Skip to content

Kathleen’s One Little Word of 2016

be_happy______by_helina01-d966azb

When I was in the fourth grade, one of the most popular songs was “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin.  My school held a lip sync contest and I adorned a sideways Yankee cap, pinned a giant smiley face to my oversized green sweatshirt, and lip synched my way through the song. I won first prize! Everyone agreed it was quite the show-stopper. But somewhere in the 27 years since that performance, I’ve let go of that wise advice.  I worry. I stress. I overcommit. I feel myself making to-do lists while sitting with my children and then feel annoyed that I am stuck playing blocks when I need to be attacking the bulging work bag I’ve brought home. I become resentful that I have no time for myself and the result is a grumpy, out of balance, exhausted, overwhelmed person, full of worry, not so much the “happy.”

lip sync
Life sure has changed since the fourth grade!

The Counting Crows sang about “A Long December” and that sums up last month for me. The month began with feeling completely stressed trying to prepare standards-based report cards and then, in the height of the holiday craziness, my beloved Grandmother became ill and passed away. At 89 years old, she lived a beautiful life and fortunately did not suffer much at the end, but the loss was still devastating to me.  While putting together a collage of pictures to display at the wake, her life came into focus. The celebrations, the smiles, the laughter. My grandmother had a happy, optimistic view of life. She let go of grievances and focused on the love. She took joy in cooking and preparing meals for those she loved, playing with her great-grandchildren, sitting on the porch, chatting on the phone with her friends.  Of course there were difficulties and sad times, but her happy spirit always shined through.

On December 18th, during that long and dark month, brightness did come as I attended the Literacy Leaders’ Forum at Cantiague Elementary School in Jericho, New York.  JoEllen McCarthy, Dr. Tony Sinanis, Glen Eschbach, and special guest Chris Lehman led discussions that were uplifting and inspiring, centering around the idea of leading with joy and love. I found my One Little Word for 2016 while sitting in a session with Dr. Tony Sinanis, who is the lead learner (principal) at Cantiague Elementary School. Dr. Sinanis said, “Happiness is critical to success in schools. Kids avail themselves to learning when they are happy.” This school year, Sinanis has declared it the #YearofHappy and tweets from Cantiague include that hashtag. He spoke about tons of research that connects happiness to academic achievement. I googled it and he’s right. The research is in- happier students learn more. I’m betting that happier teachers teach more effectively, too.

My fourth grade self’s advice, my grandmother’s influence, participating in the Literacy Leaders’ Forum, and even a Facebook quiz and a fortune cookie have all pointed me in the direction of my  One Little Word for 2016…HAPPY. I created a Thinglink for links to articles that discuss the connection between happiness and achievement, as well as videos that make me happy, and links to happy pictures and quotes.  I hope to add to it through the year.  I’ve read and loved Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and Happier at Home.  I am now reading her book, Better Than Before, hoping to learn more about the habits that I can develop to become happier in all aspects of my life.

Personally and professionally, there are things I will work on to add more HAPPY to my days. Here are some ideas I have for bringing more happiness into the classroom:

  • Try new greetings each day in our Morning Meeting.  The Morning Meeting Book, by Roxann Kriete, has some great suggestions to try.
  • Make time for a Go Noodle brain break at some point each day. It’s a great chance to move and laugh!
  • Penpals! My friend and fellow third grade teacher, Aliza Werner, and I have connected our students and they will begin sending letters to each other this month!
  • #MindsetMonday: Share videos, poems, stories, or articles about keeping a positive mindset.
  • Try our own class hashtag to emphasize the happiness of learning.  (#happyhere)

J.M. Barrie said, “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” This year, I hope to bring the sunshine. Please share in the comments any happiness resources or ideas you have! Also, please share your own One Little Word for 2016. It would make me happy.

