Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Navigating the turns

"In our cars we spend 95% of the time going straight, but it's the turns that determine where we end up."

Have you ever felt like you sometimes just go through the motions?  We all have those days where we might feel as if we are just “cruising along” not paying close attention to everything going on around us.  Whether we are interacting with a child, teaching a lesson, communicating with parents, communicating with other teachers… sometimes we just stay the course and don’t make those turns.
But what would happen if we did make those turns?  What would happen if we changed our course which affected how we interacted with a child, how we taught a lesson, how we communicated with parents, and how we communicated with our peers?  On our journey, the turns will bring about change, allow us to take new routes (approaches) and might even result in a wrong turn.
Bringing about change
Start small… don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.  There is no need to start from scratch with everything!  When you are ready to bring about change in the classroom, evaluate what you would like to change by reflecting on these changes (why do you want to bring about change?  What are you hoping to get out of this change? How will this affect the children?  What support do you need to bring about this change?).  When you feel comfortable and are ready, just jump in and go for it!
Trying new approaches
Your co-teachers are a wealth of knowledge and experience.  Use them as resources.  Bounce ideas off one another.  Ask them for their perspective to get a fresh take on an idea.   No teacher is expected to re-invent the wheel.  Collaborating on student learning is the best way to try something new.
Making mistakes
After reading @twhitford’s most recent post (http://whittyplcguy.blogspot.com/) about fear in learning, I have thought long and hard about ways we can create environments where teachers are not afraid to make a mistake.  I saw this sign and thought what a perfect way to emphasize taking risks and making mistakes:

As educators, we need to model for our students our own ability to make mistakes.  When we are not successful in something, it is our First Attempt In Learning.  How we respond to that attempt sets the stage for our future attempts.  Students need to know it is okay to take risks and that failures are just our first attempts.  We need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and try, try again! 

Those little turns make all the difference – the difference in bringing about change, trying new approaches to learning, and not being afraid to make a mistake.


  1. A great post Matt! I may have to print off the FAIL sign for my staff and just have them hang onto it as a reminder. It's okay to make mistakes and we are a safe community to do that in. If we want kids to stretch and take risks, we have to accept that some of those chances will end up as failures and poor choices, but that is okay. Let's learn from that and move on. Take the turns and see where they take you. Love it!!

    1. Thanks, Tom. Taking risks is such an important part of learning and we have to remember that and value that part of the learning process