Being AWESOME is a Choice

This came across my Twitter feed this morning:

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It gave me pause to think about what it means to be “awesome.” Originally a word that appeared in the Oxford Dictionary in 1598 to mean awe-inspiring, awesome became an overused slang term when it was found in the Official Preppy Handbook in 1980. We now use the word awesome to describe just about anything.

So…what does it mean to be awesome – not just in slang, but to actually be awe-inspiring? And how do we reach that potential every day? Here are my daily goals in an effort to be AWESOME:

A – All

There are students and staff that we connect with better than others. But to be awe-inspiring, you have to find a way to to build relationships with all of them. It doesn’t take much to reach out and ask a question, give a compliment, tell a joke, share a laugh, or listen. We must do this even with the most challenging, because sometimes they are the ones who need us most. Each week I talk to students who look lonely, those who visit the office a lot, those who look like they are creating something unique, and even the ones that are laughing and having fun. And I pride myself in knowing something about each staff member as a way to connect and build a relationship. Every student and staff member deserves to feel like they belong and are loved within the school community.


W – Wonder

There is wonder all around us. I try to look for it as much as possible. When you live looking at things differently, like everything is a miracle, the world looks different. I’m constantly in awe and wonder of people, events, and things around me. But beyond that, wonder is also a state of curiosity. It’s asking questions and looking for the answers. It’s looking at life as if it is a riddle to be solved. I live with an insatiable curiosity as to learn as much as possible to be better, do better, achieve, and make an impact. I know that the possibilities for me, and all of those around me, are endless.


E – Empathy

I feel empathy is something we are severely lacking right now in this world. The ability to understand the feelings of someone else is not an innate skill. As humans, it’s easier to focus on how we are feeling than people around us. Empathy help us to make better decisions. It helps us support each other as members of society. Empathy helps us understand rather than judge. But just a word of caution with empathy: it shouldn’t cause more sadness and/or anger. In fact, empathy should have the complete opposite effect. It isn’t about retaliation, but about making time in your day and a place in your heart for someone else. I’ll be honest, while empathy is not the the thing that comes easiest for me, every day I consciously work on seeking first to understand.


S – Speak up

The skill of speaking up and being honest has never alluded me. 🙂 When we stay silent, there is perceived approval of what is being said. It is important to make sure people know you, to share your unique perspective, to stand up for what you believe is right. Some are afraid to have their opinion be heard or speak against what is being said. That fear comes from believing that we are alone in how we feel, even though more often than not there are others who feel the exact same way. Although it is essential to listen, it is just as important to speak up and have your voice heard. And let it be heard not just on behalf of yourself, but on behalf of those that you serve and that serve alongside you.


O – Opportunity

In everything that happens, looking for opportunity is the key. It’s easy to see opportunity when things are going well, but it’s more important to look for opportunity when we are in a difficult situation. Seeing the silver lining amongst the storm clouds. And expanding on this theme, seeing opportunities is only the first step. You also have to be able to decipher which opportunities are worth it, weighing risk vs. reward. I look for opportunities every day – for it affects my creativity, innovation, and impact.


M – Mirror

It’s hard to look in the mirror. Yet, in order to grow, we must reflect. We must look at ourselves first. What can we do to change, to improve, to be our best? Instead of pointing my finger at someone else, I first point it at myself. I hold myself accountable to my own high expectations, leading the way for others to pursue excellence as well.Even with all of the efforts I have listed above, in the end, I really only have control over myself and my actions. I choose to put all of my energy there instead of worrying and talking about others.


E – Encourage

Finally, I believe strongly in encouragement, praise, and appreciation. We all need a little help to get by in this thing called life. You never know what people are going through. Giving the gift of hope, support, or even confidence, could mean all the difference to someone, for both child and adult alike. Often as life gets busy, we forget to encourage those around us, and this may be the time they need it the most. Kindness goes a long way. Challenge yourself to give it more than you receive it.



Although some days are more difficult than others, these are the things I strive to do each day, and I hope that other people in my life see how I choose to use my talents to be AWESOME. The world, our communities, our families, our districts and schools, our colleagues, and our students deserve our best. Each of us have that ability – to use our talents and strengths – to achieve greatness. So…what does being AWESOME mean to you?


About amyarbo

My name is Amy Arbogash and I am currently the Director of Technology and Personalized Learning for the Verona Area School District. I have five years of prior experience as a Technology Integration Specialist at Bay View Middle School in the Howard Suamcio School District. I also have an additional 11 years experience in the 5th and 6th grade classroom at HSSD prior to my work as a specialist. Throughout my years in the classroom, I taught every core subject area and students from all backgrounds. I am a Google Educator in Google Apps and Chrome, a national speaker on educational topics, a teacher and leader at heart, a tech nerd by practice, and someone who thinks she can move education forward. This blog is dedicated to the students, parents, colleagues, friends, and family who I have learned from and been inspired by. You all have and continue to make me a better person. All blog posts and opinions expressed are my own.
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