 

22 thoughts on “Kathleen’s One Little Word of 2016 Leave a comment

  1. This quote could have been me, “I feel myself making to-do lists while sitting with my children and then feel annoyed that I am stuck playing blocks when I need to be attacking the bulging work bag I’ve brought home. I become resentful that I have no time for myself and the result is a grumpy, out of balance, exhausted, overwhelmed person, full of worry, not so much the “happy.”
    Now that I’m a grandma, I have discovered the happy in getting on the floor and playing with NO distractions. Of course, in retirement from day-to-day work in the school system, there is way less on my to-do list.
    Best wishes on your ‘Happy’ New Year.
    Carol
    My OneWord2016 is “next’.

    Like

  2. The perfect word to focus on this year after all the ups and downs over the last month. Thanks for sharing all those links. Excited to read more about the happiness research and learning — the thought of it just makes me happy! Also, I think I will adopt the #HappyLearning #HappyHere with my class Twitter!

    I’m collecting happy thoughts over on my Pinterest page: https://www.pinterest.com/michellenero/olw2016happy/

    I wish you a happy year of happy everything!

    Like

  3. I couldn’t help but smile reading your post. I am so “happy” for you that you have great memories of your grandmother to share with your own kids. My #oneword2016 #olw is Hope, I have blogged about it. Wishing you a HAPPY 2016

    Like

  4. Just knowing you are alive makes me happy. I have learned this past year how stressful your life can be because you set such high standards for yourself. You have accomplished so much in just one year. Maybe it is time for you to pause to realize that so you can truly be happier. Enjoy the fruits of your labor this year and be gentle with yourself. Give your happiness a chance to surface…I know it’s there because you are the inspiration for happiness for me and so many others.

    Like

  5. What a terrific word and amazing post Kathleen. Thank you for reminding us all of that important word and for sharing so many resources from book titles to Go Noodle – which is new to me but just what I need for my third grade readers.

    Like

  6. Kathleen, I am so sorry about your loss, and at Christmas it’s especially hard. I’m so encouraged by your uplifting spirit. I always get great vibes and ideas when I read your posts. Love that Thinglink, too!

    Like

  7. Thanks for sharing your OLW, your process for getting there and also your ideas for how to weave it through your life. I also read and throughly enjoyed The Happiness Project and think it might be time for a reread. ON a side note– I thought I would be done writing about my OLW for a while once I chose it, but find myself wanting to write about it more as it percolates. Anyone else notice that?

    Like

  8. Your posts always make me happy because you are so detailed and relevant. I chose “joy” for similar reasons. I hope you will share what you find for #MindsetMonday (we have Mindfulness Mondays as part of our Morning Meeting, but I like the mindset emphasis, as we have worked on growth mindset a lot). My third graders know that research says “fake it ’til you make it” can mean smile and you will feel happier:)

    Like

  9. Kathleen:

    I love this part: “J.M. Barrie said, “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” This year, I hope to bring the sunshine. Please share in the comments any happiness resources or ideas you have! Also, please share your own One Little Word for 2016. It would make me happy.”

    Being able to ASK for a specific response means that you truly do have a goal in mind so I’m totally filled with joy this morning(my OLW along with Dana and slicer Erika).

    I like starting every day with a quote – but even a focus on Mondays to get the week started right might be an option to reduce stress for those who wonder where they will find the time. My goal – Tweet out a quote that brings me joy each Monday!

    Like

  10. Last year my one word was “balance”. HA. Seems elusive for me. This year I thought about choosing “happy” as the word. It’s not that I’m never happy, but my happiness is pushed aside by stress- I could so relate to your post above. I was afraid to choose happy because what if I bomb like I did with balance?? You’ve pushed me to take it on! A lot of the reading I’ve done recently reminds me that happiness is a choice, and much of happiness is in how you think about it. I found this page with rather simple quotes that contain a lot of wisdom and I’m going to revisit and borrow from it regularly: http://y55happy.com/happiness-quotes/ Your post reminds me of the importance of kids being happy, too, and how I have the power on a daily basis of helping them BE happy, not just for achievement’s sake, but for their own lives.

    Like

    • Be gentle with yourself. I’ve been striving for balance for years. Rest assured, it doesn’t exist. I’ve decided life isn’t meant to be in balance. It’s meant to rock and shift. Forget balance. Do more of what makes you HAPPY. 🙂

      Like

%d bloggers like this: