Tag Archives: OLW

My 2018 OLW

2 Jan

I always tell people that my New Years is in September, when the new school year starts. It is, but I do like the tradition of a One Little Word for the new calendar year. it gives me a chance to reflect on 2017 and the first 4 months of the school year, and make a course correction.

I feel as though I went to extremes in 2017. I felt extreme emotions. I hope I didn’t manifest it publicly, but I felt myself roiling inside at times, which is very unlike me. When I relaxed, I hibernated. If I watched a TV show, I watched the entire series.

So, in an effort to pace myself, my OLW is


We have all been told “Moderation in all things”, usually related to food. In 2018 I want to strive to achieve this in many aspects of my life, but in a reasonable way.  Wish me a moderate amount of luck!


Reflecting on my OLW

23 May

My One Little Word for 2017 is


Have I stretched myself? At first glance, I think not. I feel as though I’ve just been rolling along. But with deeper reflection, I can say I have:

  • I’ve pressed myself as a teacher of writing, trying new moves
  • I’ve tried out some new organizational strategies to be sure I conference with everyone
  • I finally joined a book group
  • I am trying to keep a writer’s notebook (still a work in progress)

There are a few other smaller ways I’ve stretched myself, but these are the most significant. The is still more than half a year to go. I can keep working on these and, maybe even stretch myself in other ways I haven’t thought of yet.

My OLW hasn’t made me a new person – that wasn’t my goal. But I feel like I have stretched enough to grow.

My One Little Word for 2017

3 Jan

For me, most of 2016 was excellent. Last week I reflected that I was ready to emerge from the cocoon of contentment. I had an idea for my 2017 OLW, but I needed THE WORD. As I was working though my new physic routine, it came to me:


Some of my exercises are to strengthen muscles, but others are meant to stretch parts of me that have atrophied. I am supposed stretch far enough that I feel it, but not so far that I re-injure or cause new damage. And that is precisely what I want to do.

As an introvert, it can be uncomfortable to stretch beyond my comfort zone. But I rarely regret doing so. And the buoyed confidence that results is empowering. I have some events coming that will stretch me:

I am a Cybils Audiobook judge for the first time. I know how to evaluate text and I know what I like in audiobooks. I get to learn how to blend these skills.

In three weeks I will go to the ALA conference in Atlanta and begin my term on the 2018 Sibert Informational Book Award.  My experience on the Morris Committee was excellent and a good introduction to ALA book award committees. This committee will require more work and more meetings, but I am excited to begin.

As I filled out my 2017 calendar earlier this week, I could see the  year is laid out before me. I want to meet  whatever challenges and opportunities the year brings with a cheerful and eager heart.

Reflecting on my 2016 OLW

27 Dec


My One Little Word for 2016 was contentment.  As I sit on my sofa, snuggled next to my dog, Lucy, sipping tea and listening to the radio, I exemplify my wishes for 2016. In January I wrote:

I am an introvert by nature and I think a lot of 2015 put me out of my comfort zone. I had to be more extroverted than I am by nature. I want to reclaim my introversion and just be happy with what I have, where I live and work. I am sure I will find something that will catch my fancy and will let it sweep me up, but for now, I am content with life and I just want to embrace that for a while.

2016 has let me be. There were no major catastrophes. No family or pet deaths, like there were in 2015. No job changes. I have had time to become a better 6th grade teacher and no longer feel like  the newbie at school. This unruffled year of contentment has allowed me to grow.

It is lovely to have vacation at the end of the year, but know that this little cocoon I have wrapped myself in since school let out will end soon. And I am ready for that. I am ready for what 2017 will bring and for my new OLW. I’ve been thinking about it, maybe too much. but I have an idea of the butterfly that will emerge from the cocoon of contentment.


17 May


My principal spent part of a day last week, stopping in each classroom to let teachers know where they’d be next year. My team isn’t changing and it is the first time in 5 years, I am staying put. Same room, same curriculum. That’s not to say I won’t do some things differently next year; it will be fine tuning rather than radical change.

So, it seems to be a good time to reflect on my 2016 One Little Word: contentment. In January, my rationale for choosing this word was this:

Having worked hard to “get what I wanted” I want to take some time to relax and enjoy whatever comes my way. Although I greatly enjoyed serving on the Morris Committee, I want the serendipity of reading whatever I find at the library. Now that I have the job I sought so actively, I want to enjoy being that teacher.

I am an introvert by nature and I think a lot of 2015 put me out of my comfort zone. I had to be more extroverted than I am by nature. I want to reclaim my introversion and just be happy with what I have, where I live and work. I am sure I will find something that will catch my fancy and will let it sweep me up, but for now, I am content with life and I just want to embrace that for a while.

We have 5-1/2 weeks of school left and I am feeling very comfortable in my new school. I embraced my new job, letting is sweep me up and it has been a good year. Contentment implies a simplicity and an ease of mind. As the year winds down, I am not worried about where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing in the next school year and that definitely brings me peace of mind.

SHIFT: A year of a word

29 Dec


Last New Year’s Eve, I wrote about my One Little Word for 2016: shift. I wanted to change jobs, be a more creative teacher and embrace the instructional changes happening in my district. I was looking forward to a year of exciting work on the Morris Award. Now, two days short of a year, I want to reflect a little on the shifts I’d hoped for and the unexpected shifts that happened.

