Monday, July 30, 2012

“That’s One Small Step for Teachers, One Giant Leap for Students.”

Okay, so the original quote from Neil Armstrong was, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." I cannot imagine the bravery it took to take the first step on the moon. Armstrong’s words strike a cord with me as a teacher. Improving the learning environment just takes one step. Trying something new can be scary. What if you fail? What if you feel you are not prepared for what you will face? What if others tell you that the idea will never work with your students? But only those who are brave enough to try, experience things few others have.

Using a classroom blog was that “first step” for me. Our tech coach mentioned the blogging resource called kidblog. ( ) I decided to try it with my class since it was the last few weeks of school. I thought it would be a tool for students to practice writing in a digital format. I never imagined that through the blog, my second graders would pose critical thinking questions to their classmates, share educational conversations, learn other technical skills, and inspire my reluctant writers. It opened my eyes to what students can do. This one “step” caused such a leap in my students’ learning that I was ready for more.

So are you ready to take that step? Here are some tips:

  • Remember it’s a SMALL step. Find one area to change in your teaching this year.What is something you can do differently that will increase learning in your room?
  • Find others who are innovative. I highly recommend Twitter for this. Twitter is a place to connect to the most passionate teachers around the world. Follow their tweets, click their links, ask questions and try something new.
  • Realize it’s okay if it takes time. New ideas evolve and change. Rarely do we get it right the first time. We learn as our students learn.
  • Ask someone to try it with you. Whether this is someone in your school or someone online, collaboration can minimize fear because you are not alone. You can discuss ways to improve ideas and celebrate classroom victories together.

This is the year to try it. Be brave! Take that step and see where your students leap.

~Carol McLaughlin, NBCT  


  1. Great Post! It made me think "the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". Teacher leaders are so often taking these steps alone that I found it very exciting that you included the step of inviting someone to come along! Together we can do so much! NBCTs can also help other teachers by introducing them to the process or working with a superintendant or building administrator to bring Take One to the staff. I can't wait to hear about the great changes that the small steps lead the NBCTs of Alabama!

  2. Thanks Michelle! It's so much easier when you include someone else. We each have our own gifts and by working together, you benefit by sharing them. My weakness will be another teacher's strength. I would advise everyone to choose someone who is a positive person but those are usually the ones who want to try new ideas anyway. :)