Tuesday, January 3, 2017

OLW 2017

This is my first time choosing One Little Word. Last year was the first time I learned about the idea and read some of the posts about people's choices and reasons.

In choosing my word, I wanted a word that would influence all parts of my life, not just my teaching life. I am concerned about the mood in the United States and about many of the problems in other parts of the world. It always seems like, what can I do? I'm just one person. But on the other hand, I belong to many communities. I am a teacher and can influence my students.

The word I choose for 2017 is bridge.

The more I thought about it, the more places in my life I saw that a bridge could be helpful. In my teaching, I need to build bridges so that all my students can be successful, whether that means helping develop a positive class community, reaching out to parents, or providing help to students to bridge the gaps in their skills.

We have a chasm separating groups in this country now. We desperately need to build some bridges. I had already decided to not contribute to the divide, by not participating in any of the memes or conversations in social media that ridicule one side or another. But silence doesn't build a bridge. I am thinking how I could try for a wobbly little footbridge by talking civilly to people who I do not agree with. Perhaps, "I don't understand this viewpoint. Can you tell me what is important to you in this issue?"

Bridges to other people: I have trouble talking with people, even people I know well, so talking to strangers is quite a challenge. I have always enjoyed the chance conversations with strangers when they spring up. To help me with this bridge, I am going to read the highly recommended book, When Strangers Meet: How People You Don't Know Can Transform You.  There's also a TED talk!

Life bridges: As I look ahead, I know I won't always be teaching, at least full time, in a school. I will be thinking about a bridge to another stage in my life. What do I want to do after this stage? It's an exciting thought.

I will be staying aware, to see more bridging opportunities in 2017.