Over the past few months, I’ve noticed a profound shift in my educational philosophy.
When I walked into my classroom back in August, I entered with all of the thoughts I hold about the value of education, developing young adults with strong minds and character, the need to create opportunities for students to construct knowledge, and ways to engage students in learning.
While most of these thoughts remain intact or have been greatly enriched by teaching 6th graders this year (compared to high schoolers during my whole college career), I’ve come to the realization that the small stuff matters just as much as the larger philosophical beliefs. When the going gets tough or I cannot seem to find anything particularly extraordinary in my teaching, all of my academic and optimistic thoughts about education don’t provide a meaningful remedy to those times.
The small stuff is the important reminder I need to keep going.
What’s the small stuff?
It’s those rare moments when a student tells you, “I get it now. Thanks!”
It’s the drawing that a student made for you just because you mentioned that Bulbasaur is your favorite Pokemon.
It’s the times when a colleague sends you a quick email of encouragement.
It’s the short note from a parent about the change she has seen in her child’s attitude about math.
It’s the times when you see students truly helping each other, whether it is related to math problems or other problems.
The small stuff reminds me that I am making a difference. The small stuff reminds me that I’m not teaching mathematics- I’m teaching students. The small stuff reminds me to keep going because I want my students to learn to keep going.
I’m so grateful, but it can be easy to overlook the small stuff. My hope is that as I become more seasoned as a teacher, I also become more aware of the small stuff.