This evening, as we were discussing the future of education on #txeduchat, Vicki Davis tweeted out this wonderful piece of advice. I immediately thought of all of the changes that are happening in education and the changes that aren't happening because of fear. I also remembered reading a Twitter conversation in which Joy Kirr suggested "What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?" as an EdCamp session. So I started thinking, what would I do if I weren't afraid? What am I afraid of? What would happen if I conquered those fears and just did what I knew was best for my students?
I think many of us are afraid to be wrong. We are afraid of change because it means that we might have to change. We might have to do things differently and that might require risk and even failure. Many of us fear what others will think of us if we share our opinions or try something different in our classrooms. By allowing this fear to control us, we are unable to give our students the innovative and creative experiences that they need. Many of us fear test results if we stray away from test prep and worksheets. We know that we will be held accountable for these actions if our students do not perform well on their tests at the end of the year. Because of this fear, we stick with the safe and comfortable lesson plans. When the reality is that our students can learn so much more, including the standards, from learning experiences that encourage them to take risks, experience failure, and solve real world problems.
So, what would I do if weren't afraid? By nature, I am a very fearful person that worries so much about what others think about me and my opinions. I have to admit that since becoming connected, I have become much more outspoken about by thoughts and opinions when it comes to education. While I am very aware that I am not always right, I think it is so important to engage in conversations and create discussions that open doors for collaboration. Even so, there are still many topics and ideas that I shy away from because of fear...fear of rejection, fear of judgment, and fear of failure.
I spent some time this evening thinking about these things things. So, here is my list of things that I would do if I weren't afraid...
1) I would invite teachers into my classroom to see Genius Hour in action and watch as my students work on amazing projects that give them opportunities to learn by doing.
2) I would share my blog with teachers on my campus in an effort to start conversations and encourage reflection.
3) I would find ways to encourage our junior high and high school campuses to provide mentors and internships for students.
4) I would find more opportunities to speak up for change and would encourage others to do the same.
5) I would trust myself and know that as long as my students are the priority and I am attempting to make the learning meaningful for them, I am doing the right thing.
Being fearful doesn't bring change. I will never overcome my fears by doing nothing. Acknowledging them gives me a desire to conquer them. I don't want my students to suffer because I was afraid to try something new. Instead, I want them thrive and love learning because I was willing to go out on a limb and give them the opportunities that they deserve. So I will take Vicki's advice and will not fear change, but instead will recognize and fear complacency, mediocrity, and apathy.
So, I thought it might be cool to share the things that we fear as educators as an opportunity to support and encourage each other. What are some things that you would do in your classroom if you weren't afraid? Share them on Twitter using the hashtag #notafraidEDU or comment below.