Learning The Art of Teacherly Love

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 10 2012

“Sweat the Small Stuff”

At Mastery, we have many mottos and mantras, but one of the all encompassing, everyday values we abide by as a “Master-ific” way of life: “Sweat the Small Stuff.”
Now, in terms of Mastery’s vision of what it means to “Sweat the Small Stuff,” it may appear that we are being “strict,” “rigid,” and “controlling” at times.  In reality, we just want our students to see, understand, and experience the fact that their education is serious business; in fact, it is the most important business, to us, and to them.
We convey this message to our students in many tiny ways, all day, everyday.
We “sweat the small stuff,” from their brains to their feet; their attitudes, body language, the way the speak-it all says something about the students they are, and at Mastery, we have professional students.
Professional students must look, act, and be the part at all times.  Hence, why we even “sweat the small stuff” in their uniforms; navy shirt, navy pants, black shoes, shirts tucked in, black belt, appropriate hair attire, black or white socks.  Yes, we check all of this, everyday.  They are learning to be professionals.  We are, after all, preparing them to become real professionals, leaders, and game-changers, someday.

And then there is Room 306…
Like everything else we do in our classroom, we follow the Mastery ways; we “sweat the small stuff” everyday.
It just looks a bit different.  We are, after all, an exceptional group of Mastery students.

So, in our classroom, I like to say we “Celebrate the Small Stuff.”  Yes, I still enforce the tucked-in shirt policy, the perfect and silent hallway position policy, and all of the above. No student is let off the hook. We answer all questions in complete sentences, and everything we write, we write with perfect, correct, and complete sentences. But, more importantly, we celebrate more and stress less.

Celebrating the small stuff means, every tiny bit of progress we make deserves praise, a high-five, a reward, a dance party, and of course, a huge smile. :)

Take for example, today:
For the past 10 days, we have been working on identifying Story Elements in our Guided Reading books.  We have a picture, a word, and a description for each story element.  Everyday, for the past 2 weeks, we review the word, picture, description combination for each story element, then we identify them using our current reading books.  Each day, we have been getting closer, but not quite been able to recall each one correctly.  Maybe we could say that “Characters” are a part of the story, but we would identify the characters of our story by pointing to the author’s name on the cover.  Good effort-it is an important name, but not really a character.
And then… Today.  I asked the group, “What is a Setting?”  The poster with our reminders is at the front of the room, and yet, without even skipping a beat, one student answers, “The ‘When’ & The ‘Where.’”  He said it so matter-of-factly, too, like he had known this all his life.  I turned and gave him a huge excited smile and a high-five. :) He attempted to play it off, that he was just guessing, but I know he did not use the poster to remind him, and I know he LEARNED that.

That, is the “Small Stuff.”  Something as tiny as knowing what the setting is, yet, as big as realizing that your students ARE learning, and they DO listen to you (sometimes), and they ARE retaining new knowledge and making connections in their brains.

We Celebrate ALL the Small Stuff.

In my opinion, if more people did this throughout daily life, we would have much happier and healthier workers.
Celebrating progress, no matter how small, can keep you grounded in why you are here, and give you hope to keep working; it shines a light ahead of you, helping you to see, that yes, we have far to go, but we ARE in fact moving forward, towards our goals.

Sweat that small stuff!  And then, when it happens without you sweating… CELEBRATE it!  Look at how far you’ve come! :)

PS Philly Photo Recap:

My new, cozy, home decor from my “Secret Encouragement Sister” at school…
It’s a perfect reminder to Celebrate the Small, and Simple, stuff… Helping me to see the big picture more clearly!

Found this on the Teacher Appreciation Bulletin in the Lounge on the morning of our RP1 Celebration Day! :)

And then there’s this…
Report Period Benchmark Goal: “All friends will achieve 76% or better on the Math Benchmark.”

That goal was blown out of the water!


2 Responses

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  2. Thanks for this post. I don’t know a large number of links to forums but my friends seem to be able to spend a lot of time on them that’s for sure.

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Dare to Teach with Love… Never cease to Learn.

Greater Philadelphia
Elementary School
Special Education

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