One Little Word

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Happy New Year, friends!

Several years ago I was inspired by Ali Edwards, and her One Little Word and started a New Year’s Eve tradition of choosing a word to live into for the upcoming year. The past few years have been framed around peace, grow, balance, happy and brave. I’ve found these words to be an overarching mantra for how I live my life that year.  I’ve thought a lot about my word for this year and I think I’ve found one that speaks to all aspects of my life – my teaching, my learning, my running, my relationships. That word is Now. 

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NOW. This moment is all we have. The word now inspires me to:

-focus on each child I am working with and pay attention to where they are right now; not where I wish they were, or where they need to be for the benchmark, or where they “should” be.

-give my full attention to the child I am with; not taking a picture or video or anecdotal notes or some other form of documentation, but fully listening and engaging with that child – making sure the child knows I am with them right now, and then after that moment I can record my thinking, but when I’m with a child – be fully present and with them right now.

-focus on myself and where I am and what I’m doing right now; not where I wish I was, or what’s on my to-do list, or what other things I should be doing, but focus on where I am right now and who I am with right now. Striving to be fully present in each moment makes me a better listener, a better teacher, a better friend, a better family member, a better runner and a better person. There’s a sense of calm and peacefulness in living in the moment, living in the now. 

-stop procrastinating. If I am living in a now way of thinking, I will do what needs to be done now, not later, or when I feel like it, or when I have a spare moment. I will take care of what needs to be done now. 

-put down the phone, the iPad, the laptop and be present to what is going on in the real world around me right now. I saw this video and it stuck in my head for days. How often do I pay more attention to my phone or device than what is going on in my world, or more importantly WHO is in my world right in front of me? It definitely made me rethink how digitally connected I am and how it may be more harmful than good at times.

As a reminder of my word, I am having a small necklace made with the word Now on it. My friend Jenny makes beautiful jewelry and I am excited to have a constant reminder of my word, and my promise to myself around my neck. It’s going to be a great year…starting NOW!

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What’s your one little word for 2015? I hope it brings you great things in the upcoming year.

PS – Here is the beautiful necklace that Jenny Nichols at Mountain Prima Donna just finished and is en route to me now. So excited!

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Recreating our Classroom Community in the New Year

IMG_4581It’s Sunday afternoon and here I sit, looking at my to-do list, planning for the week ahead in kindergarten, working on a presentation for later in January, checking Facebook…daydreaming out the window about how great the past two weeks of winter break have been. It’s a new year (on the calendar, at least) and I’m excited about seeing my kids tomorrow. I’m a bit worried too. While these two weeks off have been wonderfully fun and relaxing, well…it’s been TWO WEEKS OFF from school and routines for my kindergarteners. I know how important it is to rebuild our community, revisit expectations and routines and to make a plan for the rest of our year together. In a lot of ways, I see it almost like a second First Day of School. It’s a refreshing fresh start and a new beginning.

Tomorrow I want to be sure and listen to every child. I am sure they will be full of stories to tell and memories to share from their two weeks off. I don’t want to jump right into the new math unit or literacy unit of study right away. I want to make time to welcome the children back to our classroom family, to allow them to reconnect, play, enjoy each other, share their hopes and dreams for 2014 and to ease back into our routines and life in the classroom. I want to start our morning meeting by making a chart of “What kind of class do we want to have in 2014?” with the kids – creating a future for us together in the new year. I want to remember that community is at the heart of our classroom and when we’ve been apart for two weeks we need time to reconnect and recreate. What a fun opportunity as we return to our classrooms tomorrow! Enjoy the time with your students and I wish you a most excellent 2014!

What are you focusing on as you go back to school after winter break?