Final 2017 OLW reflection

My 2017 OLW is ROUTINE.
How did this word help me?

I wanted to have a reading routine just as strong as my writing routine is.
          I am proud that since this time last year, I have read much more. It helped that I switched jobs and now am a Reading 6 teacher in MS! But looking back over the whole year, I am proud that I did a Mock Caldecott in January with my 3rd graders and am getting ready to do a January Mock Sibert (best non-fiction) with my current 6th graders. Both surrounded me with loads of picture books that I read and read. I also did the MARCH BOOK MADNESS where we read 2 books and voted on book to go forward! I’ll do that again this coming March. I am reading and adding scrapbook-like notes about it into my Reading Notebook. And just yesterday, I noticed my local library has book clubs. I do think I will look into join a club in the new year. So, as the year is ending, my reading routine feels strong!

I wanted to have an exercise routine.
I had a fun, active summer. My husband took me to Mexico and we snorkeled and took walks on the beach. I returned and got ready for a new job – Middle School. And the school is just down the street. So I am walking to work – about a mile each way, each day. I like it when exercise is built into my day. I also am ending the year inspired to do even more. I get home from work by 4pm. My husband isn’t home until 7pm. I think I’ll renew my gym membership and look into taking a spinning class. I am happier when I fit into my clothes so I am motivated to move more!

I wanted to have a healthy eating routine.
I eat fruit and cereal every morning. Then pack a healthy lunch and take it to school to eat. It is just my husband and I at home now so I try to cook us a healthy dinner. I could lessen my white wine intake. Maybe more salads in 2018, too!

Now what will my 2018’s OLW be?
The idea of planning adventures comes to mind. A friend told me years ago about a night tour of the National Arboretum on the night of a full moon. I want to do that. There is a visiting Vermeer exhibit at The National Gallery of Art. I want to go see that. My husband and I talk about eating out once a month to try new restaurants. But then months will go by and we didn’t go. Maybe my word can connect to planning and implementing outings/adventures….I think I’m onto something…I’ll keep pondering as I have 6 more days to pick my word.

How did YOU do with your OLW?
Do you have a 2018 OLW picked?

OLW update

When I read Beth’s blog yesterday about her reflection on her OLW, I at first couldn’t even recall my word. Lately, I’ve struggled with my remembering. So much is happening and  I feel I’m on overload and I can’t think clearly. This year more than most, I really need summer vacation. However, when I put OLW in my blog’s search box, I was led HERE and quickly remembered – ROUTINE is my word! As I start to reflect, I actually feel pretty good about how this word is working in my life, despite that fact that I am not consciously remembering it!

I was hoping to have a READING ROUTINE – I definitely have read more since January 1st. Yet, the idea of posting to a padlet didn’t last more than a few days?? Not sure why it is hard for me to physically log books? However, I do have a plan. In August Katherine Paterson will be speaking at the TCRWP August Writing Institute and I got in!! So I started reading her books. She has many and by August, I plan to have them read! I even have a notebook to scrapbook my thinking around her books, something I can share with my students. I like having this goal.


Also our staff book club read 2 books so far and have 2 more to go, so that is 4 more books. (Maybe I’ll go back and add to my padlet!!)

I was hoping to have an EXERCISE ROUTINE: This is actually happening but not because I wrote about it on January 1st. My husband has planned a great 2-week vacation to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico in July to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary. So 3 weeks ago, I joined a gym and my routine is Sat, Weds and sometimes a third day. It’s a start. Nothing like swimsuit season to kick me into an exercise routine!!

I was hoping to have a HEALTHY EATING ROUTINE: Again, my husband has helped with this. My girls got him a Nutribullet for Father’s Day a year ago. At first it just sat on the counter. It was his gift so I just left it alone. During Christmas break, he read up on it, found recipes, and started using it. Now he has a routine – he shops for his ingredients, he chops and prepared the container the night before. And each morning I have a healthy smoothie, thanks to his routine! My oldest daughter is helping too. She is hanging with us for a few months and she started having Blue Apron delivered. She cooks 2 times a week using the recipe and ingredients that arrive in her Wednesday delivery. Saturday night she prepared the best fish dish with rice and kale. Yummy and healthy and all I did was set the table! Thanks to those I live with, I am eating healthy.

Despite the fact that I had to search to recall my word, I think I’m doing OK!
Do you recall your word?
How is it going for you?


Change sprinkled with Routine

As 2017 starts, I focus on my OLW – Routine. I know I feel comfort when in routine. I know that discombobulated feeling that comes when change is demanded.  I thought about this as I reflected on my 2016 Christmas.

Tree was decorated in the living room,

not cut down after a drive out to the country, like those first few years.

Blue, green and white-flashing lights wrapped it and ornaments hung,

no hand-made ornaments received as the kids are both 20+ years old.

Most presents shipped via Harry and David and gift cards mailed

so not many presents to wrap and place under the tree

Christmas Eve meal cooked by me this time, included stuffed cabbage and egg nog

no Grandma’s house to visit  to eat Grandma’s stuffed cabbage because Grandma is no longer here.

A highlight was an unexpected trip into DC to view ZooLights.

We entered the zoo gate and saw this:


and then this:


and this:

and then this:


and I happily stood and posed with my daughter here:


Now I plan to make a visit to ZooLights my new routine. Somehow unexpected fun helps accept the unexpected changes of the season.


2017 OLW – Routine

2015 – Responsiveness
2016 – Transparency
2017 – Routine

For the past 2 years, I have focused on my response to others – my family, my students, my colleagues, and strangers.

This year, I want to be focused on me. I love that I have a routine to write. I am motivated to write at least once a week because of the TwoWritingTeachers blog. Weekly writing IS a routine for me.

I want more routine in my life. I hope by making this my word,  more routines will enter my life.


I want a Reading Routine – I started by making THIS PADLET and I plan to add every book I read to it. My husband and I also figured out how to share books between our kindles which gives me more books at my fingertips.

I want an Exercise Routine – I am no sure yet what this will become. I fear it is not enough to just say I want to do it. I have to make a plan and then carry it out. Many years ago, my daughter needed a car for her work and I could take the Metro to work. It required a mile walk to the station and then quarter-mile walk from the stop to my school. Then the same walk in reverse after school to get back home. Daily, I exercised because it was the only way I could get to work. I wonder if I can somehow make exercise again just a part of how I navigate through my day? If so, I know it will be what I do. A routine.

I want a Healthy Eating Routine – That same year, I routinely attended Weight-Watcher meetings. That regular meeting allowed me time to sit and think and make a plan for how I would eat and exercise. That year I lost 20 pounds and one dress size. In the absence of an exercise and eating plan, those 20 pounds found me again. I would love to reverse this.

I believe when I put something in writing, then it must be done. I hesitate to name these three routines. But I will. I love having my writing routine and I look forward to following four routines strongly throughout 2017.


What OLW is motivating YOU this year?

Reflection on 2016 OLW

I wrote about my 2016 OLW, transparency, HERE when I picked it and  HERE at the midpoint of the year.

With just 11 days before picking my 2017 OLW, I feel I should reflect.

To me, TRANSPARENCY meant being clear and open and tolerant. With my students. With my parent community. With my family and friends. I also thought of my OLW and my house which I just moved into as 2016 began. The house fills with sunlight due to the windows and open floor plan and I also saw keeping my new house clean relate to my word.

I am proud of how I communicate in a predicable way with my parent community. I notice that much of learning in school is invisible. So I tell the kids to “show me your thinking”. Parents weren’t seeing lots of worksheets going on because at times, we do more hands-on. To remedy this, I started a parent letter routine. On Friday’s I have each student fill in a form letter to their parents. It does home in their take home folder and each student has to add details about the highlights of the week. This routine of open communication is working to make our learning more open and clear. Along with this, I send a Friday afternoon or Saturday morning email to the parents, too. I briefly tell them my favorite part of the week and highlight events coming up. They like my openness. They like that this comes electronically to their email and can easily reply to me with any questions. Through open communications, I am proud of my transparency as a teacher.

In terms of being tolerant, I am trying. I have a challenging group of students. I work on my patience. I work on planning lessons to meet all the needs in my room. I work to delivery clear instructions. Sometimes, it works. Other times I struggle. Often I feel overwhelmed. But in the end, my tolerance is serving me well.

