Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thinking Ahead to 2014--I'm Not Calling These Resolutions

Well, 2013 was not a great year in terms of meeting any of my goals. A ridiculous concussion with a unique healing-turned-into-migraine-cycle, followed by drugs that didn't really help, made for a pretty blah year in terms of getting things done. It was a real bummer as I spent 2012 working hard to get in shape (Couch to 5K and Yoga) and read lots.  So, now, at the end of 2013, I am kind of back to where I was a few years ago. But when I look back, I learned lots.  I am not good at slowing down and the Concussion Year forced me to do that (since I had nothing else to do).

I realized that the goals aren't really so important.  Having a time in my life that I couldn't read, work or exercise was fascinating.  I really had nothing to do as I don't have many hobbies not related to reading, work or computers.  So, it forced me to take a break and to think about what I love and how I want to spend my time.  During my first week of the concussion rest, I told a friend that I thought God was telling me I needed to rest.  She said, "He has been trying to tell you that for a while. You just weren't listening."  Good friends say what you need to hear, I guess.

Anyway, going into 2013, I am just celebrating the fact that I can read again. And I can exercise again. And I can work a lot again. And I can write again. I do love work.  But I did learn that I also love rest. And I learned that I haven't been taking care of my own learning.  And I learned that I got so busy that I didn't even realize it.  And I realized that once I had to quit all of the ongoing projects I was involved in, it was okay.

As you can see from the list below, it isn't so balanced. I am really committing to a year of my own professional learning and that seems to take up most of my space here.  Visually, it looks unbalanced but I feel like I need a year like this while still fitting the other important things in.

So, this year, I want to read. I want to read more for me. I think I got so caught up in reading the newest books for my students, in reading the books that might win awards, in reading the books I thought I should, that I stopped reading YA and Adult Fiction that I love. I want to make a bit more time for that. My life is better when I'm reading.

And I want to use the library more. I am really bad about buying books I then don't really need.  I love owning books but clearly have too many.  When we got married, my husband told me that buying books was never something that would be a problem--you could never own too many books.  Well, he had no idea what that could become and I find myself with lots of books that I've read but don't necessarily need or want to own.  And the number of books I own is getting to be overwhelming to say the least.  So, I am going to try to use the library more often. It is right next door to my school and they have a great collection so there is really no excuse not to.

Our #runteacherrun Facebook Group has grown to over 200 members! I haven't been very active on it this year as I've lost so much running time.  And I was never great at running anyway. But I do want to get back to it.  The Facebook Group started a challenge and I think I'll join.  With some modifications.  Here is their challenge:

2014 Run Teacher Run Challenge- join me?
*Run or work out at least 14 times a month in 2014.
*Post at least 14 times on run teacher run.
*Run at least 4 "real" or virtual races in 2014. (Or create your own with friends!)
*Run at least 400 miles in 2014. (Or create your own workout equivalent to miles.)
*Encourage 4 teacher friends to run/workout and join us here in this group!

I'll modify in a few ways.  I definitely want to work out at least 14 times a month in 2014 and I want to post at least 14 times on the Run Teacher Run page. I'll also encourage others to join the group.  In terms of races, I am going to try for 1 race or virtual race. I am not a big fan of races so one seems like plenty to me.  And I am not going to set a mile goal. I am a very slow runner (15 minute miles--slower than walking). I think my goal will to be to keep track of my mileage in 2014. That's all. Just to begin that habit.

I also started a membership to My Yoga Online. I love going to the yoga studio and we are lucky to have a few great ones and lots of great teachers here. But, some days, I just don't have the time for the driving, set up and 1 hour class. My Yoga Online has all different classes that I can do at home with my membership. If I add this as an option, I should be able to fit in 3 yoga classes a week.

My own learning is going to be a goal for 2014.  I have been in the classroom for 27 years and it is easy to burn out of this job without constantly learning, changing and growing. I have been so lucky to be part of lots of professional groups of people who are committed to learning and growing as educators.  Over the last several years, I've done lots of consulting and fit in my own learning when possible. When I had my concussion and had to cancel lots of my consulting work, I realized how much my own learning just kind of tagged along with my consulting work. I very seldom went to conferences over the last few years without presenting, etc. And I missed just being places as a learner. I love the consulting work and learn so much from that, but I realized in 2013, that I had lost my balance. Here is what I have planned for 2014.

I plan to attend several conferences over the year . A balance of topics and types of conferences. At some, I'll be presenting a bit and at others I'll attend with no responsibilities.  Here is what is on my professional conference plan.

OETC -Ohio Educational Technology Conference--I'll attend this one for one day and do a one hour session on digital learning at the conference. The rest of the day will be dedicated to my learning.

