Baby Steps

Sometimes you have to start small.

This week, I learned that sometimes you have to break lessons down into smaller steps.  Baby steps.  You have to learn to walk before you can run.

Of course, I already know this rule.  I’ve learned it before.  I mean, it’s obvious, right?  All good teachers know how to take a task and break it down into its simplest parts in order for children to understand and absorb it.

But…  I got a little overzealous this week while my Second Graders were exploring information text.  The children were excited to research a question they had wondered.  The goal was to find an answer to their question in our classroom library and use this information to create a poster.  The students’ enthusiasm was contagious, and I was thrilled that they were so interested and engaged.  We broke out the crayons, markers, and big white poster paper.

As I was conferring with the kids and reading their research, I realized that I had missed a step.  A big step.  An important step.  In my zeal and enthusiasm, I had not taught my Second Graders how to organize their ideas into a coherent paragraph.  Their posters were beautiful– they included headings, illustrations, diagrams, labels and captions, but the information was not well-organized and sometimes it did not even answer the question!

So, what did I do?  I stood in front of my class and confessed that I had made a mistake.  “I was so excited!”  I admitted sheepishly.  And then we broke out the power writing umbrella organizers.

Baby steps.  You have to learn to walk before you can run.  Baby steps.

Also this week (but unrelated to my non-fiction misstep), I had a breakthrough in my technology learning.  I created my first iMovie.  Without having any prior experience with this software, I visited a colleague’s classroom and watched her create a movie.

“Hmm.  It looks easy enough!”  I thought to myself.  However, when I opened iMovie on my own, without anyone there to support my learning, it was not nearly as easy as anticipated.  I played around unsuccessfully for a few minutes and then recalled Ashley’s post from earlier in the week.  Yep, I googled it.

After watching a tutorial online (which, by the way, was created by a boy who looked like he was in sixth grade), I was finally able to put my imported video clips in order.  I had to watch the video a few times to see the steps broken down for me.  Once I got the hang of using this new tool and gained confidence, I figured out ways to improve my very basic movie, such as adding titles and even short music clips.  To say I was proud of myself is a HUGE understatement.  Is it the most professional, seamless movie?  No.  Is it a successful first effort?  Absolutely.  Now that I’ve made an iMovie, I can certainly use this tool again and expand on what I learned.

“Hmm.”  I mused.  “This is how our kids feel when they get it.”  All learners, whether children or adults, need to start small.

Baby steps.


Learner, Thinker, Writer:  Samantha Steinberg teaches Second Grade at Trinity School.


7 thoughts on “Baby Steps

  1. Rhonda Mitchell

    Congratulations on the iMovie! It is awesome that you shared how your enthusiasm both caused you to move a little too quickly and then pushed you into something new. Both were successes because you learned or relearned something in each time.

    • Thanks, Rhonda! I do like the term “relearning” because sometimes I need to learn the same lesson more than once in different contexts. Next year, I certainly won’t forget to teach power writing prior to expecting students to write to inform; however, I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last time I stand up in front of the class and say, “Oops, I made a mistake!”

  2. I loved reading your post, SS. I can see you standing and front of your class and saying, “I just got so excited!” What a wonderful model that was for your kiddos. And it’s clear that by putting yourself in the same shoes you children were “wearing” was important — for you and for them. Sounds like you had a real “yes…and” moment even if it was easy to go to a “yeah…but” one. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Maryellen Berry

    Samantha, one of the things I like best about this post is that you admitted to your class that your enthusiasm got the best of you and that you made a mistake. How healthy for them to hear that from someone they respect. It reminds me of a section in Dr. Robert Brooks book, Raising Resilient Children, that we read several years ago in which he recommends filling a jar with a marble every time a person in your room makes a mistake – with the teacher taking the leading marble. When the jar is filled, the class has a party! The point being, that we learn and grow from mistakes

    Congratulations on the iMovie, too! Love that you learned from a fellow teacher and then reviewed using Google!

  4. I totally agree, Samantha! What a lovely post! I admit my mistakes all the time to my class, especially when I’m drawing in front of them. But that’s what erasers are for. And learning from mistakes is the BEST way to learn.

  5. Leave it to the art teacher to find the metaphor of the eraser!

    Thanks for the reminder of the power of mistakes. As someone who struggles to admit that I make them, I was especially moved by your willingness to share with your class. I’m going to try that…my Sixth Graders will be pleasantly shocked!

  6. Samantha,
    I see this is an archived post but I’m grateful to see it now. Being reminded that it can take baby steps to move toward goals is a helpful one.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *