Doing the Same Thing Every Day vs.

Doing Just a Little Bit Extra Every Day

(1.00)365 = 1.00

(1.01)365 = 37.78

Small, consistent effort is the key. Whether it is learning a new teaching skill, developing sound classroom management, acquiring a new language, or instilling habits in yourself and your students, consistency is the key. And you don’t need herculean efforts. Just a little at a time will do.

Trying to do it all at once is too much, but doing just a bit every day adds up after a while. As the folk saying goes: By the mile, it’s a trial—but by the inch it’s a cinch.

I was understandably a bit nervous with my first teaching job—especially with lesson planning. How could I predict how quickly students would pick up the material I intended to teach? At lunch that first week I was talking with another newly hired teacher and asked him if he was nervous about lesson planning. He said that he already had all of his lessons plan done for the whole year. I couldn’t imagine how that was possible for a new teacher, and I asked him about it. He proudly pulled out a rather beat-up notebook and showed it to me. It had his name, Mr. ______ on it, and sure enough, there were lessons plans for the whole school year in there. All kinds of worksheets, activities and assessments with his name at the top of each one.

“I’ve got it all here; don’t need to change a thing,” he proudly proclaimed.

“What? How? What do you mean?” I said

“Those are the lessons plans that my dad used at this school for the last 25 years. He just retired, and I took his place.”

That is a textbook case of doing the same thing every day that could easily turn into doing nothing for an entire career, make that two careers. Mr. ____ ‘s father started at 1.00 and the younger Mr. ____ was apparently planning on taking his father’s one year of experience and finishing his career at 1.00 too. Decades of not trying out new ideas, different materials or updated methods, even though the students are changing all the time. It doubtless gave him more free time, but I can’t imagine it was fulfilling, or even interesting work.

I went back to my classroom determined not to be that guy. I started working on my lesson plans. Updating, revising, reflecting on what worked, and what didn’t, and why. And I haven’t stopped.

That’s how to do it, my friends. Baby steps, or as we say in Spanish,

Poco a poco se va lejos.

Little by little one goes far.