It takes guts to step out on a limb and try something new. This is where I find myself right now (hence, my first blog post ever). Out of my warm, cozy comfort zone. And it's a great place to be. You see, with growth comes discomfort. With growth comes fear of the unknown. With growth also comes well...growth. I'm a husband, dad, teacher, master's student, football coach, student council sponsor, team leader, advisory committee team member and I'm about to completely rework the way I teach my students (flipped class, PBL, more tech, less paper). I'm definitely out of my comfort zone. A mentor of mine once put it this way: "Healthy things grow. Growing things change. Change is a good thing!" So what does it take to successfully navigate the waters of change?
It takes courage.
Courage is defined as the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger or pain without fear; bravery (dictionary.com, 2014). Oftentimes people are afraid of change. Why? Typically, in my field, it boils down to more work; more effort. Really? I'm going to be afraid of change that will undoubtedly improve the educational climate of my classroom because I'm lazy? Come on. Let's face it. Teachers can be as lazy as students sometimes. I'm guilty (or have been before). That changes now. Is it scary? A little. Is it going to be more work? Yes. Is it worth it for the students on my campus? Absolutely.
It takes confidence (see last word of previous paragraph).
Confidence to make decisions that we know will be best for our students. Maybe it's incorporating something new into your class. The push for a few years has been technology. Maybe this year will be your first shot at it. If we do not exude confidence in the fact that what we are doing in our classes will benefit our students (and that it's exciting) our efforts will fail. Miserably. And guess what...that's OK.
Because it also takes humility.
We are going to fail. My students know this. Failure has to be an option for them (not an expectation...an option). If they never fail, they will never know how to recover. Pick themselves up, dust off and press on. Do I want them to fail? Of course not. Do I allow them to fail? Yes. What better time to fail than as a student? What is the worst that happens? They lose their iPhone 5s for a week? Not quite as bad as getting fired from their first job out of college. The kicker is not allowing them to stay there. This is where we come alongside our students and in humility tell them, "I've been where you are. I know it's hard. You have to push through it." We take their hand (figuratively) and wade with them through the waters of failure and teach them...
It takes grit to be successful in times of change. It's going to be hard. I said failure is an option. I never said anything about quitting. We must be the example for our students. Push through the hard times. Allow them to see that we identify with them. THAT is an integral part of their education. THAT is invaluable.
Brent Clarkson, M.Ed.