Learning To Live Ishfully!

For the past couple of years, I’ve determined a #oneword goal — with many other educators from around the world — to help focus my teaching and learning practices. While the thought behind the #oneword is that we update it every new year (i.e., the beginning of January), technically September is a new year of teaching for us, so forever being the rule breaker, I’ve decided to re-look at my word now. My word for this year was “hearing,” and back in July, I reflected more on this word. While “hearing” is still an important focus of mine, this new one word encapsulates that and just a little bit more. For this school year, my new word is “ishfully!”

To truly understand the word, you need to read Peter Reynolds‘ book, Ish


This is one of our favourite stories, and the word has truly become our word of the classroom. Even when my teaching partner and I sat down to determine our Flow of the Day, we included many an “ish.”

  • We say “goodbye” at the gate at 9:05ish.
  • We come in from outside at 9:40ish.
  • We tidy-up before our morning meeting at 11:30ish.
  • We get ready for our end-of-the-day routine — including another outdoor learning time — at 2:30ish.
  • We dismiss for home beginning at 3:15ish.

You get the idea. And trust me, this “ish” is on every single one of our daybook pages. Why?

It’s not because we’re laissez-faire or don’t see the value in a plan. It’s because, if we’re truly listening to both kids and each other, then maybe we need the “ish.”

  • We might want every child to say “goodbye” at the fence and move to the playground to play by 9:05, but maybe one child is really struggling with separating. Maybe one child needs another hug, a visit to a sibling’s class to say “hello,” or some additional quiet time with an adult to feel better.
  • We might want to come in at 9:40, but maybe some children are having difficult “goodbyes,” and that extra time outside to breathe, to move around, to socialize with friends, and to calm down is what they need to truly be happy in class.
  • We may plan on tidying up at 11:30, but maybe on some days, the children are so productively involved in play that they need some extra time to extend it. Maybe on other days, the children are struggling, and they need some additional time outside, a movement break, or even a quiet Brain Break to help refocus. And maybe, some children need one option and some need another one, and the two of us (and/or our prep coverage teachers) need to work together, embrace the “ish,” and support all children where they’re at. I’m so fortunate to work with such flexible and understanding colleagues (no “ish” needed here 🙂 )!
  • We might plan on being outside for dismissal at 3:15, but maybe on some days, the children are taking longer to clean up. Maybe on some days, something so exciting happens that we have to take the extra time and be a little bit late because some moments have to be embraced. 

I’m a planner. I like routine, and I function well on a schedule. There are many benefits to this, as routines do help people feel “calm.” But as I continue to spend my days with three-, four-, and five-year-olds, and learn from both them and my partner in the process, I begin to realize that living a little more “ishfully” makes all of us much happier. So for this year, I’m determined to embrace the “ish,” enjoy every special moment in the classroom, and not worry so much about the time it may take to do so. What impact would (or does) living “ishfully” have on your life? 

For now-ish 🙂 ,


2 thoughts on “Learning To Live Ishfully!

  1. Aviva,

    I love your “ishfully” word! I too feel like that is how I am running things in my classroom. Getting adjusted to a new division, and a split grade is making me learn to let go a little of my need to schedule and be in control. So far it is working really well for my students, and I am slowly adjusting – but really it is creating a lot of extra anxiety for me.

    I am going to have to take some time to reflect and get going on my “one word” for the year. Thanks for bringing it back to the forefront for me.

    I am going to share this with my students next week and may even do a project with this with my students and have them do their own blogs about their “one word” goal for the year.


    • Thanks for sharing your experiences, Sarah! It really is hard to “let go.” I’ve realized the need even more for this over the past couple of years, and I can definitely relate to your anxiety. Seeing the benefits for kids though, definitely helps. What seems to be causing you the most anxiety? Sometimes getting at the root cause, helps. I wonder if your “one word” would connect with this too.

      I’d be curious to know what words your students would choose and why. I do know some other teachers that have given this a try. These “one word” posts are great for reflection.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *