Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Roadblocks to Innovation #SAVMP

(Image shared by William M. Ferriter)

As I wind down from the high of the first couple weeks of school starting, I cannot help but feel exhausted.  It has been a string of long days, late nights, and very early mornings. As I try to wrap my head around how I am going to organize my lessons and content for the next week, I cannot help but feel like every idea, every plan I had, just isn't good enough.  In fact, I am so dissatisfied with my current plan of action that I am left feeling a little helpless and lost.

The fact of the matter is that I can no longer bring myself to teach content or lessons in a silo. I feel a huge sense of regret when I think about doing anything in my class that students cannot find relevant, relate to personally, or challenges them to grow and change. Any moment they are not on the edge of their seats with excitement I feel like I am failing them.

Over the last couple weeks I have absolutely loved teaching. I have seen and heard profound and beautiful ideas from my students. They have made me laugh. I have stood observing in complete awe of their kindness and care for one another and towards me.  These last couple weeks have been some of the greatest highlights of my teaching career. I have also loved sharing these lessons and learning moments with my PLN.  If what we are doing is not worth sharing with the world, is it worth even doing at all?

So what's the problem? Why is this week so much harder?

The question I keep going back to is how innovative do I have to be?  What is the expectation? What separates the mediocre from the truly great?

Because, the truth is, innovation is exhausting.

This, of course, does not mean I do not strive for amazing "lessons" that reach and move all students everyday. I push, guide, and support my students to stretch their thinking and abilities to the point of amazing themselves in every discussion and piece of literature and writing. But I have to be okay with the fact that everyday will not be a homerun.

Like most of my students, my biggest roadblock when it comes to innovation and success is fear. At a deeper level, I am the obstacle. I second guess. I lack confidence. I am scared. No amount of external support can really combat these blockades; it has to come from within me. Sometimes this shift from the center of my comfort zone to the unknown is exhilarating. Other times, it is paralyzing.

If I have learned anything during my journey over the last couple of years to transform my teaching, it is that nothing great happens without risk. Risk, usually, is like jumping out of a plane. It is simultaneously the most terrifying and more exciting thing you will ever do. Some days are spent waiting safely on the ground, other days are like looking down from the plane waiting to jump.  If you commit though, if you leap into the unknown, it is unforgetable.

On your innovative journey, what is your greatest roadblock?  What stands in the way of making you and your students truly great?  What qualities do you have, deep inside, that will help unleash innovation in others when there is hesitation or fear?  What qualities do you have, deep inside, that are waiting to be unleashed?

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