A Puzzling New Year

I’m a big fan of puzzles.

Give me a brain teaser, a number pattern, a rubik’s cube or some blocks that don’t quite seem like they’ll fit together and watch as I disappear until I’ve figured it out (this is why my wife no longer gives me puzzles as gifts). One of the puzzles I used to put on my classroom whiteboard for my students to consider was this:

Rearrange the letters in “new door” to form one word.

Some of you may know this one, but my students generally did not. They’d struggle for quite some time, looking for that perfect 7 letter combination, hence revealing their perceived problem solving skills and earning the accolades of me and their classmates.  Only the problem is, that perfect 7 letter combination doesn’t exist. The largest words you can make from the letters in “new door” are WONDER (as in, I wonder why he gave us this puzzle) and DOWNER (as in, this puzzle is such a downer). Here, instead, is the solution to the riddle.


The letters in “New Door” can be rearranged to write the phrase “One Word” instead of a single word. Once a student finds this out and reveals it to the class, the usual response is “Oh yeah. That makes sense. I wasn’t looking at it that way.”

My Two Cents On 2017

  1. If you haven’t spent any personal or twitter time with LaVonna Roth, I suggest you do so, soon. Her message, Ignite Your Shine, is exciting and inspirational and will point you in an excellent direction for the future. LaVonna recently posted this picture on twitter:


This, to me, is how we will connect our 2017 #OneWord to a #NewDoor

If you’re spending time figuring out what your #OneWord resolution will be for this year, think about it from this perspective. Does your word open a new door? Does 2017 take you to a new place, with new opportunities and new rewards? Maybe you should set a #NewDoor for 2017 instead. You see, the unexpected opportunities can throw a complete wrench into the #OneWord plan. Here’s an example. Screenshot 2016-07-29 at 1.50.37 PM

I did not have “Book” as my #OneWord for 2016. In fact, it wasn’t until the end of January that I connected with Dave and Shelley Burgess, leading to the writing and publishing of Instant Relevance. I had no idea that door was going to lead to me writing a book, speaking to teachers across the nation, and sharing my message with the twitterverse. But if I hadn’t let that New Door open and swing wide, I may never have had this great opportunity.

2. If you know anything about me from my blog, my book, or our conversations over the years, you know that I absolutely adore my wife. She’s always offering me new perspectives and approaches to life. Just the other day at the dinner table (same as the breakfast table, only later in the day), she asked our kids to pretend we were sitting at the table on December 27th, 2017, looking back on the year. She then asked, “what do you want to say you were proud of, excited about, or just loved about last year?” We went around the table sharing our hopes and dreams from the viewpoint that they’d already happened and we were now reflecting on them. The natural follow up question, of course, was, “what’s stopping you from going for those dreams?” I leave you now with that same question.screenshot-2017-01-01-at-9-13-21-am

Many of us may be entering 2017 Puzzled,

but keep searching for the New Door in your One Word!




Join me and many great educators every Wednesday at 9:30 pm EST for a quick 30 minute 3 question chat called #MakeItReal. You can read the archive here and if you’re reading Instant Relevance, share your ideas, connections and stories at the hashtag. 

If you’re interested in having me to your district for #MakeItReal training or other workshops, email me anytime at denis@denissheeran.com. 


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