2/13/2016 8 Comments
I love teaching. I love observing and coaching teachers. It's true. I love it. It feeds me. I want to be in your classroom. I want to walk the corridors of your school. Yes, you. I want to see you try to utilize iPads or Chromebooks with your students for the first time. I want to see you take your first crack at using a Learning Management System with Google apps for education. I want to see you make an effort to get kids utilizing digital content to problem solve and create new products. It's in these moments that I see you grow, and I joyfully observe and coach as you move along the proficiency spectrum in your craft. You become a better teacher than you were the day before, and I love that. Because it's in these moments that I know your students stand to benefit most from your work. I'm humbled by your efforts and grateful for the gift you are to children.
Here's what I don't care to see: Immediate "Success"
- I don't care to see you successfully teach your "favorite" lesson
- I don't care to see you successfully teach the lesson you've taught the same way for the past 20 years.
- I don't care to see you successfully do what you've always done, the way you've always done it. Even if it's incredible. (And I'm sure it is.)
Why don't I want to see these things? Because in these moments there is nowhere to grow. I can't help when you showcase mastery. As such, our subsequent coaching conversations will do nothing to help your kids. We can't prioritize our desire for validation from observers at the expense of developing a new skill set.
Show me a moment in your classroom that is new, where the potential for failure and success are separated by a single choice. Why? Because failure is the most spectacular teacher. And if you experience it, failure will give you more than I ever could.
We shouldn't shield ourselves from the potential for failure. When we avoid innovation in our classrooms in favor of familiarity, we choose safety over students. We choose insulation over innovation.
Instead, we should wrap ourselves periodically in the presence of failure (or its potential) so that we can feel it and understand our power to emerge from it. When we do, we are wiser, more adept, and victorious over its power to cripple our progress in a profession that means more to the world than any other.
If we choose the status quo over risk, we create a reality that is contrary to the truth we speak to our students. The truth that learning is powerful. That anything worth learning is challenging, and that failure in the pursuit of learning and growth is not forever; it is feedback. If the adults in their lives don't model this publicly, the fear of failure and the reluctance to immerse in the experience of learning will engulf students in their adult lives and render them helpless in the face of an otherwise marginal bumps in the road. So for the sake of your teaching and the sake of their learning, get out there! Try that thing that terrifies you in the classroom. At worst, you'll fall flat on your face. (Been there, done that!) At best, you'll immerse yourself in learning and growth, becoming a better teacher than you were yesterday.