As for my house, I can’t believe it has been a year! I was able to clear out all the leaves from our 2-year ignored backyard. I still want to do much more with the yard but that will have to happen in 2017. As for the inside, I clean when people visit. And I think my time might be spent better hiring someone to clean! Maybe something to investigate in 2017! Slowly we are buying furniture and unpacking stuff to make it feel more homey. The best part is that everyday, I enjoy the clear view to the outdoors. My favorite is the beginning and ending of the day when the sky is so many beautiful colors. I see this so easily from the inside of my house.

2016 – TRANPARENCY – a word that served me well!

2017 – I think habit or routine will be my word. I have 11 days to finalize it!

OLW at midyear

I decided my 2016 OLW (one little word) would be TRANSPARENCY and I wrote about it HERE.

As I revisit it today, I am feeling it is serving me well. However, differently than I expected.

I wrote back in January: While responsiveness [my 2015 OLW] feels more of a reflection after the fact, transparency feels like a pro-active stance. If I am clear and open and tolerant from the very beginning, my interactions with my students, my colleagues, my family, strangers, anyone, I hope will improve. As I wrote this, I anticipated spending time explicitly being CLEAR. I added open and tolerant but CLEAR was what I was most focused on. Looking back now, I realize that instead, I am most proud of how I’ve been OPEN and TOLERANT with my students.

As my 3rd year back in the classroom, I have fully embraced aspects of RESPONSIVE CLASSROOM. A MORNING MESSAGE is on the board each day to greet my students and they know to read it as they arrive and often to add an answer to a question I pose or to sign-up as a volunteer to share. Then we routinely gather after the school’s morning announcements for Morning Meeting. I have the luxury this year of having 75 minutes for both Morning Meeting and Math and then an additional 35 minutes after our early lunch to finish any math we need to finish. Because of the flexibility with time, I’m more relaxed and open and tolerant of our Morning Meeting taking a few extra minutes which it regularly does. I am relaxed and laugh at the silly ways we greet each other and the silly games we play. We start our day with play and I start it by being open and tolerant of all in the room. And they SEE, due to my TRANSPARENCY, that this is a fun, safe classroom. And I realize now that because we have a great start to our day, we have a great day, all day long!

I also wondered back in January: Can I help parents to “see” what their child is learning when so much of it seems invisible? I notice due to each student in my classroom having an iPad, that I use less and less worksheet paper and instead, post more assignments to google classroom. I know we do LOTS in a week but the Friday Green Folders used to communicating with parents may not SHOW much paper work. With a month now to go in this school, I am proud of my routine for communicating with my parents. I have their child on Fridays write them a letter sharing the top things they learned during the week and have them add Ask me about _____ in order to start a home dialogue. I also send an email on Friday to all my parents stating my own highlights from the week and reminders of ways to help at home. With just 4 weeks to go in this school year, I am proud of my TRANSPARENCY with my school families. Sure, it takes time to write that email. Sure, it takes time on Fridays to stuff Green Folders and add a student-written letter. But it also lets parents SEE all the great stuff we are doing, especially in this digital age when so much of what we do seems more invisible.

Finally, I also wrote: I will work to keep my new house clean! I’ll admit that I am doing just OK with this. I love my new house and as Spring is about to become Summer, I love having the windows open and spending time finally getting the neglected yard in some kind of order. I will admit that I am not on a regular weekly cleaning schedule but I do clean. I tend to clean best in anticipation of guest coming over. Maybe YOU should plan to come visit me?! I fully admit, I currently do need a motivation to clean my house.

And that’s me being TRANSPARENT!

2016 OLW – transparency (following 2015 OLW – responsivenenss)

Sally’s 2016 OLW – Transparency

Last year I was bothered by my responses and my OLW became RESPONSIVENESS.
In a January, 2015 blog post, I wrote:
I want to spend time actively learning how to better respond to:
~ 10 year old boys
~ colleagues, thoughtful, arrogant, and/or ignorant
~ the drama of school and family situations
~ the lack of kindness shown by strangers I pass during the day
~ anyone causing me angst

Overall, my OLW served me well. It helped me to look back at how I acted with hopes of acting better the next time. I still want my responses to get better so they are always grounded in kindness and tolerance and openness and I will keep working on this.

