My classroom is not a quiet, orderly place.
Students are constantly moving, thinking, talking, reading and writing.
I do my best to help my students find success.

January 1, 2013

OLW: Thrive

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Two Writing Teachers

We just returned from a 4-day trip to northern Michigan.  I'm trying to feel like we didn't drag my two teenagers away from their friends (the hotel did have WiFi!), but no one complained when we decided to head home today.  <sigh>

Since there was a great base of snow (unlike here in Illinois where the snow is seriously lacking!), the girls tried snowboarding for the first time.  It was tricky for both, but they even attempted a run down the main hill.  Another day I joined the girls for an hour of tubing.  I loved being towed up the hill (scenic and relaxing) then whoooshing down the hill at breakneck speeds.  The trip gave us the taste of winter that we craved.

At our New Year's Eve dinner, I brought up One Little Word.  The Two Writing Teachers encourage people to choose one word instead of lengthy resolutions (read more here: OLW blog archive).  For the past two years, I've chosen finish and listen.  My kids and husband are familiar with the idea, but they were surprised that I asked them to think about what their little word would be.

My 14yo daughter immediately called out her word, "Single!" and started laughing.  She's a cute freshman girl who thinks everyone should have a boy following you around, carrying your books.  She's had quite the following since school started, and she recently decided that boys are better as friends (yes!).

Both girls exclaimed ideas for my husband.  He's spent nearly 200 days on the road this year, and stress has given him a few health issues and a short temper.  Ideas for dad included healthy, unstressed, fresh, hunt.  (can you tell they want him to find a new job?) He made a knowing face and said he needed time to think.

My 16yo daughter chimed in with a word for herself:  survive.  "Survive what?" I asked.
"Junior year, trigonometry, the ACT, college talk," she replied.  We thought about it for a second.
"Survive means you're barely making it.  What about thrive instead?" I suggested.

Thrive (from
1  : to grow vigorously : flourish
: to gain in wealth or possessions : prosper
: to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances

I like it! I'm thinking that thrive could be our family's OLW.  We don't need to worry about definition #2 (we have enough stuff) but I really like definition #3.

I'm hoping that each of us thrives in our work, academics and social lives.  I reminded both of my daughters that I expect them to thrive during finals week and that they are to absolutely ask if they need any kind of help in order to be successful.  My husband likes to remind them, "High school is for working really hard in your classes and having fun while you're doing it."

Here's hoping you thrive at whatever goal you choose to reach in 2013.
Happy New Year!


  1. I love the words your daughters selected! Thrive has strength and you know your goals will be accomplished when you have that word to guide you.

  2. My first thought is how hard 200 days on the road is--on everyone. I have friends that work that sort of schedule and my father worked out of state for many of my high school years. It kept us from moving but was difficult. I love your word thrive and how it grows and triumphs over mere survival.

  3. I love the idea of having a family word (even though I just finished laughing at a post where LeeAnn said one of her friends had suggested the word "bacon." I said I thought my boys would choose PEPPERONI as their word of the year!) It will be interesting to reflect on how that word plays out in everyone's life. Here's to lots of thriving and a new job! Or at least less travel in the current one!
    P.S. Like LeeAnn, I feel for your husband and the impact it has on all of you. My brother in law travels like that, and it's really exhausting.

  4. This is great! Not only do I love your choice of "thrive" but I love that it became a family discussion! My kids aren't quite old enough for that sort of discussion...but I still wonder what word they might choose if they were! Happy new year!

  5. Great word, Chris. And, I too, think it's great that you got your husband and girls involved and have chosen a "family word". I like the 3rd definition the best and know that even with the ups and downs of life, you all will progress and realize your goals. Good pic of your family.

  6. I love that you took the conversation up with the fam! I also think it's a great word for everyone. We know we'll all survive ____ (fill in the blank), but it's that additional push to thrive. Love it and I LOVE the photo of you all! What a great picture!! Looking good!

  7. Our former head of school took a new job in DC two years ago, but his wife who teaches with me & his two boys stayed here in Denver. We have tried to be supportive but it isn't easy long distance, as you are saying. I hope the word 'thrive' will be a great mantra for your family this year, Chris. What a nice conversation you described. Happy New Year!

  8. ooh, I love "thrive" for your OLW! It feels inspiring and encouraging. I also love the idea that your family is all involved in the experience of choosing a word to live by for the year!

  9. Lovely picture. OLW for a family - very neat idea. I'll make sure that my one little word will find its way to my family too.