Be the change, being a teacher

On Doing Less

As I contemplate the year that has passed, the year that is about to start, I cannot help but think that it all seems to have gone by in a blink.  That this year with all its news, all its wonder, all its sorrows, seem to have rolled me by and is just over.  That while I cannot wait to say goodbye to 2016, I also cannot believe that this year is just done, just like that.

I look at the words that were supposed to define this year; hope, change, slowing down, spending less, giving more, and wonder when those words got lost.  What happened to our audacity?  What happened to our do something attitude?  And how did my own children get so big?

So as I look forward to 2017, I cannot help but think of what I want to do less of.  Of how I want to continue on this path of slowing down, of saying no, of focusing in on the tasks we have at hand rather than constantly stay focused on what is to come.

This year I have embraced the slow down in the classroom.  To take the time it takes us to work through a topic.  To move deadlines, to go deeper, to not do as many things in order to do better with a few.  And I have noticed the relief in the students, I have also seen it in their work; more thought has been put into it, they care more, they have more questions.  They are usually less stressed when they come to English and can actually turn off the outside world and focus on the learning in front of them.

So my word for 2017 is single-task.  For years I have fooled myself into believing that I am great at multi-tasking, but really all I am good at is being distracted.  For years I have felt my brain search out new stimuli every few seconds, not being able to embrace what I am doing right now, not being able to appreciate what I am doing because I am constantly searching for the other thing I need to do.  So this year will be the year of doing one thing, of not having 7 tabs open at one time on my computer, of doing one thing until it is done and enjoying it.  Of doing less and experiencing more.  Of hanging with my kids without my phone, without my computer, without doing, doing, doing.  Of teaching like every moment matters, because it does, of looking at my students more, of slowing down, of being in the moment.

I know I wont be perfect, we never are, but I will keep trying every day to focus more, do less, and do one thing at a time.  What will be your word for 2017?

I am currently working on a new literacy book.  The book, which I am still writing, is tentatively Passionate Readers and will be published in the summer of 2017 by Routledge.  I also have a new book coming out December, 2017 called Reimagining Literacy Through Global Collaboration, a how-to guide for those who would like infuse global collaboration into their curriculum.    So until then if you like what you read here, consider reading my book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.  Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.




4 thoughts on “On Doing Less”

  1. I am a multi-tasker. Once a friend told me it was my artist’s mind, so after that I embraced it as part of who I am. As I’ve gotten older, though, it’s harder to keep a lot of balls in the air. I have slowed down out of necessity, and I’m happier. I wish I had done so when my kids were younger. Now I take time for their phone calls. I relax and don’t feel quite as pressured to do it all, all the time. Good luck with your resolution.

  2. You have written many things here that resonate with me, but the line that stopped me in my tracks was, “I look at the words that were supposed to define this year; hope, change, slowing down, spending less, giving more, and wonder when those words got lost.”

    This is so much of what I feel– the year has raced by, and I had such great intentions at the start of it. Now, I feel a sense of guilt for all those big ideas that didn’t happen. I have to stop myself and take stock of what I did do, and not beat myself up for what didn’t happen– and while that’s difficult for me, I feel more determined to accomplish it after reading your post.

    Thanks, Pernille! Good luck with your 2017 resolutions, and Happy New Year!

  3. Your words speak some of what’s in my heart. I wrote a similar reflection today. I’m trying to balance more and less in the next year. More of some things, less of others. More quality. Less stress. More kindness. Less stuff. More focus. Less feeling fragmented. @jkarabinas sent me your link, and I’m so glad she did. Happy New Year and best wishes!

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