It's The Little Things That Matter

By Bridget Belcastro posted 08-29-2017 13:51


It’s the little things that matter.

If you are an educator in Illinois, I am sure you are experiencing challenges with managing a building budget when one might not even exist. Our district has adopted austerity measures until the state passes a funding mechanism for the budget they passed in the summer. This derailed many of our plans to start the year. We had to find ways to get school started without our usual supplies. 

We were on our last roll of laminating film (that alone sends shudders of horror down elementary teachers’ backs), we hadn’t ordered our new library books, no new PE equipment or art supplies. We also couldn’t renew some of our online subscriptions we use for learning in the classroom.

Finally, we had to delay the purchase of Chromebook carts which would have allowed us to begin our 1:1 pilot in 4th grade. Needless to say, the teachers were very disappointed. They had worked hard all summer long to plan for transformational learning opportunities in their room. Now they would have to make adjustments since they wouldn’t have access to Chromebooks all day. 

The disappointment of my team was deeply felt in my heart. I sat down and got to work. I contacted some of our online vendors and worked out a delayed billing plan. Then I looked at the numbers of students and the number of Chromebooks we had and needed. I came up with a plan that should get us to the 1:1 within weeks of the state passing a budget and our district finalizing our own budget. 

This is a lot of back story to get to the little things that matter. But the night after I shared my plan with the 4th grade team, I got an email from the team leader. I’m going to include the whole thing here.

I can't thank you enough for working so hard to help us with Chromebooks. We were really feeling deflated. I know it means a lot to my team, but it really means a lot to me. That is one (of the many) things I love about having you as a boss - you get *#$! done!

This email stayed with me my entire drive home. I shared it with my parents. It really made me feel good. So when I got home, I sent emails to all of our new staff with positive messages. I got responses from all of them saying how much they appreciated it. One of them approached me the next day and said thank you for all of the messages I send to the staff and for the things I do for them. It makes her feel good knowing that she is starting her career in a school with such a caring staff who has each other’s backs. 

It’s the little things like those comments that matter. At the end of the day, teachers really want to know that they are supported, they are doing a good job, and that someone will have their back when needed. If that message is clear to my staff, I know I’m doing something right!