“Opportunities are rarely offered; they’re seized”- -Sheryl Sandburg
One of the first books I read that truly inspired me to take hold of my own future and run with it came from Sheryl Sandburg and her book, Lean In. If I waited for the invitation to take chances and change, there is a good chance I would still be waiting. Change is scary, and many don’t want to do it alone, but sometimes the road less traveled will open up a world you never new existed.
So where do you find opportunity for innovation in your classroom?
1. Find your passion
Once you have discovered your professional passion, one needs to hunt it down and create the opportunity you want. Just like a determined child after the cookie jar, we as educators who are trying to innovate our craft have to focus on what we love, and boldly pursue it with determination and persistence.
1. Make time for it
If you walk into the situation already stating, “there just isn’t time” then I can guarantee it will never happen. I really wanted to incorporate engineering in my classroom. It was not something the district told me to do, nor was there magical curriculum to make it work. I had to put the puzzle pieces together and find the time to do what I loved teaching, while at the same time ensuring that I am covering common core standards, all other district curriculum, etc. It took time to put this puzzle together, and I am still working on it, but if you are working on something you love, time does not matter.
2. Do not bite off more than you can chew
In the last two years I have adapted and changed a lot of my teaching practice piece by piece. But when it’s so easy now to find wonderful ideas, philosophies, and environments in classrooms around the world, you have to learn self control. Your heart says you want to do it all, but your mind needs to slow down the excitement. Don’t become the “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Instead, take change one step at a time so success can be obtained. I believe this allows you to gain the confidence you need so you can continue to grow.
3. Get creative
Teaching is an art, and we need to have the space as teachers to take all that is expected of us and make it into a beautiful 5 course meal. Adding ideas, combining things together, shifting schedules, and getting outside advice are all wonderful ways to make time and room for opportunity. It’s a messy process, but rewarding if you allow yourself to take chances.
So what do we do now as educators looking for change?
George Curous always seems to say all I am trying to convey, but it such a beautiful package of words, “Having the freedom to fail is important to innovation. But even more important to the process are the traits of resiliency an grit.”
It’s time for all teachers to find their village of support, dial into their passions, and find opportunities to take chances toward a better self. In other words…
We need to fail forward together.