I’ve been reminded multiple times over the past year that steps can vary in size. Some are small and delicate. They might even seem unimportant, but when combined they lead us forward. Others are big. Maybe at times feeling too big to complete and are sometimes left unstepped. These steps may not lead us forward all in one moment and may even feel like a wasted effort.
My One Little Word this year has been Step. At times, I have been stepping into unknown territory, left to navigate the direction or effort necessary. Others have felt uncomplicated and familiar. For every step taken I have felt gratitude for the pulse and rhythms that surround me. This little word housing four letters and one syllable has given me perspective and permission to step back as much as I step forward.
We always want to look ahead. We want to see what’s coming. Sometimes it is looking back at where we’ve been and how we have come to our current presence that really shows us how to place our next step.
As I look at the students in my room this year, each comes with different challenges and steps to take in their paths as writers. Helping them navigate their steps in their journey is my awesome responsibility and one I take very seriously. Showing students how far they have come and asking them where they want to go next is so much more motivating than always focusing on where they “should” go next.
There is worth in celebrating a student who began the year writing less than fifteen words on a page and has now tapped into his ability to write over a hundred words in a day when drafting.
There is worth in celebrating a student who used to respond to every question with “I have no idea.” This habit is slowly changing to “I did that all by myself.”
There is worth in celebrating a child bubbling with anger and asks to change his environment. Instead of shutting down, he moves to the doorway to finish his essay because his topic holds so much importance for him.
These three students may not reach every level of proficiency on a rubric, but they are taking steps. Hard steps. Our best and most important responsibility is to show them we see the steps. We see them. We won’t hold it against them if they take a step backward. We will let them fall a little and then help them back up to find the next landing pad. How are you helping your students look back at their steps?
Daughter, sister, wife, mother, teacher, and writer.