It’s simply One Little Word

OLW 2015


It’s time to choose (last year’s word) One Little Word to guide and direct me throughout my year. In reality “choose” was only a conscious thing for me for a little while, but as I reread last year’s blog post about making that choice, and reflected a bit, I believe I was influenced by consciously making the effort to choose and make decisions last year until it became a bit more natural.

I did better about making decisions and not looking back and playing the little “what if” games that kept my options open (and my days unplanned) for so long. So the benefits of focusing on one little word are real. It’s like a theme to your year(book), something I know a little about.

In the last month, I’ve had the new-to-me experience of purging nearly half (maybe more than half?) of the contents of my classroom. West-16 held over 30 years’ worth of journalism material, yearbooks, newspapers, curriculum, fundraiser materials, video tapes, software, hardware – and that all came with the room when I inherited it. In my seven and a half years, I added to all of the above plus student files that I didn’t know what to do with after those kids had moved on. When a bond issue was passed and the high school began reconstruction, I was told I was being moved to a new room in the main building, but I didn’t want to believe it. So in that way that I have, I put off making decisions about what to do with all the stuff, and I buried my head in the sand.

Reality pulled my head out two weeks before Christmas break, when all in the West building were told we had to pack up before the break as the building was going to be gutted the following semester for remodeling to begin. There would be no begging to stay because the old room met our needs and the new did not. Didn’t matter.

With the help of several of my newspaper and yearbook staffers, we began the tedious and heartbreaking process of Getting Rid of Stuff. The highlight of that endeavor was to have been the bonfire to burn over 800 yearbooks. Yes, first we tried to sell them. I’d been trying to sell these leftover books that dated back to 1985 for years. One or two at a time didn’t move many books. We discovered that yearbooks don’t burn well and were finally left with only one option: the dumpster. This was wrong on so many levels, yet we had no real choice; we’d tried other options.

After that, tossing other things was much easier and even somewhat cleansing. We reduced, reduced, reduced. Even still, the items we packed to take with us dumfounded those charged with moving our contents to the new room. Head of maintenance stared at the tower of boxes, the furniture marked with our new room number and said, “this won’t work.” Yeah, we know.

We got it moved and set up, and it’s definitely cramped. There isn’t enough room to store our stuff, some cabinets don’t bear the weight of their contents well enough to allow us to close the doors without the latches jamming, and we don’t have enough drops for our computers, so we have cords for electricity and internet taped across the floor. I understand there are plans to properly correct that problem in April.

I made the choices I needed to make. They were tough at first, but the more I made, the better it felt.

And now, with about half my stuff, half the space and nowhere to hide my clutter, 2015 will be a new era for me: a time to “Simplify”.

Yep, that’s it: Simplify. I won’t keep all the stuff. I’ll do things an easier way instead of the more complicated way. And I won’t be at work all the time (my mouth to God’s ear).

I thought forcing myself to make choices was going to be tough – and it was. To simplify all that I do, when I am used to considering ALL options before making decisions, when I’m used to keeping everything in case I need it later, when I’m used to tweaking every lesson, when I’m used to making everything I do at school as perfect as it can be at the cost of anything at home, well, it’s going to be tough to simplify, but that’s my challenge for the year.

If I play my cards right, it will become second nature at school and I’ll bring the process home and simplify there, too.

What’s your One Little Word for 2015?


About teachjournalism
I am a high school teacher of journalism, technology and reading. I advise the school's newspaper and yearbook, both student-led publications. Documenting and sharing my experiences is a way of reflecting to improve my own work and and inviting commentary so that we might all benefit. I believe, as I tell my students each year, that we all learn from each other.

2 Responses to It’s simply One Little Word

  1. marybethlee says:

    Great word! I hope you end up loving your new space. The next four months will be an adventure for sure. Hopefully you’ll get to help customize the room. 😊

  2. Amy Smith says:

    Love the idea behind simplify – I do the same thing. If I haven’t worn it, repurposed it, used it in over a year, I donate it. I’m excited to see what you do with your new space. I’m sure it will feel like “home” soon . . .

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