Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Importance of Risk

There are times when I question my sanity. I have problems with the word "no" - I know this, but I embrace it because it leads me down roads I never dreamt I'd end up on.

On top of an already full plate of responsibilities I've added membership to the Pedagogical Licence (Advanced) community in a step towards attaining the third (and top) level of the Smart Classroom PD Framework. Looking at the course outline and sample portfolios over the weekend I have to say - I think I'm nuts.

This is going to be hard work. In this case a couple of things stand out as daunting:
  • Deep reflection is always hard. It's draining and challenging. The self-awareness that comes from it is always worth it, but the process is one I squirm about. I've always been the kind of person/student who is an over achiever, I'm never happy with scond best and reflecting on my practice opens me up for criticism and judgement. I've overcome my fear of not being "the best" to a large degree (otherwise there's no way I'd be able to blog as I do :)) but the level of reflection and deconstruction of practice expected of me for this aspiration and the sheer calibre of some of the others working through the course alongside me has me scared I'm not going to meet the standard...

Which brings me to the other reason I'm nervous:

  • Being in an environment of self-confessed over achievers is generally an intense situation, with a good dose of competition (friendly of course) thrown in. A number of names in the course I know from the network, from conferences, from rumours and hearsay (all good of course - in fact generally glowing about what they are doing in their different contexts). For someone already worried about meeting standards the idea of being compared to some of these people is downright terrifying.

So why do it?

Because it scares me. Because I know it's going to be challenging. Because I know that putting my practice under scrutiny I will become a better teacher (and leader). Afterall,

"If you risk nothing you gain nothing"
~ Bear Grylls ~

For me that's the key to learning - taking risks.

I take a risk everytime my Sabum (instructor) partners me with a different black belt for a spar - and every time I learn something. It might be how that particular person puts techniques together, or how to avoid, or their weakness...more often its about my weaknesses and the areas I need to "fix". I also try to take risks in my classroom. That can be hard, the business of education tends towards being low risk, and often doing something different can be considered too risky, "What if it fails?"

What we really need to be asking is - "What if it works?" That shift right there will give us all the power we need to really transform education.


patchworker1302 said...

Hi Nic,
Great entry! I think you have summed up the challenge of risk taking really well. Your point about not being able to say 'no' as both a weakness and strength is very true - how many fantastic chances could we miss if we knock them back because of a little fear (although the pressure you place on yourself can be pretty tough at times)!! Your life-long learning journey is, I am sure, an inspiration to not only your colleagues but students. The inner competitor in me has come out after reading this and it is challenging me to do more too!

jnxyz said...

Dare to fail, dare to fail! Cliched but yah, you know what I mean.

mentormadness said...

Hi Nic!

I'm reading your blog and it's like you are reading my thoughts about the adv ped lic! It's scary yet exciting! I love challenge!

My mantra is that Failure is just learning really poorly marketed. It's success in crappy wrapping paper!

I'm in awe of you and others in this journey too - it seems mutual respect is very much alive in this community! :)


shanetechteach said...

Isn't it amazing how we as educators know implicitly that achievement is measured against published standards (much as criteria for students) yet we inevitably pitch ourselves in competition and judge ourselves in comparison with others. We create our own bell curve and subjectively, although with bias, rate ourselves on it. Even when our portfolio requires us to build evidence against indicators. Human nature I guess, but unfortunate I feel. For some it motivates (as it does for you) but for so many it inhibits. I encourage all reading this to take one further risk and simply trust yourself. Trust that if you get into a bind you have the resources and capability to pull yourself out. Trust that every other educator is not judging you, but learning with you.

Nic Mobbs said...

Thanks for your replies :) It means a lot to me to have four people I admire for their work to comment. I was going to reply to you all here, but I think I sense another entry forming...