In one week I will be returning to the classroom with my students. To say that I am excited is an understatement. I have spent the summer reading both professionally and recreationally and am excited to talk about books and explore different ways to learn in the classroom.
I think it is important that students see us as lifelong learners. Modelling that established that school is not the end of ones learning journey. I have never understood the resistance to learn that some teachers develop as they progress in their careers. The I already know how best to do…attitude.
When I left University and had my first teaching job I encountered many teachers that I would classify as comfortable. They had taught the same thing for many years, got good enough results and could easily say their students had met the learning objectives. So why change? Why move away from the photocopies from 1960? Why move away from the D.O.L? Why move away from the theme units that have nothing to do with outcomes? Why move away from anything we are comfortable doing especially if it works?
I think those are all good questions.
I was watching QB One on Netflix the other day and the question “Do you want to be comfortable or Do you want to be great?” was asked of one of the lead characters. That line stuck with me. I am not implying that teachers that do the same things every year are not capable of greatness, they are. What I am wondering, however, is if our desire to remain comfortable is keeping us from being greater. Are we modelling for our students that trying new things, going beyond our comfort zone is the path to better or are we settling with good enough?
This year with my students I am going to focus on a few simple points.
Our Rules: Be Kind and Work Hard. Easy measures and easy things to demonstrate we are doing…or not.
The second simple point that I want to focus on this year and apply to our learning is the phrase above. Are we striving for comfortable or striving for greatness? Growing is an uncomfortable process, I mean where did the term growing pains come from? But in the end, the results are improvement.
I don’t want anyone to be confused with my point here and think I am asking you to throw away everything that you are doing just because you have done it before. We don’t need to throw out the baby with the bathwater but sometimes we need to change the water. Kylene Beers discusses the idea of innovation leading to “next practices”. We can never stop because we think we have reached “best practice” we must get uncomfortable and try new things. Our students may be getting a fine education but if we are not asking ourselves if they are getting the best, trying new things to determine what that best is we are letting them down.
When faced with the choice this year I hope my students will strive for Greatness over comfort but to do that I must do the same.