by Maurna Rome
This year I resolve to forgo the typical New Year’s resolutions. Truth is, they rarely make it past Dr. King’s birthday in mid-January. Beginning this year, I’m committing to a much simpler idea. It may seem trendy with a lot of recent hype, yet a quick Google search reveals a 2007 blog post by Christine Kane introducing the idea of a “one word” resolution (you can even download a free “Word-of-the-Year Discovery Toolkit”). In the past eight years, the concept of narrowing down all those soon to be forgotten New Year’s resolutions into a singular word has erupted into a major presence in the world of Twitter, published books, and blog posts (see list of resources at the end of this article).
The more I think about it, the more I like it. After a bit of reflecting, it was easy to choose my “one word.” It encompasses all aspects of my life… teaching, learning, family, home, health and friends. It’s a theme I believe in, one that could propel 2016 into a stellar year.
As I think about applying this “one word” concept to life in the classroom, I am drawn to consider the challenges and rewards that I experience each and every day and also how it might impact my students’ learning. The double-sided coin of teaching and learning must be examined. My colleagues and I encounter the heart-tugging, tough questions, along with the nuggets of gold offered by our students, and everything in between on a daily basis. As we think about our approach to literacy instruction, we must also take our students into account.
My reflection on a “one word” choice for 2016 included:
- Do I collaborate with my team effectively, and enough, while also maintaining my sense of uniqueness and spontaneity?
- Am I giving kids enough freedom and self-direction in creating their literacy life while also holding them accountable?
- When it comes to writing, which deserves more time, attention and effort: the formal process with a focus on mechanics or the open-ended, unstructured, “freedom to write whatever” approach?
- Is it possible to promote an effective use of technology while also teaching students the value of being unplugged and tech-free?
- How do I mesh a sense of urgency and passion for student learning while also creating a tranquil climate that evokes peace and security?
And now for the drumroll please…. the “one word” I have chosen for 2016 is balance. It’s more than familiar. We’ve all heard of balanced literacy, a balanced diet, and even a balanced budget, all desirable and do-able. Yet for me, balance is something I seem to struggle to attain even though I yearn for it. I am hopeful that the answers I seek to the questions mentioned above can be found by focusing on my one word, balance.
A few weeks ago, students in my after-school “Literacy L.I.F.T. Club” selected a favorite word from a book they were each reading to create something we called “vocabulary bracelets.” At the time, the notion of a “one word” resolution had not even entered my mind. However, now that the New Year is here, I am excited to combine the two ideas.
On the first day of school in 2016, I’ll share my story about how and why I chose balance. Then during the month of January, I’ll invite my students to be on the lookout for their own “one word.” I’ll ask them to read with intention, reflecting on words that might fit the bill for a theme or goal they might create for themselves in 2016. Then we will make another round of bracelets… “one word bracelets,” a perfect accessory for the New Year!
How about you? What one-word theme have you chosen for 2016?
“One word” author/advocates worth checking out include:
2007 Blog Post by Christine Kane
A “Lead Learner” from Cabot, Arkansas by Bethany Hill
Compilation of #oneword on Twitter