Let’s PAUSE: My Evolving #OneWordONT Goal

While I’m not a huge New Year’s resolution person (often breaking most of my resolutions anyway), I do love the #onewordONT project, as a way to frame some of my personal and professional learning for the year. I’ve worked my way through a number of words over the past few years, but in many ways, it’s my failure with last year’s word that inspired this new one. Now it’s almost comical to think that someone who is so passionate about play-based learning, and often speaks about the value in “letting kids play,” could fail with play, so let me explain. 

This past year, I really did stay focused on “playing.” My teaching partner, Paula, and I changed the words “free exploration” to “play” in our daily schedule, and we have kids think about “where they want to go and play.” We put out materials and help co-create spaces that will hopefully result in deep, rich play, and we also work with students to reconsider areas based on the play that happens there.

Our Kindergarten Program Document emphasizes the importance of linking math and language learning to children’s play. Paula and I take this “noticing and naming” seriously, and often look at how to extend learning based on language and math expectations. It was my thinking around this that had me developing my #onequestion19 for last year, which also linked to my #oneword. I began to wonder if Paula and I were truly being “responsive to kids,” and if a change in this area, might actually lead to greater academic, social, and emotional learning. The problem? As a kindergarten educator who’s very aware of the Program expectations and Board benchmarks, it’s hard not to jump in first with the academic links to learning. I continue to wonder what might be lost with me doing so. Looking back at a video, such as the one below, makes me think about the power of pausing.

Last year, I took a wonderful Teacher Leadership Course through the Board, and we always began our sessions with the norms of collaboration. Paula and I spent a lot of time thinking and talking about these norms, and we still come back to them regularly. Recently, I wrote a blog post about some classroom experiences, and Lisa Noble‘s comment on the post made me think more about last year’s #onewordONT goal, and how I could vary it for this year.

This year, I’m going to focus on pausing. Maybe it’s about …

  • counting to 10 before I say something,
  • watching first and coming back later to discuss,
  • and striving for silence sometimes. Will this silence be when kids and/or adults come to their own conclusions?

This is not going to be easy for me, especially knowing that often time is limited and long pauses are hard in a class with 27 kindergarten kids and multiple things always happening. I might need to get better with walking away and returning afterwards. As I mentioned in a recent tweet though, pausing is not something that I just need to work on in the classroom. Pausing with adults can be just as hard. 

I wonder if perfecting the pause — or at least getting better at it — will help me,

  • see situations differently,
  • extend learning in new ways,
  • support students with their own solutions and extensions for learning,
  • and invite adults (and kids) to contribute to conversations in ways that they might not have before.

Here’s to 2020: the year of the pause! What’s your one word goal? I would love to hear your story … and I will even wait patiently to listen to all of it! 🙂


2 thoughts on “Let’s PAUSE: My Evolving #OneWordONT Goal

  1. Oh, Aviva. I need your word. I can be really afraid of the pause. I know how important it is, but it’s hard for me to do. Great word!

    • Thanks Lisa! Pausing is so hard for me to do too, especially when it leads to “dead air” (that big silence). I will really need to talk myself through this one. I do hope that it helps me see things differently. I think it will.


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