The main reason why it is so important to be willing to get uncomfortable is because change can only happen in uncomfortable situations. In fact change creates discomfort. So if our goal is to avoid the unknown, squelch the uncomfortable feeling of uncertainty and refuse to release complete control – then we will avoid growth. Training ourselves to become comfortable in that sometimes awkward place of growth is very important to our development and it is crucial to inviting and implementing new methods in the classroom.
The idea that we can only learn from teachers is limiting because the truth is that we can learn something from everyone and when we have several brilliant minds in a room they become our best resource. To ignore them and to act as if they don’t matter and have nothing much of value to add is to neglect one of teaching’s greatest assets.
If the audience is the hero of the speech, then the students are the heroes of the teaching experience. Letting them have a say in the experience can enrich and guide it in ways the teacher would never have thought of. My students teach me about technology and give me feedback for our activities and the methods we use, but also help to determine the pacing of the class. It can be scary to efface the hierarchy and become fellow learners alongside our students, but it is also one of the greatest ways to build true relationships with them. These relationships will then allow for a safe place where respectful exchanges take place and growth will result every time. My students suggest ways I can improve the LMS, they provide feedback on the types of activities they want to do, they share their ideas and in the process they learn to trust themselves as I trust them.
Mistakes are not to be feared – I have a sign by the “check-in” station (where they check their work) that reads: “Never end on a mistake – LEARN from it.” I think that mistakes are terrific teachers. We often never forget those lessons because we were engaged in the process and this investment means that the lesson cost us something. Mistakes show effort – at least we are trying. They also shape us into who we are: erase all of my mistakes and you erase me. The growth mindset theory states that by engaging and making an effort I will grow my intelligence and my skill – no matter the initial outcome. So the simple act of trying something new, that simple effort, means growth. Whether the activity succeeds or not. If it fails we can learn from it and then we modify it until it works. There are unlimited chances for those that refuse to quit.
So growth = discomfort, and as innovators and pioneers in the classroom, that is where we want to be. Have a seat.