Little Things


Maybe I should phrase this as a question rather than a statement: “Little Things?”  These things may seem little to the teacher, but are very big to the children.

“Look, Miss Birt!  Mrs. S wrote something on my paper!  What does it say?”  When the music papers were graded, the note “Great” was added to the check-mark for completion.  That made the day for the student who proudly showed the comment and talked about how the teacher had written it.  Sure, it took some extra time on the part of the teacher, but I think was worth it to see the delight of the children.

“I made a picture for Mrs. Y but she never hung it up.  She didn’t have any space.  She didn’t take hers down and take them home like you do,” said the artist child to me after she saw her painting and collage hanging on my cupboard door.  Another little thing?  To me, yes, it was little, but  it was important to this child.  My classroom cupboard and closet doors were full of these gifts, so I told the students I appreciate all these things that they share and when the doors are filled, I take the papers home and then I can start over.

Some “little” gifts displayed in my classroom:

  • a large red ‘B’ that was cut out of wood by a dad and painted and decorated by the child who proudly presented it to me
  • several watercolor paintings
  • a large “Miss Birt” cut out of connected letters (about two feet long)
  • a collage made of lots of tape on crunchy leaves, a hot-glued stick, and fabric owls.  (“I did the hot glue all by myself!  I did get burned!” was the report.)

“I liked him.  He always listened to our stories,” said one of the boys about his grandpa’s hired man who had just passed away.  Again, it may seem like a little thing to listen to the stories of a small boy, but it was very important.  This comment really struck me, as I thought of what this child remembered about the hired man.  “He listened.”  How easy it is to be in a hurry and brush off little comments.  I wonder how much I miss by not always listening to the little things.

Oops… I missed this little thing.  In sorting through my collection of gifted pictures and writings, I didn’t see the actual little things – eight tiny hearts that were cut out and given to me in a large envelope.  A little thing, but made especially for teacher.

I didn’t catch another “little thing” today – a foot proudly held out, and the question asked, “Did you see I got new shoes?”  I hadn’t noticed, and was sorry I hadn’t commented on the new shoes because I know that is very important.  I did talk about them then, and the child beamed.

Little things?  Yes, they may be little things in my eyes, but if they are important to my students I want to deem them big things as well, and take advantage of these opportunities to affirm my students and validate their gifts, thoughts, and feelings.  I am thankful the Master Teacher does not turn away from my little things!

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