Celebrate: One Little Word

This week I celebrate my One Little Words for the past few years. Each one has opened me up to opportunity and change.

I didn’t set goals or make plans. No check in points. I didn’t measure the impact scientifically. My words set a tone. They create a lens. A way to see the world.

Need and discovery triggered each word.


You know when you read a book and think, This is what I’ve been thinking but couldn’t put into words!

That’s what happened when I read What Readers Really Do by Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton.  Little did I know that read would lead to personal and professional relationships with the authors and educators like Fran McVeigh, Allison Jackson, Ryan Scala, Mary Lee Hahn and Steve Peterson. My life as a teacher changed. Completely. The power of wonder continues to fuel my passion for education, reading,  writing and my OLWs.


 If I learned anything in my year of wonder, it was that talking at them resulted in the less. Listening could find so much more.

I found it essential to avoid listening for the answer. I needed to listen for the genesis of the answer or why that answer made sense to that student. To be able to listen with a better hear for student thinking, I found my OLW for this year.


To hear and see a person for all they have to offer, I need to admire who they are; what they bring to their work and the world. Katherine Bomer introduced me to this idea years ago during a TCRWP’s Summer Institute. It was a model. A how to admire a child’s writing.  I’ve carried this with me, and this year I need to highlight it.

Gravity Goldberg’s new book Mindsets and Moves couldn’t have come at a better time. In it, Gravity develops the concept of admiration as a way to view our students and ourselves through a lens of possible.

When we focus on possibilty instead of limitations, we have space to be who we are and move toward who we want to become as readers and as people. When we let an admiring tone settle in to our every moment, students feel safe enough to risk-take with thier ideas about books and life.

2016 offers promise and challenge. With the start of the year, I bring wonder and listen forward as I look to admire those around me.

Admiration brings possibility that our expectations can bury. Rather than look at how we haven’t, this year I want to consider what we have and stand on the shoulders of the possible. I enter 2016 with admiration for my students, my friends, my family, and myself.

  •  wonder
  • What if…
  • let go
  • and answers appear
  • listen
  • say less
  • take in
  • and words adjust
  • admire
  • the shiny gem
  • a promise for
  • the learner and me.

Celebrate This Week with others at Ruth Ayers blog Discover, Play, Build.

celebrate link up

12 thoughts on “Celebrate: One Little Word

  1. Your words are a shiny gem. I, too, would like to stand on the shoulders of possibility. Thanks for your mindset of moving forward. I love the quote you shared, too. This will give my students something to think about as they approach their one word.

  2. I discovered how powerful my words to students were years ago when I heard those words played back to me in their portfolio presentations, and I also learned to choose wisely what I said (or wrote) to them because I wanted them to find their own words for self-evaluation. It is a thin line, isn’t it? Do you think that Bomer’s “admiring” is similar to Ruth’s “celebrating”? I love the way you wove the words from the beginning to now, each contributing to what you are, want to be. Happy New Year, Julieanne.

    • Yes we do dance on that line. I think of it as acknowledgement and honoring others thinking so they develop independence . And yes, I think admiring is very similar to Ruth’s celebrating. Absolutely! I’m so glad you made that connection for me. It gives me a space to check in on it.

  3. I love the practice of picking a word. I love your reflections on it, especially, “My words set a tone. They create a lens. A way to see the world.” YES!!! Admire. What an interesting word! I can’t wait to see where it takes you my friend!!

  4. I love your bullet points at the end that sum up the why and how of the words you have chosen. Admire is a unique word. Not one that I would have thought of. “A promise for” Yes, promising gems. I look forward to hearing how this word works for you.

  5. Hmmm Words are so interesting . . . it is amazing the power that they have. Admire is an interesting one. When we admire we also have to stop and process. A lot of power.

  6. I like how you weaved your OLWs into a poem. ‘Admire’ is unexpected. Standing on the shoulders of possible is a great image. Wishing you the best for 2016!

  7. Admire the world as it unfolds with a plethora of possibilities for you. I do like the way you introduced us to your new world. Poetry has a way of speaking volumes to readers. Happy New Year.

  8. Love the way you framed your past words and this year’s OLW. Like others, I was surprised by your choice, but I love this quote: “When we let an admiring tone settle in to our every moment . . . ” and the possibilities it involves. Happy New Year as you uncover the promises and possibilities for yourself and your learners. (I need to uncover my writer’s notebook so I can jot down some of your quotes.)

  9. Thank you, thank you, thank you. In my book myopia, I’d totally forgotten about a new one little word – and one leapt out at me as I quickly scanned your list: Seek! Not completely sure what I’m seeking, but now that I can breathe better (which was last year’s word), I feel like I’m ready to seek! And maybe we’ll cross paths again this year as I’m seeking and you’re admiring!

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