One Little Word for 2014

A few years ago I started participating in Ali Edwards’ “One Little Word”.  I think Stacey, of TwoWritingTeachers, first introduced me to the concept, and it’s stuck ever since.  I’ve even done OLW with my students.

In 2011 my freshman all chose One Little Word, wrote it on an index card that they decorated, and then hung it in our classroom for the remainder of the year.  At the end of the year one of the girls took that “quilt” home.  This year, she brought it back to school and it hangs in the senior lounge.  I love looking back on what those students deemed important as freshmen and what they grew into today.  It’s such a valuable exercise and one I plan on repeating with my current freshman class.

I spent a lot of time pondering my word choice for this year.  On my many daily dog walks I would let my mind wander as I tried to decide what I wanted to focus on this year.  First I debated choosing “run” and realized that was too specific.  Then I thought I’d do something health related.  Nah.  For a bit I settled on “committed” and thought I had it!  But then I realized committing is actually my problem!  I don’t know how to say no to anything and as a result, my work-life balance can suffer.  And that’s when it came to me.

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Balance.  My One Little Word for 2014.

To strike a balance between work and work and work.  To learn how to say no when I need to do so.  To say yes to the good things.  To balance my reading and writing.  To balance my life as Sarah with my life as Mrs. Gross. at HTHS.  To balance my life in general.

I am going to have a student teacher this semester and I think this word will help me set a good example for her, too.  All too often, teachers try to do it all and be it all.  It’s important to remember that we are more than teachers!  We are spouses, siblings, children, pet owners, crafters, business owners, writers, readers, health nuts, bakers, shoppers, decorators, and everything else in between!  And that’s ok.

What is your One Little Word for 2014?

OLW 2009

I can’t believe that I go back to school tomorrow!  I do love the new year, though, because it’s so much fun to reflect and look ahead with my students.  I first heard about Ali Edwards’  “One Little Word” last January and wanted to try it with my students.  However, I just never got around to it.  This year, I decided to make it a priority.  It is a great extension of the Hopes and Dreams my students wrote about back in September.


I spent the last few hours designing a 3 day assignment for my students to complete during writing workshop this week.  On Monday I will introduce One Little Word with examples from various blogs.  I came up with a 2 page list of possible words my students could use (to help those who get stuck) and my students will spend their independent writing time brainstorming a few possible ideas and why those words are important to them.  On Tuesday they will choose their final word and begin to design a square for our paper OLW quilt bulletin board.  They will look up their word in the dictionary and write a simple definition for their OLW as it applies to their life.  On Wednesday they will complete their squares, including 1-2 sentences about why they chose their particular OLW.

I am really looking forward to doing this with my class, as this year is such a huge one for them.  They will be finishing their time at our intermediate school in June and starting middle school across town in September.  It’s always a tough transition and I think that the OLW exercise will help them begin to sort out their goals for this year.  Hopefully it goes as well as planned!