Upon returning to my classroom after the holiday break, I did something other than the traditional New Year’s resolutions with my 5th grade students. I found that with most resolutions, many are forgotten, or even broken by February. I wanted something that would stick with students and something they would be able to apply to their lives in and outside of school.
Through Twitter, I discovered #oneword2015, an exercise where you pick one word to motivate you to succeed in 2015. The word has to have meaning to the person choosing. The idea seems simple, but it takes an honest reflection of the past and how you envision your life in the year 2015 to make it work.
I wanted to try it out for myself, so I began reflecting on my plans for the new year. At the start of 2015, I would be beginning my Spring semester of my MA degree on top of teaching full time a class of twenty, 5th graders. I had registered for two courses, one being the dreaded Ed. Research! At first the word overwhelmed came to mind. Although I was feeling this, overwhelmed would not help me be successful this year, nor would it motivate me to achieve my goals.
Conveniently, my 4 year old son, Michael, interrupted my thinking as 4 year olds tend to do, begging me to play a memory game with him. As he continued to beg me to play with him, I couldn’t help but think about the stress I would be under the next couple of months, juggling so many different balls. Lesson plans, papers to write, course readings, assessments, sports, playdates, cooking dinner the list went on and on. I kept thinking, how am I going to survive? I took sometime from my school work and played the memory game with Michael. We laughed and played as we usually do and maybe 20 minutes later, I returned to my #oneword challenge.
I realized that my #oneword2015 was going to balance! I think life is a balancing act and this upcoming semester was going to motivate me to be successful in balancing being a mother, a teacher, a grad student, a friend, a sister, a daughter, an aunt, etc. I am determined to balance my life and not to let stress take over. So it became my #oneword2015.
When I introduced this idea to students, I shared the same story. At first we brainstormed possible words of motivation and students were overflowing with great words. I found that having my example, and what the word meant to me motivated students to think about their own word of motivation. Next, I gave my students large pieces of cardstock paper for them to create their words and make it what they wanted. My students went back to their seats and got started on creating their words.
Here is picture of the finished bulletin board.
I made it a point to walk around and talk with all of my students and as them about the story behind their words.
I was amazed at how serious my students took this. One of my students chose the word proud. When I asked him to tell me why he responded, “I need to be proud of the fact I can speak Chinese and communicate with my grandmother. I also need to be proud of my school work and work hard everyday to turn in work that I am proud of.” My student must have seen how proud I was of his response because he went on to say, “I am going to be proud both inside and outside of school of myself and what I can do.”
The conversations blew me away. I decided to laminate each students’ #oneword card and display them as a constant reminder of their goals. My next steps will be to take each word off the bulletin board and have students place them on their desks for a constant motivator for them to be successful.
Feel free to comment below if you too have tried the #oneword2015 with your students or other New Year’s Resolution ideas. I would love to hear!