far from alone as Moss (2015) suggests “this has been the hope and lifetime work of many educators, past and present. One notable tradition cast in this mould has been progressive education. While it can be argued that progressivism is largely a product of the late 19th century … its roots go back much further to writers like Comenius and Rousseau, and its legacy remains a significant presence today” (p. 233). John Amos Comenius is a giant on whose shoulders I stand. His words are as relevant today as they were over 500 years ago.

“Comenius cherished the hope that the reform of education would bring about a reform of the world” (Sichodolski, 1970, p. 35). Comenius understood that children need to play in nature to learn. I am hopeful that in 2020 there will be a recognition of this for all children with early childhood educators leading the way. I believe that early childhood educators can be strong advocates for children and for themselves. I am hopeful that 2020 will be the year of the early childhood educator. I have always hoped for this. My doctoral dissertation, Reaching the Top of the Mountain: The Impact of Emergent Curriculum on the Practice and Self-Image of Early Childhood Educators was a hopeful endeavour. My research focused on case studies of four teachers at various stages of embracing emergent curriculum and abandoning themes. In 2007 I wrote these words about the experience.

I hope I have demonstrated an integration of voices. While my story coincides with that of the participants, I am conscious of not wanting my words to overpower the stories of the teachers who are actually working with children within a context that is isolated, marginalized, and undervalued. I would presume that their level of feeling speechless would be much greater than my own. I am, however, so closely aligned in my soul with the early childhood educator that I, too, have experienced the disempowering impact of being silent. Unlike any prior experience, this dissertation has given me an opportunity for voice. Working collaboratively with a thesis supervisor, an editor, friends, and the participants, my writing became richer as I socially constructed this dissertation. Correspondence received from my editor is evidence of the impact that social constructivism has had on my self-image and practice: The woman, whose voice was originally subdued, withheld, and tentative, has become an assertive, fully expressive proponent for her own research, insights, and point of view. And thrilling (I truly mean this) for me to witness the new you emerge.

Yes, a new me emerged with that experience but once again, I am ready and hopeful for new beginnings and new knowledge. I am going to go into the new year remembering that I can have an assertive voice. I hope I can continue to use it to inspire others. I hope that this blog post will give you, the reader, pause to think of your own word for 2020. I would love to read your words so please add them to the comment section below. To encourage you to add your one word for 2020, I will be doing a giveaway of a very hopeful children’s book, I Wish You More.

Some books are about a single wish. Some books are about three wishes. This is a book of endless good wishes. Wishes for curiosity and wonder, for friendship and strength, laughter and peace. I hope that this blog will become a source of endless words of hope. I wish you all hope for 2020. I am hopeful that you will share your one word for the year. I believe that our words will give us direction, hope and voice. Please share.

30 thoughts on “2020 Visioning in Early Learning: My One Word for the Year

  1. I am so happy for you, and sorry that you’ve had to endure so much. as an early childhood educator, I am endlessly filled with hope for many reasons, and you have chosen the perfect word for the coming year. my word for the coming year is ‘love.’

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Diane,

    I have to tell you that my word for 2020 is transformation. After 33 years of teaching, most of it in early childhood, I still long to see transformation on SO many levels. Honestly, I can say that I feel that we are further and further away from hearing the voices of children and early childhood educators in the United States. I am cocooned in my classroom where my toddlers happily and joyfully share their days and their ideas with me. I feel very blessed. I have such a happy and beautiful day, every day. Yet I know that when the children leave us they are encountering a whole different world where they will be expected only to listen and their ideas will remain unexplored. They will memorize what they should deeply understand through exploration. And on and on it goes. NOTHING has changed for kindergarten, and in our schools in general, in all these years. It is amazing to me and so very sad.

    Anyway, I apologize for the rant. I look forward to transformation this year. To deepening my understanding and to influencing the teaching of those around me through collaboration and reflection and respect. They are doing amazing and important work.

    Thank you for the work you do, Diane. Thank you for continuing to fight and for recommitting yourself to this work. You make. HUGE difference.

    Mary Lynn Gottler UM-Flint ECDC

    On Sun, Jan 19, 2020 at 5:49 AM Technology Rich Inquiry Based Research wrote:

    > dianekashin posted: ” By: Diane Kashin, Ed. D, RECE. This past year has > been a difficult one for me. Early in 2019, I was diagnosed with breast > cancer. Between surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, my year was > about healing and recovery. Normally, I would h” >

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Diane
      My one word for 2020 is “listen”.
      I’ve come across your words of wisdom and thought leadership today. I wish you wellness and I will follow along on your journey. You are reawakening the love of learning for all ages; connection to environment and belonging via indigenous story (all stories) truly resonates with my values and beliefs/professional philosophy. You give voice to self-directed learning…giving ‘wings’ to educators.
      Erika Schaab-Farrant
      Teacher Mentor NZ


  3. Wishing you well, Diane. Glad to hear you are moving forward with a sense of peace and a hopeful mindset. My word is “present”. Trying to stay in the moment and enjoy each one, or learn from each one. Often times we are powering through life with a look to what’s next. I am trying to slow my focus and be in the now, more. That’s why I love the outdoors. It is the only thing I have found that keeps me grounded amid the flurry of the every day.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful, inspiring words. My word for the past few years has been Intentional which I realize now I was limiting to my own actions: being more diligent about learning the curriculum I’m supposed to teach so I could use it in support of my students, choosing the experiences, words and approaches I took with the children I work with carefully and respectfully. I have realized that, to feel heard and to feel I am fulfilling my purpose, I also need to be more intentional about how I talk to the other adults around me with the goal of constructing a shared understanding of how to best serve the children we teach. Just doing what I believe to be best practices on my own doesn’t help build a community. So, thank you again for sharing your words, they have filled up my resolve and brought tears to my eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for this. I am sorry to hear how difficult 2019 was for you. I always enjoy your posts and this one is no exception. I have two words for this year: courage and kindness. Because they sort of balance each other out. Perhaps I will write my own post on this.

    I struggled in 2019 with the rift between my love for early childhood education and that state things are in right now. I’ve switched to casual as I am fortunate enough not to need to earn a large salary and I wanted to support the educators and early childhood centres that do not have any subs. I find myself working full time most weeks, sometimes I even split my time between centres. I wish ECEs could come together and make a greater difference. I’m in British Columbia where the government supports are coming but they aren’t enough. Spaces, beautiful child care spaces, have been created but the ECEs are not there to staff the positions. There’s so much work to be done.

    Thank you for the word: HOPE.


  6. Diane, I have been on a parallel journey this year with you. I was diagnosed with cancer in late January 2019, had surgery in March and started chemo until mid July. Like you, my hair has come in and through the journey my 2nd graders have brought me such joy and renewed stamina! Thank you for continuing to commit yourself to children and those who impact their lives. I plan to retire from classroom teaching in June after 30 years, but hope to use my skills to give back as a volunteer. Blessings and continued healing to you!


  7. Diane, I’m so sorry for the struggles you have and continue to endure. I wish you strength and endurance to plow through these trying times.

    My word for 2020 is “clarity”. I’m going through some personal issues as well as questioning my desire to teach. I need some clarity right now.


  8. Hi Diane
    I am so inspired by your work and more inspired as you shared your personal story. I wish you complete recovery. I love the word hope that you chose. That is what the world is striving for to find peace. The word I picked is INSPIRED.


  9. Pingback: Sunrise, Sunset: A Year of Hope for Early Childhood Education | Technology Rich Inquiry Based Research

  10. Pingback: Now What? Critical Reflection for Early Childhood Educators | Technology Rich Inquiry Based Research

  11. Sorry to hear of your struggle. Happy to know you are moving forward with hope.

    My word is “transforming”. How can we change education to help our kids stay connected to their learning and each other during these troubling times. We may be called upon to do face-to-face learning for a class of 15 to 30 kids, to support eLearning or both. How can we transform our practise? How can we better partner with families?


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