There are so many things competing for teacher’s attention. The focus on improving literacy and numeracy skills, questions about assessment, student engagement, parent engagement, technology integration, inquiry based learning, blended learning, on top of their requirement to actually teach students the curriculum. Just writing all of that in a sentence sent my head spinning. I’m a strong advocate for social media and the creation of a PLN but I completely understand the looks I get when I suggest something new for a colleague to try.
I truly believe that teachers want to do what is best for the students that they teach. They want them to learn, to grow and to become better people. The fact that there are so many things to try, to explore or to learn is stressful. Assuming that you have to tackle all the changes at once causes many teachers to give up before they begin. There is not a single teacher who is good at everything, just those who share what they do well and make it seem like they have all the answers. Don’t get caught up in the need to do it all, I’ve shared some simple tips below that can help put you on the path of exploration.
My advice to any teacher out there, who feels simply overwhelmed as to where to start; start small. Pick one thing you would like to work on and try it. Reflect on how it went, adjust the course and try again. Reflect once more, try again and then decide if your attempt worked. As a general rule, give yourself three honest shots at attempting a new technology, teaching style or assessment. If after three attempts it still isn’t working, move on. Find the next thing you would like to try and start the process over.
If your issue is not knowing where to start, find a friend you can bounce ideas off of. If you admire the methods of a fellow teacher, ask them how it works. Great things happen when you step out of your comfort zone and collaborate with others.
If the idea of finding someone to work with intimidates you, there is great value in Twitter. Creating a Twitter account and following other educators will help you find information, ideas and discussions that may just help you take the plunge. Creating a Twitter account doesn’t mean you have to share anything, simply following others and gathering information is a normal first step.
There is no rule about improvements in educational practice, just try something. It is ok to be fearful, to question your next step, but refusing to act at all is not an option. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Remember that failure sometimes gives us more insight than success.
If you are an educator wondering how to take the next step, make reaching out your first one. If you know someone on the edge, encourage them. Our student’s need us to face our fears and to begin changing our practice to encourage their success. How can you help be the face of change?