Big Picture, Small Steps

Close your eyes.  Picture your classroom.  Picture what a typical day looks like.  What are your kids doing?  What are you doing?  Where is the furniture?  What’s on the walls?  Now picture the classroom you want to have.  Are the two pictures the same?  

I began my first year of teaching with a big picture of what I wanted my classroom to look like.  That was four years ago.  Spoiler alert-it still doesn’t look that way.  In fact, my big picture has now grown into an assortment of little-big pictures.  I have a big picture for the open layout of my classroom, a big picture for student-created wall space, a big picture for joyful and authentic learning, a big picture for inquiry as a centerfold for instruction, a big picture for my teaching being accessible to all learners, a big picture for growth in each of my students…the list goes on.  

These pictures inspire me, overwhelm me, and most importantly, they keep me going.  They keep me questioning, reflecting, changing, learning, talking, and sometimes they keep me up at night.  

Luckily, I’m surrounded and supported by a community of fellow thinkers.  Kristine Mraz, my colleague and inspiration in starting this blog asked a question that I think about each time I picture my classroom, “How do our classrooms today reflect the world we live in, and the world we want to live in? Would you want the rules of your classroom to become the rules of the world?”  You can check out Kristi’s brilliant thinking here,  

Now if you picture the world you live in and the world you want to live in, you will most likely see two different worlds, like your two different classrooms.  Maybe you are picturing a kinder, more sustainable world like me.  Maybe you are seeing a similarity between the classroom you want and the world you want.

I don’t need to tell you that you can’t get the world you want overnight.  I’ve learned (after a lot of disappointment) that you can’t have the classroom you want by tomorrow either.  There’s not one BIG change you can do to make your BIG picture a reality.  So you are left with a choice:  To keep living the way you are living, teaching the way you are teaching, or to start with one small step.  

One small step can take us one step closer to a big change.  For the big picture of a more sustainable world, that small step might look like switching to cloth or compostable bags (any other dog owners out there go through five a day?).  For my big picture of authentic and joyful readers, it might look like adding a Star Wars bin to my classroom library.  

If you are like me, and have a lot of little-big pictures for your classroom, start with just one.  Pick one that inspires you the most.  One that is most needed this week.  Now think of one small step you can do to make that picture a reality. Talk about it with someone, hopefully your colleagues, who might have the same picture. Talk about the things that worked, the What was I thinking?’s, and the beautiful moments when your classroom felt like that better world.  

As for me, I will be sharing my small steps here-the steps that brought me closer and the steps that took me farther away from my little-big pictures.  I hope you take this journey with me and share your big pictures and small steps in the comments along the way!



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