Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Choosing our words

Tuesdays at Two Writing Teachers!
"Oh wow, you guys are choosing great words!" I peer over my students' bent heads as they brainstorm and then create signs for their "one little words" for 2017. My kids are just awesome. Seriously, they're amazing! Oh man, I love this job.

I love sharing pieces of myself with my students, showing them how hard I work to be who I am and helping them find ways to do that work for themselves. Every year, I work more goal-setting into my classes, and every year, I'm less afraid to be unperfect in front of my students. Every time I share about my personal and professional goals with them, I can feel the sparks flying from my eyes, turning into glimmers growing in theirs.

So even in the midst of several dismal days of graduation test retakes (a great way to start off the new year, right?!), we're taking the time to reflect on how we grew last semester as readers, writers, learners, and people. We're analyzing our progress and setting specific goals, but we're also choosing "one little word" as an overarching guide in our journey to be better people in 2017.

For me, "one little word" has been such an uplifting way to encourage myself to be better without putting more stress on myself, and that's how I introduced it to my classes this year. We've already done so much goal-setting work that they have well-developed attitudes about working hard to improve, so it really didn't take much to nudge them towards the right kind of brainstorming to discover their words.

We talked about how resolutions often fail, and why our short-term, measurable goals with plans work better for making specific progress. We discussed how, combined with those specific goals, an overarching, broader intention or word can be a positive force that keeps you driving throughout the year. I quickly modeled how I often brainstorm possible goals and look for patterns across my list, and then turned them loose to do their own brainstorming...

And boy, did they arrive at some powerful words!
 A few of the words that have been chosen so far... others are still working. Love these kids!!!
Look out, world. There are some pretty incredible teenagers in room A2. They speak multiple languages, navigate multiple cultures, and handle untold adversity with strength and grace. Best of all, they're working hard to get better every day.


  1. What beautiful, strong words your students have chosen!!! I LOVE how you did this activity with your students, challenging them to find words that can be measured in the short-term. FANTASTIC!!!

  2. I love the snippets of life in your classroom and the amazing connections you make with your students. Your excitement and love and support are clear in your words! Great word choices that will continue to help them grow and learn this year with you!

  3. Jennifer every time I read your post, I want to get back in the classroom. I can imagine that your students are excited about this reflecting. I am, too! Just an FYI, also: It is for young children, but I recently wrote about a book that is going to become my "OLW" this year. I love it, and wonder how it would work with your students? Check it out! https://smile.amazon.com/Day-Waiting-Linda-Zuckerman/dp/0310740541/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484108207&sr=1-1&keywords=the+day+is+waiting

  4. I love the positive spin you put on your back-to-school work. And your explanation of OLW is one of my favorites: "...choosing "one little word" as an overarching guide in our journey to be better people in 2017." I love seeing your students' words. Easy to see that great things will be happening in your classroom.


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