Posted in General Inspiration, Pep Talk

Small Steps that make Big Differences

(c)DearTeacherLT2013  (You may use the image if you link back to this blog or give credit to this blog.)
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to this blog or give credit to this blog.)

Dear Teacher,

I don’t know how this week has been for you, but it has been a tough one for me.  It is only halfway through summer, but I am already getting a bit overwhelmed with everything that I need to get done before school starts (not to mention all of the summer chores to get done here at home).  This is coupled with trying to pick myself back up after finding out the state test scores from last school year.  I want it to be a motivation to try to streamline and learn from my mistakes for next year, but it still takes a bit of the wind out of your sails.

Have you been where I am?  Excited about planning and setting expectations for the new year, but also a bit overwhelmed and pre-defeated by the staggering odds against you?  It is hard.  It is like setting a goal to climb a mountain, but standing at the bottom of it and seeing how impossible it feels to do so.

We make big plans and set huge goals for ourselves and our students for the next year.  We get psyched up and amped up as we plan and see all the possibilities.  Then reality hits us.  We think about what hasn’t worked in the past.  We start to wonder if our students will buy-in.  We think of all the obstacles in the way of our goals.  We start to wonder if the hard work of planning in a new direction is worth it.  It gets hard to focus on the details needed because the climb seems so daunting.  We won’t give up, but something inside wants us just to do what we did last year or wing it.  I am at that point.  How about you?  I will push through it, but I am just there.

But I won’t give up, and I will keep going.  So will you.  And you know why?  It is because we know a secret.  It is this secret that we live by in these times, and it is this secret we hope to pass on to our students.

There is a often quoted, and probably cliche, Chinese proverb by Laozi that sums up the secret.  Here is the traditional translation:

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Or, another translation:

The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet.

The secret is this.  No matter the odds or the pain of disappointment, we keep moving.  We set a destination and move towards it.  We power through.  We keep taking the steps.  No matter the situation.  We know where we need to go, and we keep trying to get there.  Step by step.  Even if those steps are baby steps at times, we keep going.  We keep soldiering on!

In my case, I am looking for the little things I can do to push me forward.  I am trying to break my big goals into smaller steps.  I am finding little areas of planning that are very real and easy.  This way, as I am pushing through the hard parts of starting the climb I am still moving in very real and measurable ways.  In a few days or a week, I will be able to look back and see that I am actually gaining ground.  That will push me to keep climbing!

What about you?  What are you doing?  Are you planning for the next year?  Are you still teaching right now and in one of those spots that happen during a school year?  What do you need to focus on?  What little steps can you take to keep you taking the big steps?

Never forget…no matter how impossible the journey, JUST START SOMEWHERE!  Each little step makes a big difference!  And remember, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

No matter where you are or how you are feeling, I know that you will press on.  You are awesome!  You are amazing!  And you are making a difference!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher



I am a middle school teacher who lives in the upstate of South Carolina.

10 thoughts on “Small Steps that make Big Differences

  1. I teach at a selective school in Australia (where students sit an exam to enter and are generally high achieving and committed to learning). I generally don’t have to worry about whether or not I can motivate them, but I often worry that I will fail them in terms of pushing them to reach the intellectual places they are capable of reaching. I am just about to face the trial exams with them for their university entrance exams. This is the last big in-school assessment that will contribute toward their Higher School Certificate grade that will place them at university.
    Each year that I teach I think of new and better ways that I could improve their performance and I spend most of my waking hours reading, studying, learning, creating lessons. It is good to know that others are out there doing the same.

    1. Dear Teacher Cheryle,

      Thanks for commenting and sharing about your commitment and resolve to make sure that your students get everything they need from you as a teacher and that they will move to the next level in learning! It can be hard and a daunting task. I teach in pretty much the opposite situation as you, but the expectations and goal setting for me as a teacher is very similar. I know that you will have a great year! Keep on planning and keep on teaching! You are awesome!

      Love, Teacher

  2. Wow! It is amazing to see that there are so many interpretations to your message. I ended my school year early with a major ankle surgery. In my mind I would bounce back fast. Even though ahead of my healing schedule, summer is about gone. This letter was a great focus for me to stay strong and focus on the day to day healing gains. Once again you rock! It is too bad our passion and after hours time and dedication does not get weighed into our students scores. Your letters have been lifting my spirit, thank you.

    1. Dear Teacher Christina,

      It is amazing to see how different perspectives can see different things…yet still common feelings and stresses are among all teachers. Glad to hear that you are healed up! Now hit the ground running! You don’t have a lot of time left, but you still have time. The long road ahead of you starts with a step. Start stepping the your healed up ankle! You are awesome! Keep planning and keep teaching!

      Love, Teacher

  3. Your comments are perfect.
    Why on a Wednesday night during Summer vacation am I on line trying to set up the classroom curriculm? anxious about all that has to be in place for day one.
    my district has gone to IMS and the system is down more than it is up.
    as an older teacher, I just want a back up plan when technology does go down.
    “I would like lesson plans for now computers”?
    What a new world of reciving information, but learning is still learning!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.