Yes, I’m going there. I’m making it wildly obvious and apparent that we have made it to the end of yet another year. Cliché, I know.
cli·ché – klēˈSHā/ noun –a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.
As if we haven’t been counting down the days for sometime now or looking forward to a fresh start as 2015 rolls around in less than 24 hours; this is a time when we allow ourselves the luxury to think about everything we’d like to leave in the past (and slip into the belief that we actually can leave whatever it is we don’t want anymore in 2014 – simply because the clock strikes twelve). We’ve been detailing and tweaking our New Year’s resolutions to complete and utter perfection (because in these euphoric (some would argue – desperate) moments we believe perfection actually exists). We’re ready for a change.
But, should we be?
I’ll be the first to admit that my 2014 was as tumultuous as tumultuous can be. No, really. Room 382 has been turned up, shifted around, marked, bruised, taken advantage of, and sadly (at moments) not utilized to its fullest potential. Yet, every morning with the heat blasting (awaiting student complaint) there’s an essence that is viscerally undeniable. I walk into a space, a quiet and waiting space, that invites risk, mistakes, setbacks, and quite frankly – the undeniable ugly. Yet, there is no judgement, discerning undertone, nor slight anticipation that today there will be no progress.
Why would I want to leave all of that in 2014?!
I want these feelings, these realities, these quiet moments of hope to stay tightly tucked in my pocket as I make the invisible leap into 2015. I don’t want to leave the struggle, nor the beauty, behind – it has become a part of who I am (as an educator, woman, thinker, problem solver, learner…).
I can’t forget those moments when students found their way through pieces of literature that sparked their love for reading. And I’m talking: “we’re-so-thirsty-we-can’t-get-enough”esque love of reading!
I won’t allow myself to pretend none of this happened – because it did. I know it. Students know it. It’s been what we’ve all held onto when it seemed there wasn’t anything else to keep us grounded, or stable, or…moving forward.
And, while we are half way through our 2014-2015 winter break, I hold tightly to this: Our Reading Plan for Winter Break.
Students have committed, willingly, to really think through which books they want to explore during our hiatus. Every student’s list is vastly different than the next, yet their pride in taking on this challenge (an hour of reading per day) is evident. They are playing with genres; being honest about time constraints and the length of specific books; some wildly ambitious, others playing it safe. Regardless, this is the tangible that will be welcoming us all into the New Year.
This will be the first thing we talk about upon re-entering room 382 and our time together on January 5, 2015. We will be exploring all we learned about reading in 2014 and see how we all (myself included) challenged ourselves independently. How did we fly? When did we feel our wings getting clipped? What did we learn? What do we want to share? And so on and so on.
So, as the New Year always brings new promise and a sense of intrigue, I challenge us all to not lose sight of the beauty of the year past. Bring with you the moments that challenged you the most. Capture, in vivid detail, the time you (and students) felt alive and connected. Take a moment to massage the inner strength you know has become dormant sitting right below the surface and embrace it.
We owe it to ourselves and our students to relish in the relaxation, adventure, and exploration that this break offers, yet continue to embrace the challenges of late and invite the unforeseen new ones in. This year, I am shouting loudly and proudly,”Cliché No More!” because with every year comes a newness balanced with a familiarity of knowing.
Here’s to a happy and healthy to you and yours!