Whether it was a new school, team, grade level, curriculum, or, of course, a group of students, we all experienced some type of change this year. If the change required us to adopt new patterns of behavior, we can find comfort in knowing that new behaviors don’t happen overnight, but when we make micro-shifts each day, the tiny increments of change day in and day out will have a cumulative effect.
A second-grade teacher recently told me she was having a difficult time meeting with individual students. She was used to staying in place and having groups come to her, so standing up and moving to confer with individuals didn’t feel natural or comfortable yet. Her honesty and her ability to articulate the heart of the change enabled us to determine what steps she could take.
We came up with small shifts in behavior that would lead to her desired goal. Her first step was to stand up and just walk around after she finished meeting with a small group. She did this once, and then a second time, and on the third time she sat down next to a student and conferred.
Micro-shifts in behavior are small and doable. When we start this way, we experience success and are likely to continue. For example, if we want to confer with students each day, we’ll work with one student today. If we want to teach brain-compatible focus lessons, we’ll teach one lesson today that focuses on just a single teaching point. If we want our students to be independent, we’ll teach them how to build stamina with Read to Self. If we want assessments to inform instruction, we will assess one student today.
Then, we keep doing those things, every single day. We’ll get used to conferring with a student and want to confer with more. We’ll see the follow-through with the brief focus lessons and want to teach more brain-compatible lessons. We’ll see that our students have more reading stamina and don’t want to stop reading, so we will extend their time. We’ll experience the deep understanding we get of a student from assessing them and will want to find out more about the other students too.
We may not think what we did this morning by meeting with one student was important, but it was, or that teaching students to read independently for three minutes made a difference, but it did. The more I work with teachers and students and learn to embrace change myself, the more convinced I am that the road to success is paved with cobblestones just like these.