To help, my 2016 OLW is TRANSPARENCY.

While responsiveness feels more of a reflection after the fact, transparency feels like a pro-active stance. If I am clear and open and tolerant from the very beginning, my interactions with my students, my colleagues, my family, strangers, anyone, I hope will improve.

Why Transparency?
This year, I have come to realize that much of what happens as I teach is invisible to others – my students’ parents, the administrators, even the students themselves at times. As an example, just before Winter Break, the librarian visited my classroom to show my students an app that allows them to download e-books onto their iPad (each student in grades 2-5 at my school have their own district-issued iPad). He showed us a few steps and then I watched for the next 15 minutes. The classroom was very quiet. All were touching their iPad screen, moving to different screens, trying his steps. All were discovering the nuances of an ebook. When I did hear a voice, it was, “Show me how you did that?” I observed lots of collaboration between peers and with the librarian.

Reflecting on this 30 minute lesson, I realized that SO much happened, yet so much was invisible. I started thinking: Could I / Should I make lessons like this more transparent – clear – for all to see/understand? Could we / Should we capture all the ebook options on an anchor chart? Is it necessary? Is just taking time to talk and collaborate with another enough to remember how to navigate around the app? I am reminded how most electronics no longer come with a manual anymore. Instead, I can google “How do I ____ using ___? to figure out features of my iPhone and macbook air. The knowledge is available but is not clearly displayed first for all to see. Knowing this, maybe instead, I teach lessons on HOW to find my answers to my questions? Maybe the anchor chart becomes all our questions about the e-book app and not the steps to the answer but the steps to how to find the answer. Being CLEAR is definitely a word that may take me the entire year to fully “see clearly”!!

I will admit, that I am drawn to this word, transparency mostly because I have 1:1 iPads in my 3rd grade classroom. We just started using Google Classroom and I’m figuring out how best to use this tool to amplify our learning. I’m also in a brand new school where the district redrew the neighborhood lines and I often hear, “At our old school, we did…At this school, I don’t know what is happening in the classroom.” When I ask parents to say more, they explain they knew what was going on because lots of worksheet packets were sent home. Because our new school has a sustainability focus, we are trying to be paper-light. But I also understand the parents’ wonderings due to the lack of visible work being sent home. Can I help parents to “see” what their child is learning when so much of it seems invisible?

By keeping the word TRANSPARENCY as my OLW, I hope to make my teaching more clear for my students, my parent community, and my administrators.

Another personal goal of mine for 2016 is to keep a clean house. For two years, I have been living temporarily in a rental house so a house could be built based on my architect husband’s amazing modern, energy-efficient design. I will admit that while in the rental, I was a horrible housekeeper. Now that we moved into the new house (just days before Christmas!), I want to keep it clean! I wondered if CLEAN should be my OLW. But then I realized that when an object is transparent, it is so clean that light can go through it.

So my OLW for 2016 is TRANSPARENCY!

* I will work to ensure what happens in my classroom (and in my life) is shared in a clear, transparent manner.
*  I will build on all I learned last year, striving to have positive responses toward others.
* I will work to keep my new house clean!

OLW – Responsiveness

Inspired by @FranMcVeign’s post today, I am reflecting on MY 2015 one little word- responsiveness.

I have written about it here in January, 2015 and here in February, 2015 and here on last day of May, 2015.

Now I am 15 days away from picking my 2016 OLW.
But first – How did I do with my 2015 word?

I am drawn to the definition and synonyms to help me reflect on how I did this year.

