They say less is more, and it is: more accessible, more manageable, and more effective.
So my word for 2015 is LESS.
It took me years to accept and embrace this concept when it comes to my teaching. I always wanted to COVER everything. I was not necessarily as obsessive about getting to the imperative by the end of Spanish I, but "covering" was still a goal that I let push me around more than I should have, even when it wasn't just grammar or vocabulary I was trying to cover.
Here's the secret folks:
COVER AS MUCH AS THE KIDS CAN APPLY AND RETAIN FOR THE LONG HAUL.
Anything beyond that is vanity, if not entirely in vain. Oh, sure, it's easy for me to say, resting on my non-tested elective class laurels, and I feel for my core-subject brethren. I would make a very poor test teacher at this stage of my career. Then again, two of my most accomplished colleagues at my own school have found great success on stupid tests simply by doing what they know is right for kids and focusing on the essentials--and focusing hard!
But this past year, I've found the fewer vocabulary words I focus on, the more my kids actually use them. I've got a list of 10 verbs that I think will handle pretty much any circumlocution situation a novice might encounter, and they can choose what they need beyond that!
I've also found the fewer projects I try to squeeze in a semester, the more confident my kiddos feel, and the higher quality the outcomes are. Since project presentations aren't my tests anyway, who says I need to do a different one every 6 weeks? So the district divides the semester up that way; as long as I meet my prescribed assessment quotas, I can do what helps the kids.
I've found, too, that the fewer responsibilities I take on, the higher the quality of the work I produce. I'm also guilty of wanting to have a finger in every pie, so I sign up for more workshops and unnecessary assignments than I should. That's not likely to stop, mind you, but the year's word is LESS, right? So only ONE proposal for only ONE conference next fall.
As for home and family, I don't guess that Cub Scouts or violin will be disappearing any time soon, and then there's always the threat of team sports looming on the horizon for one if not both kids. But what I can do is have less stuff. If I can finally get rid of piles and boxes of old clothes and toys, the less will be be more manageable, too.
So what can you make LESS in your life so that what you do is MORE accessible, manageable, and effective?
And what will YOUR word be for 2015?