We have an awesome opportunity at Hobsonville Point Secondary School to be part of a team looking to redefine secondary schooling. And I really mean awesome – in all senses of reverence, admiration, fear etc.
It is an opportunity to do something completely out of the ordinary which sounds great but at times can be scary, uncomfortable and unsettling. Now, for me, I see this more on the excitement level of awesomeness but I’m also someone who is scared of heights but absolutely loved the Sky Dive I did a couple of years ago.
As teachers we expect students to be ok with being uncomfortable, learning new things every week and embracing the opportunities that exist. But, at times, we aren’t ok with being constantly in that situation ourselves. This post is essentially about encouraging teachers to embrace those challenges and be ok with being uncomfortable whilst you do so.
In a way, it’s really that first step of a Growth Mindset – embrace challenges
Embracing challenges is something that I feel quite comfortable doing and feel I do regularly. I have looked to challenge myself and sought new ideas throughout my 11 years teaching so far and have gained some awesome opportunities because of this. My recent post on starting into Maker Ed is a recent example of this.
Whilst reflecting on this recently, I re-watched this great TEDx talk from Dan Raven-Ellison on developing an Explorer outlook and have come to the conclusion that I am an Educational Explorer.
I actively seek new ideas and ways to extend my practice. If I see something interesting I will read about it, ask people involved for more info and give it a go to try it for myself. Even if it isn’t perfect first time you can iterate again to make it better. Awesome opportunities abound for us as educators if we look for them. The opportunities that appeal to me as a teacher and as a person may be completely different to the ones that appeal to you. But by keeping your eyes open, you give yourself the chance to take an awesome new path.
Looking to start exploring more educational ideas? Maybe you could join Philippa Nicoll from Samuel Marsden Collegiate in Wellington and take the 100 Day Challenge. A great example of a teacher taking the same big leap that she is asking of her Year 10 students.
Or take some inspiration from the best tweet I ever received and look for your next awesome learning path!
Make sure you also follow Alex Long as she is a young teacher who is really looking to seize the opportunities and make change at her school even though she is not the experienced or titled teacher that would traditionally be making decisions.
One of the first things you can change in your day to day practice to be able to seize the opportunities that exist is thinking about the language you use. Ban yourself from saying things can’t be done. Change “Yes, but” to “Yes, and” in everyday conversations and you start looking for ways that things can happen. It could provide an innovative twist to someone else’s idea in a way that will work better for your context.
This does not mean that you cannot challenge ideas! I strongly believe in challenge and critique. We have a saying that is a bit like an informal staff motto at HPSS: “Warm and Demanding”. Just make it a respectful and purposeful challenge, one that will help move thinking or the idea forwards. Not just a straight chopping down of the person and their idea. One of the best comments I ever heard from a Principal was when Maurie told new staff joining our team in Term 4 last year: “I have never been more thoroughly or respectfully challenged as I have been in this role at HPSS.”
Claire Amos has set a challenge for NZ educators to “Hack your class” in Term 2. This will involve us supporting each other to take those leaps of faith and make changes to our practices. It is a great chance to find more opportunities as we share ideas and show how we have tried it in our classrooms. If ever there was a time to seize the opportunities out there, this is it – you don’t have to do it alone! Lots of us online offering support and helping you pair up with people in your school, try some changes and then share with the wider group. I strongly encourage you to get involved with this!
A final plea to search for opportunities and seize them for yourself. Yes, it may be uncomfortable/difficult/emotional but the rewards can be amazing!
p.s. sorry if any of this got a bit preachy but it had been building for a couple of weeks…
Good good for thought. This really challenges one to think aboit their own attitude to change
Some changes excite me. Others leave me cold. I sometimes wonder if that has to do with where my interests lie or who is presenting the change or how that change is presented. Sometimes change is confronting and can be a bit demoralising. That is probably when we resist change the most. Do we stop and look at ourselves if that’s how we’re approaching change? (Are we capable of seeing that in ourselves when we’re in the situation?) Does the person introducing the change stop and look at how they are presenting the change when they encounter opposition? Like our students, we teachers all have our own learning styles, fears, prejudices, ignition points. Change will happen at different rates of progress for each teacher as learning does for each of our students. Don’t despair too much with those who seem resistant to change. They’ll get there, it’s just their route will have a few more hurdles than yours. Thanks for engaging my brain in this topic.
Thanks for the incredibly thoughtful comment. My challenge is not getting frustrated as I am quite impatient for change at times. I have been learning a lot from my Principal (and critical friend) Maurie Abraham these ast couple of terms. His insistence that all things follow the mantra of “warm AND demanding” is a great way to challenge and provide support to help people meet those challenges.
‘Warm and demanding’ is an interesting aapproach. As I reflect on PLD I’ve been involved with personally in the past, I can see which things I was most on board for.
Things that I can easily incorporate into my existing programme I’m easily on board with. But same changes have been big. What were the influencing factors of me making these changes:
* a principal who trusted that I knew what I was doing;
* great support from an RTLB who gave me time to see it in action in another class, support to make the resources, support to introduce the changes to the class;
* children in my class that needed the change in the progrmme, although it was also great for everyone else too.
Probably trust is the most important factor. My principal had to trust me and the RTLB. I had to trust my RTLB and the teacher whose class I visited. That teacher had to trust me as a visitor/observer. My RTLB had to trust me. Trust is a big factor. Encouragement goes a long way too.
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