Have you ever jumped into a body of water and been able to stop part way? If you have, can you show me how because to this point of my existence it has been impossible when I try? So far.
Defying all of the laws of Physics may not part of our human skillsets, yet. Perhaps with the aid of some bungee cords and a team of riggers, it is possible, but since most times when we take a leap(intellectual or otherwise), we do so without a team to save us.
Oddly enough, the leaps are often contrary to conventional wisdom and traditional thinking/practice. Society loves its non-conformists. As long as there are not non-comforming in their schools. Is it therefore heresy, innovation, boredom with the status quo, egotism, creativity in action, insight or indictment to break the status quo, take chances, or challenge authority/colleagues? Where does it fit in with your practice and pedagogy?
With or without a safety crew, I have always jumped into something with both feet. Knowing there is no way to stop once I’m in the air. Yes, I’ve climbed out and jumped somewhere else when the landing hurt. No, I did not land on anyone either.
Sometimes, I bounced out, unable to fit in with a particular ideology or methodology. What never changes as I try and stretch, and a leap and fall, and land/crash, is the need to keep looking for new places from which to jump with all the excitement and uncertainty that leaping, change and learning provide. A sort of educational thrill seeking if you will.
This is how I see my teaching style and I’m inviting other educators to step out onto the dock and take some leaps of their own. So often, the risk taker in all of us has been hushed by comfort, complacency, or fear. Trying new things is hard. What if no one likes it? What if I fail? How are your students supposed to take chances when you are clothed in bubble wrap yourself.
Our classrooms have to be shaped into an ultra-soft space for students to take their intellectual and emotional leaps with both feet without worrying about the landing or bouncing off the walls from time to time. It doesn’t mean they don’t feel a thud once in a while. It means that they will have a place to discover the limitless potential of their learning not the limit.
How do you see yours? When was the last time you felt free and safe enough to jump in with both feet not knowing how deep the waters?
How did it feel?
Always successful? Not yet.
Staying put? Never!
We owe it to our students to show how much there is to gain from trying new things, taking leaps into new spaces, and from thinking about how, when, and where we are going to land.
Over the next month, I challenge you to try something new in your classroom and share it with us.
Tag me on Twitter @willgourley and try to encourage others to do the same. Thank you for reading and happy landings.
Extra Reading for keeners