The Little Things

The Little Things

Randi Fielding Education

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Teaching is tough these days. No doubt about it. This blog post is not intended to minimize the very real suffering felt by teachers across Arizona. But it is meant to maximize the very real impact teachers are having on students and the school community.

As a teacher I remember being told, “It’s the little things that make a difference.” And I remember thinking that was BS. There was no way smiling at a kid in the morning or answering an angry parent email with compassion was making any kind of difference.

Ha, ha! Joke’s on me. Because now that I’m an administrator, I absolutely see the huge impact that those little things make.

Allow me to list a few “little things” I see teachers doing that makes a much bigger difference that they probably know:

  • Giving a kid a sticker for doing just one thing right, even though there were a dozen things he did wrong in the last ten minutes.
  • Sending students home with artwork. If you could see the pride in the eyes of the kids as they come out of the school holding their work. And the joy in the eyes of the parents as they come through the parent pick-up line. It’s pretty magical.
  • Assigning self-reflective writing prompts when students break classroom norms.
  • Willingly taking on an extra duty when their colleague is out sick.
  • Emailing admin right away when there’s something that needs attention.
  • Adding humor to direct instruction.
  • Analyzing student work—looking beyond handwriting and seeing the students’ thinking in their math problems.
  • Offer to help sweep the hallways.

These “little things” all happened within the last two days. It might have been hard for these teachers to go the extra steps, but the impact is real. When kids feel seen and appreciated for the many individualities they show rather than being labled as “bad” or “lazy” they are more likely to develop positive traits. When parents feel heard and understood, they are more likely to collaborate with us to solve problems. When teachers feel empowered to take ownership of their profession and act as leaders, they set an example.

Yes, it takes something out of you when you go further than you’re comfortable going. But it gives a huge amount to the community. Which hopefully gives back to you when you’re sick, or sad, or worn out, or make a mistake. Our community is here for you. And it thanks you for all the little things you do.


My education career started in 2006 when I began volunteering in my children’s elementary school. During the time my kids were little, I attended college part-time, taught Art Masterpiece, and volunteered in their classrooms. I fell in love with education and knew I wanted to become a classroom teacher. I eventually graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree from Arizona State University and became a first-generation college graduate. I began teaching in 2013 and have worked in special and general education, in elementary schools and high school. I’ve taught everything from reading and math to English, social studies, and strategies. I became a National Board Certified Teacher in 2017. Knowing that my impact could be greater than a single classroom, I returned to ASU for my Master’s Degree in Education Leadership and graduated in 2018. I’m now an administrator in a rural school district and use every bit of my background to connect with kids, teachers, and families. A theme throughout my life has been “Always Improving.” In addition to full-time work as an administrator, I support teacher growth in my school district by leading professional development and serving on district committees, teaching Pre-Candidacy courses and coaching National Board candidates. I’m also a member of the Arizona K12 Center’s Teacher Solutions Team and blog for Stories From School Arizona. Additionally, I’ve presented professional development at the state and national level at the annual AZCEC/AZCASE Conference and at the National Co-Teach Conference. When I’m not working, writing, or reading, I enjoy bicycling with my husband, hanging out with my kids, bullet journaling, and roller skating.

Comments 6

  1. Sandy Merz

    I’ve taken to “Weird Wednesday” assignments in math. Not every Wednesday, but once in a while. On one, when we were studying geometric transformations like reflections, translations, and rotations, I had the students analyze a video from “Mulan.” In the video, Mulan reflects on her identity while she herself reflects off things like a pond or her ancestors’ gravestones. I asked students to describe the mathematics of screenshots from the video and, more importantly, why the artists had made the choices they had. The students really got into it and no other lesson has gotten such engagement. It might seem like a little thing, but it’s a shame we don’t do things like that more often.

    1. Randi Fielding

      Hi Sandy, thank you for the comment! I love your idea of the Weird Wednesday math lessons. What I’ve noticed is that those extra things we do last longer in our hearts and memories. That’s why they make such a difference. Their impact is greater than the time it took to plan or execute them. And that’s why we don’t need to do lots of extra little things. But if we ALL do a few little things, the momentum builds and sustains itself.

  2. Jaime Festa-Daigle

    The little things develop the culture in our schools and become the things. We choose to make them positive things that build each other up or things that chip away at our culture.

    1. Randi Fielding

      Hi Jaime,
      Yes! The little things we choose to do or don’t do will build or tear down the culture. It’s our choice!

  3. Kyle Bragg

    Hi Randi! I completely agree. Adding the “little things” can sure add up to some BIG things over time. I liked the one about teachers noticing the positives and bringing that to their attention rather than the negatives. I also like the one about teachers helping clean or do whatever the school might need that day. For example, we didn’t have a sub today, and my principal jumped in to teach the class. Now THAT is leadership. If she can do the little things with everything on her plate, so can everyone.

    1. Randi Fielding

      Hi Kyle, thank you for the comment! Yes, those little things can be BIG in the eyes of the recipient. The impact is so real!

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