Broaden Your Vision, Narrow Your Focus

slice of life

When I was preparing to be interviewed for my current position, I knew that the most important question I would have to answer was “What’s your vision for the library?”

My vision? Well, I knew one thing for sure. My library wasn’t going to be quiet. There would be books…of course! But instead of students silently reading in a chair somewhere, I pictured kids here and there, talking (out loud) about what they were reading, researching, learning. (Ok, there were a few things I knew for sure.) This library I had in my head was very very busy. 

I love lists and took to my notebook with frenzied fury, jotting down easily a list of twenty ideas I had. 

* Weed and update the collection.

* Write new units of study and exploration.

* Connect with authors and illustrators.

* Sponsor whole school literacy events.

* Foster an atmosphere for reading, writing, and talking about books.

The list went on and on. At some point, I had to stop making lists and start thinking about how all of these ideas would fit into a plan…a plan for the library I saw in my head, felt in in my heart.  I knew I would have to focus on one or two areas at a time if I was going to accomplish anything at all.


 Teaching is so much about vision, isn’t it? We think about our vision for our students, the school year, even our own professional lives. We know that teachers have really broadened their vision of education to meet the needs of students growing up in the 21st century. Whereas the goals of a school year used to be mastery of multiplication tables and grammar rules, we’ve extended our vision to include creation, collaboration, and connection.  Our hopes for our students far exceed what teachers of twentieth century thought possible.


Moving forward, with a picture in our mind about what our 21st century classroom should look like, it’s easy to become overwhelmed chasing one idea after another.  Where do we put our efforts? What do we invest in?

The vast scope of ideas can be even more daunting for connected educators, who have a constant stream of Try this or this, Do it this way, Read this now! in our Twitter feeds or Pinterest boards.

We know we can’t do it all, even though in our hearts we want to.  We try more and more only to accomplish less and less. And often, our vision begins to seem like a burden.

So, we have a rule. The Rule of One. Try one new thing at a time. Teach yourself one new tool, one new technology, set yourself one goal at a time, and put your heart and soul into reaching it.

We follow this rule whenever we read a new book, go to day of workshops, or even join a Twitter chat.  TCRWP’s Saturday Reunion is coming up this weekend, and we know that we will be leaving with a notebook full of ideas. But, what we’ll be thinking about on the ride home is that one idea that we’ll try on Monday. And Tuesday, and Wednesday, and as much as we need to try it before we’re ready to move on to another idea.

You know that picture you have in your head? You’ll get there. One step at a time.

Narrow your focus, so you can continue to broaden your vision.

For all of the day’s Slice of Life Stories head over to Two Writing Teachers.

~ Jen and Darla


7 thoughts on “Broaden Your Vision, Narrow Your Focus

  1. Love this and will have to remember it – the rule of one. Right now, there are so many things that I want to do that it is overwhelming. I guess it is time to take a step back and break it down so that I can do one thing at a time. Perfect post that I needed to read. Thanks for sharing!


  2. I want to plaster this on a poster and put it all over every school I am in. So smart! So important! So vital! You hit the nail on the head every single time in such a real way.


  3. I love your rule of one!
    It reminds me of myself, coming back from an exciting PD. I always try one thing out the very next day. If not, it all dissipates so quickly. And after all, the journey is composed of single steps (to paraphrase…)


  4. Your post reminds me a little of the one that I just wrote emphasizing just one teaching point at a time. There’s only so much all of us can take on at once. I love the way you always take your slice and morph it into points about bigger topics and more universal messages. It amazes me.


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