“…to adjust quickly to suddenly altered external conditions…”
 I still struggle with the “quickly” part. I naturally reflect but often seem to have my best thoughts after the fact. But if “quickly” were removed from this definition, I do think I have responded better when the situation calls for adjusting this year. My response now is to think, “There are many ways to do something” and respond in a more tolerant way.
“to resume stable operation without undue delay.”
Again “without delay” may be a stretch at times. But as I reflect back, my response to situations is putting me in a more stable place. As I compare teaching 5th grade from Jan-June and 3rd grade from Sept -Dec, I would say I am better suited to spending my school day with 8 year olds. Their joy, their wonder, their response to me, helps me to better ensure a “stable operation”.
Responsiveness Synonyms:
opennessFrom Sept-Dec, I have held a Morning Meeting every day at school. I have included student shares and stayed committed to taking the time to start our day in an open and welcoming manner. It has made all the difference. And yes, I will admit that the minutes spent learning math has been less on some days due to more minutes spent during Morning Meeting but in the big picture, all my days of learning are stronger because of the time spent being open to greeting the students daily, laughing with them as we play a game and listening as they share their interests.
acceptance – During all of 2015 (and 2014), my husband and I have been building a new house designed by my architect husband. It has been the biggest thing my husband and I have ever done. By January 1, 2016 we expect to move in. As I look back on all the ups and downs of this endeavor, I can honestly say that I have shown acceptance of all we could and could not control. It helped me to kept busy responding to and placing my energy in the things I could control, like teaching 3rd grade and letting go of the things I couldn’t control, like the pace of the construction crew. My friends hear me say often, “It’s all good” when they see a smile on the outside of my face when inside I want to really just cry. But instead, I accept it and know it is worth the wait. 
tolerant – As I enter my 24th year as a teacher, I feel less tolerant at times of my colleagues. I want them just to know all that I know and be on the same page as me. Instead, I feel myself become impatient when instead, I have to convince them of what I know and believe are best practices. But then I try to remember and respond in a tolerant manner. Some days are better than others.

As 2015 comes to an end, having responsiveness as my one little word has helped.
Now I have 15 days to think about what my 2016 word will be??!!

OLW – responsiveness on 2/12

“The kids need to get into groups of 6 and I’ll pass out the scripts and then each group will perform…” a student quickly rambled, stating the steps in the Homeroom Activity she planned for the day.

In my mind, I was reminded that another class was joining us to see how the kids in my room were planning the Homeroom Activity. I was reminded that this activity should be just 20 minutes, as we still needed to have time for small group work. I was thinking this sounded way too complicated and I thought it should be less complicated.

“It sounds like this might take too long. Should we save it for another day when we might have more time?” I gently stated.

“But I worked really hard on it last night,” she pleaded.

I contemplated my response. On the one hand, as the teacher, I do have the power to have the final say. Yet, on the other hand, as a teacher in a Responsive Classroom school, my responses need to take in account all in the community. This child was tasked with the job of leading our Homeroom Activity – an activity with the goal of adding a bit of fun into our day.

So I took a breath and calmly stated, “Ok, let’s give it a try. How can I help?”

35 minutes later, everyone had laughed.
35 minutes later, everyone had had a fun break.

35 minutes later, I was glad I responded the way I did.

Sometimes, as a teacher, my response needs to be “OK, let’s give it a try” and then get out of the way.

OLW – responsiveness

As the 2015 year begins, I want to focus on my response to things. I want to spend time actively learning how to better respond to:
~ 10 year old boys
~ colleagues, thoughtful, arrogant, and/or ignorant
~ the drama of school and family situations
~ the lack of kindness shown by strangers I pass during the day
~ anyone causing me angst

As this year ends, I realize more and more, I get very bothered by others. And I respond by either just walking away and not saying or doing anything OR by yelling (as in the case of 10 year old boys who do much to drive me crazy by Friday afternoon – yes, I am a 5th grade teacher). By keeping the word RESPONSIVENESS front and center, I hope to read more and observe more and try more about ways to respond to others.

One of the definitions of RESPONSIVE is related to machinery – “the ability of a machine or system to adjust quickly to suddenly alterned external conditions, as of speed, load, or temperature and to resume stable operation without undue delay.” Synonyms listed include openness, acceptance, broad-minded, observance, receptiveness, tolerant, understanding, aware, kind-hearted, sensible, warm.

My goal of keeping RESPONSIVENESS as a focus is that my responses will be positive and that quickly I can adjust to resume operation without too much delay. Presently, I respond by being annoyed. I respond by thinking an hour later about what I could have said. I respond by turning inward and letting it go and maybe tolerating too much.

Professionally, I plan to read more about Responsive Classroom. I plan to reflect weekly on my own responses. I plan to also be accepting of the speed (whether slow or quick) of my growth.

I know this is an area I CAN be better at through practice and constant reflection. I openly accept RESPONSIVENESS as my OLW for the 2015 year.