I am thrilled by my new job. I was very disappointed two years ago when I wasn’t hired to teach at either of the middle schools where I interviewed. I don’t really believe in Destiny, but it feels as though I was destined for the job I got. It is that good a fit. I work on an excellent 6th grade  team and we gather every lunch period and eat together. I share the teaching of the Humanities with another teacher (we each get half the kids on our team for a two-hour Humanities block). This could be tricky, but Nina and I work incredibly well together.

The instructional shifts that were happening in elementary are also happening in middle school. In the summer, I attended a TCRWP inservice as middle school teacher shifted how writing instruction was happening. The 6th grade teachers at my school made this our learning team project and we’ve been working through TCRWP’s Units of Study. It’s been work but we are learning how to make it fit our kids.

I am wrapping up my Morris Committee work by rereading our five finalists. I will go back to work for only four days next week, then go to Boston where we will decide on the winner. It has been an incredible year. I’ve met great authors and committee members. I’ve thought about literature in a new way. I will miss the work, but I am looking forward to some free range reading, too.

Last year I was a round 2 YA nonfiction judge for the CYBILS Award and I will repeat that again this year. The finalists will be announced on January 1st ad that’s when my work begins.


Some unexpected shifts happened. I lost my dad in late July and my dog, Fiona, in November.


I’d hoped Fiona would make it other 15th birthday in February. And you always think your parents will live forever.

I wish everyone a very Happy New Year. Best wishes for 2016!

OLW….the quarterly report

20 Oct


My One Little Word for 2015 was shift.I had three main areas where I planned for shift to happen:

I want to shift the way I think about my job.

We are talking about instructional shifts at school.

I will shift the way I spend my free time.

The new job: You know the old saying  Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.  Well I got my wish. I moved to middle school and it has been a natural fit. I feel challenged and exhilarated.

Instructional shifts: Middle school is also working through some instructional shifts, specifically around writing. These don’t seem like shifts to me because everything is new to me this year, but some teachers across the district are struggling. We are using the TCRWP Units of Study and all the 6th grade teachers at my school are on board. This is my professional learning community and we are helping each other out with the implementation of Units of Study. You can see why this has been a good shift.

Free time: I’ve read mostly debut YA this year, but as the deadline for our shortlist arrives (Nov. 30 for committee members, public announcement in early December) I’ve been reading more variety. As I anticipated, I haven’t knit much this year, but I picked it back up last week, beginning the first of my Christmas knitting project. I read over 70 books for the Morris Committee, a job I have loved. It will be hard to say goodbye to that commitment, but it does open up some time for me to do other things. Things, like knitting, I’ve put aside.

Will I choose  a new OLW for 2016? I don’t know. This year’s word didn’t guide me, as much as it gave me a focus for my reflection. Maybe that is enough.

The Big Shift

2 Jun


On New Year’s Eve day, I decided that my OLW would be SHIFT.  My post included this

I want to shift the way I think about my job. I’ve had 4 jobs in 4 years since the library job was eliminated. This is the year I plan to make my final shift. Either I will get a middle school job, or I will shift my thinking about being an elementary school teacher and stay there.

Well, sometimes, shift happens.

It didn’t look promising. I asked for a transfer, but when transfers were announced in late April, I didn’t get one. Although, alter last year’s unsuccessful attempts, I had vowed never to interview again, I decided to look at  job postings and apply if something looked interesting.

Sure enough, something interesting came up right away. My former teaching partner had an 8th grade Humanities position open on her team. I applied, her principal asked mine some questions. But no interview was forthcoming.

The following week, a middles school I was interested in posted three humanities jobs. Although I had interviewed there unsuccessfully last year, I applied to all three.  The posting closed Monday. I was contacted for an interview on Tuesday. They were interviewing Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday after school.  I chose Friday. I didn’t want to stew about it all weekend.

I did all this without telling my teammates. I had informed them last year and it worried them for nothing. This year, figuring my chances were slim, I decided to tell them only if there was something to tell. So I snuck my interview outfit into my classroom and changed in the adult bathroom in a different part of the school before slipping out, unnoticed, on Friday afternoon.

There were ten people on the interview team. There were no outrageous questions. I told them about myself, my philosophy of teaching reading and writing, how I develop class rapport, what I know about teaching the gifted and how I contribute to a collaborative team. I was in and out in 30 minutes, which I took to be a bad sign.

On the drive home, I was convinced I had bombed. Again. I spoke too fast. My answers were too general and not specific enough. I didn’t say some of the brilliant things I had rehearsed in my head.  I would really never interview again.

Wednesday, my principal informed me she’d had a reference call. Could it be?

Thursday I had a message to call Human Resources. HR does everything by e-mail. The fact that a person wanted to talk to me could only be good. I called. no answer. Called again and left a message detailing when I had lunch and plan time. They called back during lunch and offered me a job teaching 6th grade Humanities in their program for the highly gifted.  I guess my interview went better than I thought.

Telling my team was awkward, but it went better than I thought. Last week, I told my class and the news when out in the school newsletter.

We have nine more days of school.  The goodbyes are a few days from now, but I’m not thinking about that yet. At this point, I am still floating on air.

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