The Dublin Literacy Conference is one of my favorite days of the year. I'll be doing a session with Tony Keefer and Katie DiCesare.  I love this day. (Last year, my concussion was new so I was a little woozy during my presentation with Tony.  I am hoping to do my part a little better this year!)

I've been busy with my NCTE work over the last several years and because of that I've missed our state OCTELA Conference. This year, I'll be able to attend for a day and do a one hour session. This has always been one of my favorite conferences and I'm looking forward to getting back to it.

MRA will be a conference that I attend just for me and for fun. Driving with colleagues, having the weekend of learning is always a treat. 

I'm looking forward to the second part in our yearlong Literacy Connection study.  Ruth Ayres' visit in the fall was a highlight and I am looking forward to her April session! 

I'll be doing a few sessions at this year's All Write conference, one that I was SO SAD to miss last year because of my concussion.  This is definitely a favorite for so many reasons.  

Last year, I attended a Choice Literacy Writing Retreat and it reminded me of how much I love to write and that I wanted to dedicate more time to different types of writing.  It was an amazing few days and it changed me as a writer. Looking forward to another writing retreat.   I'd also love to participate in Kate Messner's Teacher's Write this summer too:-)

ISTE is one that I am thinking about attending. It isn't a conference I'd attend every year but one I'd like to attend once in a while and it is in Atlanta this year. If I can get organized to get there, I'm planning on it.

And of course, I can't wait for NerdcampMI!  Nerdcamp was one of my favorite days in 2013--from the moment we got in the car until the moment we got home, we had a great time. The team ran an amazing day and I'm looking forward to one that is a day and 1/2 this year. 

I'll be speaking at this year's Ohio Innovative Learning Environments Conference. This is an amazing week of learning and I'm excited to be part of it.

NCTE!!! Of Course!!

I'm also planning on revisiting professional books to really dig into the classroom piece a bit.  With 4 years out of the classroom and a year in 4th grade, it is taking me a little while to learn what works in a 3rd grade classroom. Now that I've had some time, I want to tweak a few things and learn a bit more as this age is so different than 4th.  

I'll also be finishing the NCTE book I am writing with Bill Bass. This is a great learning experience.  The book is on Digital Literacy: What's Essential? and it is really helping me think through what I understand about literacy and the ways tools are changing things.

I'll be teaching a few Choice Literacy Online Workshops (The Tech Savvy Literacy Teacher and Text Complexity in Grades 3-5). I just started these last year and I love the online learning format.  I love how groups come together online to learn around a topic and I love thinking about these topics with other educators.  

Word for 2014

So, I have always been fascinated by people who have a word for the year.  I haven't really had one of those as I could never think of the right one.  But I think I have one for 2014.  I was looking for one and have been pondering my need to "get things done", plan ahead, etc.  I never seem to just enjoy what I am doing as I am always worried about or thinking about what's next or what I don't have done or how behind I am.

Nerdlution has been good for me. Even though I have been on a 10 day nerdlution-vacation.  It helped me see that I do need breaks and balance.  And that I have to be careful not to think too far ahead.  Mary Lee posted this link to the #nerdlution Twitter group this week and it said a lot to me.  So my word for 2014 is going to be TODAY.  I am going to try really really really hard to not stress about all that is coming my way and enjoy each day whether it is a day full of work, rest, friends, exercise, whatever.  I love my days but so often I get caught up on what's next or what I didn't get done, that I don't enjoy the day or what I am currently doing as much as I should.  Each day is different and TODAY seems like a good word for me for 2014.

And I will turn 50 in 2014.  I have been telling everyone and saying I'm 50 for a while so as not to be too shocked when it actually happens.  (See why TODAY is such a good word for me!)


  1. I love, love, love this post. I really can't believe you're going to be 50 - you don't look anywhere near that number, but maybe you're just one of those people who will keep redefining those milestone birthdays. :-) You still seem REALLY busy, but it's all good and wonderful work, and I for one am grateful that you're out there teaching us - you've been so inspiring to me and lots of others! I'm glad you're giving yourself permission to just go to a couple conferences to learn. I love your word of the year! I picked JOURNEY at the end of the summer, so I'm going to stay with that in 2014 because I love it, and I haven't gotten a full year with it. :-) Happy New Year, and I'll see you at Dublin Lit!!

  2. I love your word...today. I think you are like many of us who seem to worry about yesterday and tomorrow which means today gets lost in the shuffle. I wish you blessings for all your "todays"! I turn 50 in 21 days...yuck!

  3. Franki,
    You amaze me. If I accomplished all of that in a decade I'd be pretty excited. I love your word --- I think it will let you enjoy the moments that come your way. When you said, " often I get caught up on what's next or what I didn't get done," all I could think about was all you do accomplish and share and teach all of us. I think if you kept lists of what you got done TODAY you'd be amazed (though who needs to keep more lists...lol).

    Enjoy TODAY,


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