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I’ve been inspired. I mean, this time of year, it is hard not to look ahead with eyes to the bright shining promise of the new year. But it also is tempting to pull my head out of the clouds and realize I have a few short weeks left in first semester, and a pile of grading staring at me from before break. So, how the heck do I balance my need for, well, balance with these competing sentiments of optimism and exhaustion?
As usual, when it comes to great ideas, I need to blame Meredith White. I feel like lately, she is my teaching patronus. The wind beneath my creative wings. Or to use an analogy I know she would appreciate, the bitters to my brandy old fashioned. Sweet. (I’m a WI girl.)
She recently posted about her New Year’s Revolutions–things that she wants to “rethink, rework, and revamp”. Seriously, GO READ THIS blog RIGHT NOW. Go. I’ll be here when you get back. Every word of that post is SO necessary for any educator, but especially World Languages/Proficiency-focused folks.
But with her Revolutions, she also inspired me with her one-word resolution. After many years of being very good-intentioned with a resolution, you might have thought I was confusing my New Year’s resolution with giving something up for Lent. “I’m going to lose weight.” “I’m going to be better with my money.” “I’m going to stay on top of my work.” “I’m going to make sure I do the dishes right away.” Yeah. I’m still heaver than I want, owe more than I want, have a pile of grading staring at me, and am sitting in the shadow of the snowy peak of Dish Mountain. I realized that while I had a very narrow resolution, what I lacked was FOCUS. And there is nothing simpler to focus on than one single word.
I need something easy to remember, and an easy mantra to remind myself of. I might even do actual meditation exercises about this.
I am reminding myself of all the many things that deserve my full focus in life. I am so easily distracted by things more entertaining but often less truly important than tasks I’m facing. And if I can breathe and FOCUS on my work without being pulled off track by passing whims, online diversions, and shiny objects, I will be able to get so much more done, and with so much more creativity, passion, and quality.
People I am with deserve my FOCUS. Whether the students in my classes, my colleagues in meetings, or my friends and family. There are times I lack that FOCUS. Instead of circulating the room while my students work independently, I take advantage of some “downtime” to do my own things. At meetings, I’m frequently polishing lesson plans or grading papers. And I wonder how long it takes while spending time with people I love before I pick up my phone and check notifications. The people I’m with deserve my attention. And I should FOCUS on them.
Of course, I have goals. Lots and lots of goals. Let’s face it, all the goals. Professionally (develop streamlined class systems, blog more, finish my freelance writings for Sr. Wooly), personally (keep my house neat, cook healthy food, drop a few more pounds), and aspirationally (write a novel, be recognized as excellent in my field), I have lost my FOCUS for many of these tasks. They go in spurts. Sometimes I intently FOCUS on one, but the others fall by the wayside. I want to keep my eyes on the prize, or prizes as it may be, and look forward to achieving progress toward them in 2019.
Share! We're all in this together!