The art of writing lists – just four words to start flying

I’m off for a tramp this morning. (Hike). And last night, just to be on the safe side, I looked up the weather, the track, the type of terrain and checked off a gear list. It makes sense, doesn’t it? To be prepared just in case.

Then I thought about other lists and how they drive my life. On this second day of 2022 a lot of people may be checking off their first item, or abandoning the resolution list. But i have found that even the writing of a list sets an intention. Whether or not it is done today or tomorrow, or discovered again in a dusty journal in the future sometime, the list stands for a greater plan.

I am an advocate for change and my favourite way to make it happen is with a 100 day goal. Apply computational thinking and decomposition thinking processes and you can break up a big goal into 100 tiny chunks. Put them into order (sequencing) and you have an iterative process set loosely in place to refine as you go to make 100 small advancements towards the new goal.

There is an art to writing the 100 things and the first thing could just be writing a list….

Recently I packed up my office (starting a new job as educational facilitator guiding teachers again!) and the most interesting thing for me was not filing student work or emptying drawers, it was rubbing off the list I wrote on the wall when I first began.

It was a geeky list:


Computational thinking


Lean systems

That list was scrawled in blue whiteboard marker above a mini kanban which in turn was above a bunch of pinned papers and reference materials but I can genuinely say that the list on the wall guided me. When I was planning, when I was writing new assessment rubrics, when I was getting ready to walk into the classroom, the bold writing helped me to stay tuned in to the things I was/am passionate about.

The list of four words helped me to reiterate CT vocabulary in analogue contexts. Discovery at the centre reminded me to hold back and not steal the learning from the students in front of me. Play pushed me to be playful with my approaches and to remember that experimentation is necessary and vibrant even in planning. Lean helped me to be critical of anything that looked over-cooked and helped me to keep that lens for managing systems, giving instructions and labeling course materials. For me, these words did so much good just by being there.

My challenge now is which words will I write this year? And what about you? If you had to choose?

Te Ao Māori



Lifelong learners

(I am targeting my weakness with the first one and this is a call to action for me to look more closely at tikanga and local histories in everything I do. I want to remind myself that this is my passion (ikigai) and stay anchored in being research informed in order to make learners today capable as learners in the future). Big ideas – but just a little list.

What about you?

If you had to write the shortest list of ‘just’ four words to build in neon as a beacon to drive your pedagogy or your way of being in the world, what might they be?

Daily reminders and stickers are not just for kids. Could you turn 4 words into 25 micro actions each?

It could be that setting the intention and writing the list somewhere you can see it clearly is enough to get started on a journey somewhere amazing.

My ikigai is inspiring teachers and leaders to make meaningful change. I want people to get comfortable being uncomfortable and embrace the beautiful chaos of learning on the fly (and really flying). If writing a list could be a first step for you then I challenge you to write it.

What excites you about education today?

What do you want learning to feel like in your classroom?

Which 21st Century skill should be on top for you this year?

What might your next exciting inquiry be?

How do you want your learners to be in the world?

Make a start with four words and start flying.


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