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.
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.