Sunday, August 29, 2010

Taking risks and experiencing failure...the two perfect ingredients

Educators across the country are returning to their schools with fewer resources, larger class sizes, increased work loads, and the fastest changing student population ever...these challenges and setbacks do not excuse us from taking risks and doing whatever it takes to meet the needs of our students.

This school year several colleagues and I have chosen to implement some major changes in our classrooms.  These changes require that we invest more time, more of our energy, and have more patience.  The initial implementation stage is crucial to making sure these changes get off on the right foot.  Additionally, as with anything new, we must also accept the fact that when doing something new, you are never quite sure what the outcome will be.  The obvious question would be, "why did we choose to make these changes in our classes; especially since it requires more of our time and energy?"  I will speak for my colleagues here, but the answer to this question is simple...we chose these changes because we believe they are in the best interests our of students, and regardless of any challenges and setbacks, we have an obligation to do whatever it takes.

My colleagues and I have all taken a risk by incorporating new forms of technology and social media in our classrooms.  I know it is still early in the school year, but these changes have thus far proven to be both beneficial and positive changes.  I would be lying if I said everything has been positive.  These new changes have stirred up lots of opinions and feelings toward technology and social media in the classroom...change has a way of doing that to people.  I can honestly say I love hearing what other people think and believe when it comes to improving education.  Just as we teach our students, we should take information from several sources, and then construct our opinion based off of those pieces of information.  If somebody has good solid information about something I am doing that is wrong, you bet I want to hear about it.  However, finding out that something I am doing is wrong, and not as effective as I'd hoped, is not going to stop and prevent me from taking future risks to make education as applicable and relevant for my students.

We have all experienced failure in someway or another in the educational arena, the biggest difference is how we responded.  Did you swear to never take another risk again because of your fear to fail?  Did you isolate yourself from sharing and group collaboration?  Did you tell yourself to not rock the boat, and to just do what everybody else is doing?  Did you give up on yourself and the needs of your students...?  I hope, for your sake, education's sake, your children's sake, America's sake, and the future of the world's sake, you did none of the above.  Taking risks and experiencing failure are what make us human, and as educators we owe it to our students to continually search for new and improved ways of educating them in preparation for their futures.

I encourage you to take risks in an effort to improve education, and when you experience failure, use it as an opportunity to grow and further develop your skills as an educator.  Take failure, criticism and pessimism as roads on the journey toward success.  Never be afraid to try something, do something, or start something that you believe can improve the educational process.

"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go" - T.S. Eliot

Push yourself, push your students, take a risk, experience failure, grow from it, share your knowledge, take another risk, experience failure again, learn from it, share your knowledge, take a risk, positively affect others, make an impact, inspire, motivate, and be a leader...