For the last week or so, this song, “Put One Foot in Front of the Other” from the animated classic, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, has been looping through my head. Now, I’m not anxious to rush this nascent (not quite) autumn into winter, nor am I breathlessly anticipating Black Friday sales. Rather, this year my school district has embraced multiple new curricular initiatives, which can prove daunting to even the most experienced, skilled teachers. This song reminds me that whenever we’re presented with a challenge, we can take a deep breath, and put one foot in front of the other. While each single step may be small, taken together, those baby steps add up to significant growth, change, and progress.
Where to begin?
A great place to start is by thinking about strengths. Just as we build from the known with students, we need to begin there when we take on something new. What do you already feel confident about that will transfer to the new work? Are routines and procedures already in place that will facilitate the transition for you and your students? Are the key terms, concepts, pedagogy or the instructional framework familiar? Build a bridge from areas of expertise into the new.
One Step at a Time
Our district theme at the elementary level this year is “One Step at a Time.” Attempting to do it all, and all at once, is a recipe for frustration – for students as well as teachers. Plot a course, focusing on one aspect of the new curriculum. Perhaps the workshop model of teaching and learning is new. You might consider beginning by putting the bulk of your efforts into the mini-lesson. Once that’s firmly under control, move on to another aspect of the workshop, such as one-on-one conferring or small group work. Zeroing in on one element facilitates a greater sense of progress, and building a stronger foundation upon which new work will stand.
Many hands make light work. Consider forming a working group to learn the curriculum, plan lessons, and score assessments. Working through issues like pacing, lesson delivery and expectations for mastery are made easier when working collaboratively with peers.
No, really. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. Trust that putting one foot in front of the other will move you into the change. As the saying goes, “the only constant is change,” so we need to find ways to take on new challenges in ways that improve learning for our students while keeping us sane.
Also, if you’re wondering how many days there are until Christmas, click here. . .
Until then, just keep putting one foot in front of the other.