“Lately I’ve been running a lot of miles on trails in the mountains. I’m training for a 100 mile trail race in October – what will be a huge challenge for me. I’ve come up with a mantra of sorts, a special word that keeps me going when I feel like cutting the run short or staying in bed instead of doing an early run. My word,grindstone, is not only the name of the race, but it also means “to work hard and perseveringly”. Saying this word motivates me, encourages me and keeps me on track to completing my goal. It reminds me of my commitment and helps me stay focused.

I like to do the same thing as I begin a new school year. Each year I choose a word to be my overarching reminder of what I envision for the upcoming school year. I put it on the cover of my notebooks, on my teaching table, in my planning notebook and around my room where I will see it.”

This an excerpt from a blog posted on Catching Readers Before They Fall by Katie Keier

Here’s the full posting: One Word

My word for this year will be the word better.  I too have been reading Peter Johnston’s books this summer, Choice Words and Opening Minds in conjunction with Carol Dweck’s Mindset (must reads BTW).  Thrown into this mix was the 2012 Summer Olympics and some poignant Nike ads.

I want to convey to my students the fact that they can be and do better.  There are more benefits in life to having a dynamic mindset versus a fixed mindset.  They should know that there is greatness within that it is not innate, that there are few if any naturals.

When I was young I came to believe that I was no good at math, that I was a math dummy.  This fixed mindset would haunt me for years just as if I had been bullied.  I also made the mistake of trying some things such as baseball realizing that I was not as good as those players I watched on TV and therefore giving up on it.  Nobody ever told me how much effort those “naturals” put into it to make it look effortless.  In my world at that time you were either good or bad.  Mistakes were not opportunities for learning and they should have been as my old friend Cal Roberts often told me during student teaching.

So, my  mission this year is to communicate through every means possible – better.  I can do better than I did last year, maybe not as good as the teacher next door but improving myself not comparing myself.  My students can do better than they have done before.  And together we can do better and keep doing better.


Another word that is powerful and very related to BETTER, is YET.


The Power of Yet