Sticking Your Neck Out

Raise your hand!

cc licensed (by) flickr photo by DucDigital

Were you the kid in class who enjoyed the lessons your teacher taught, eagerly raising your hand to participate, or were you one of the cooler kids who sat in the back row?  I really wanted to be like the kids in the back row, but I couldn’t help it… I was a keener.  I loved learning, and I still do.

That’s why memories of elementary school have been creeping into my thoughts lately since I’ve been exploring new ways of teaching and learning.  I feel like a complete geek.

Last school year, I realized that I had become exactly what I didn’t want to become: bored.  I had developed some really good lesson plans, and my binders were efficiently organized with plenty of projects for each grade.  After repeating some of these lessons year after year, though, I began to wonder if I would simply rely on the same materials to instruct students.

Sharing these concerns with my principal was the beginning of a shift in my career.  Being introduced to Twitter and having the opportunity to begin blogging allowed me to find other educators with similar interests.


cc licensed (by) flickr photo shared by brunkfordbraun

When you begin to do things that are not like everyone else, you take a bit of a risk.  If you’re like me, you might be reminded of geeky school days where you were one of the (seemingly) few who enjoyed participating in school.  As a teacher, you may wonder at the irony of an educator who may shy away from investigating something new.

Is it wrong to be curious?  Is it wrong to play with new gadgets?  Is it wrong to explore and experiment?

By embracing and celebrating the passion that is at the core of human curiosity, we need to push past the tendency to blend in.  Too often, people are afraid to do something different for fear that they may stick out only to be ridiculed.  Michael Fullan explores the issues behind teacher motivation in Professional Capital — a book that was commented on at the recent #ecoo12 conference (I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!).  As Fullan explains: “The change we are talking about will necessitate that early instigators are prepared to overcome stereotypes as well as the fatalism and fear of others”. (thanks for sharing this quote, Donna!)

It’s so much easier to try new things when you have support.  Thank goodness there are ways to find others who are interested in exploring new ideas and techniques.  …and believe it or not, even though you may feel isolated in your school as you try something new, you may just be inspiring someone else to change.

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6 Responses to Sticking Your Neck Out

  1. fryed says:

    I was. ‘geek’ in school too! There is nothing wrong with being curious Imagine life without curiosity.

  2. fryed says:

    I should add that this Principal-geek was commenting (above) in the dark, under a table while participating in another event and her thumb typing on her iPhone was a bit off- kilter!

    Once again, Colleen, thank you for having the courage to “stick your neck out” and share.

    Admittedly, I still have work to do in this area. I thought I was the only one who was afraid to look silly and was reluctant to “stick my neck out”, but over the past year I have heard so many stories of teachers who face barriers to being innovative in their practice. You are modelling for others the importance of being courageous and sharing your journey. I am a better practitioner from having the opportunity to learn from your learning and sharing.

    You are a catalyst in encouraging others in education to be brave and get out of their comfort zones. Responding to student interest and curiosity, modelling risk-taking and the willingness to make mistakes are classroom practices that engage learners. The boundaries of “school” and “not school” blur and we just become learners together.

    Your sharing creates powerful learning for others on many levels. Keep it up!

    • colleenkr says:

      The image of your multitasking moment to fit in a comment for me sure does make me smile! 🙂 You knew I was nervous — thank you so much for calming me at the time when I exposed these worries.
      As we strive to investigate this unchartered territory, we are continually called to maintain balance time & again. I find my struggle lies in maintaining firm educational standards while complementing the learning experience with so many new things. Report cards and evaluation are a reality that I must face, but I’m so busy assessing and providing feedback and tweeting and blogging… but this is just another side to consider while thinking of all aspects of moving forward.
      Change is happening, and I think we can take comfort in that. Things may not happen at the speed we hope for, but as long as we’re taking steps together, we’re not turning around and heading for the hills.

  3. Totally with you there – we seem to be on the same page Colleen! Glad to have connected to you. Perhaps we should joint blog! I wasn’t the one with my hand up but certainly the one who loved going to school! Forever learning.

    • colleenkr says:

      Thanks Nicki, I’m so glad we’re connecting. Forever learning is right! A joint blog is certainly a possibility, and possibly after report card time I’d love to explore some possible themes for us to talk about. We’re on the right track.

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