Friday, January 10, 2014

2014 Theme Song of the Week: Brave

This past week, my students reflected upon 2013 and chose their ONE WORD for 2014. One of my students chose BRAVE and set a goal to take more risks and try new things this year. Immediately it got me thinking about that new Sara Barelles song, Brave. This afternoon, I came home and watched the video for the first time. I have been trying to search for songs that fit with each of my students' words. The music video made my night! I am definitely going to play it for the kids next week.

This got me thinking. I think I am going to play a song each week that aligns with one of my students' words. A theme song for their 2014!

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year... New Outlook... My One Word (Well, actually two)

Wow... It seems like forever since I have been on here. 2013 just got away from me. Looking back now, if I had to sum up the year in one word.... It would be "OVERWHELMING." I realized that I was starting to feel burned out... Something very common in the world of eduction right now, no matter where you live. 

I decided a few days ago that 2014 was not gong to be a repeat of 2013, which is usually a trend that occurs every year. I always begin each new year with the same old itinerary of goals or resolutions. By February... those goals are out the window and I am already thinking about next year and deem yself a failure. This year, I have decided to move beyond this cycle and experiment with something called My One Word. It is a concept one of my collegues introduced me to as a great activity idea for our students. Not only am I going to run with it in my classroom, but I am going to practice what I preach and hopefully seek a bit of change in my own life this year. 

I first began by reflecting upon last year and the kind of person I was. I realized I was unhappy and stressed most of the time during the year. This obviously had negative impacts on everything in my life (relationships, teaching, not to mention my health and well-being). Next, I followed these steps from My One Word:

Step 1: Determine the kind of person you want to become

Step 2: Identify the characteristics of that person

Step 3: Pick a word

I had a difficult time settling with just one word, so being the over-ambitious person I tend to be, I picked two (I know, it kind of defeats the purpose of "My One Word," but for me this is a huge sign of progress). My two words for 2014 are BALANCE and LIVE

I have always struggled with balance. I think if you study the everyday lives of most teachers, your will find that that is not an uncommon problem. I am dedicated to teaching. Perhaps too dedicated. Teaching has, in the last few years, become my whole life. Everything else has kid of drawn the short end of the stick in my prioritization. I realized that if I am going to shake off the unhappy and constantly stressed person I have become, I need to achieve balance in my life. After picking this word, my next step will be to create an action plan, similar to setting SMART Goals. I will share my plan soon. 

This word kind of goes along with the last one. I need to enjoy life in the moment. I tell my students at the beginning of each year, to "Work Hard, Take Risks, and Make It Count," but I don't think I have ever lived by my own perscription. In 2014... That's going to change.

I am going to have my students follow the same steps I did above and they will all choose one word to reflect how they intend to improve their lives in 2014. Even though I teach 5th grade, I think this is an activity suitable and easily adaptable for any child or adult. The most important thing to remember and share with your students is to keep their words POSITIVE. I think it will also help to share your own personal journey through this process. I think it is important that they see the value in this and the fact that this is something ANYONE can do each year for the rest of their lives.

Good luck!