Fear and Loathing in the Classroom

“The master has failed many more times than the beginner has even attempted.” A great quote I read today on Twitter by Stephen McCraine and it made me think of how important it is for new teachers to take risks and try new things. It seems counterintuitive given the recent wave of evaluation tools that have been put in place, but in truth, playing safe never made anyone great.
If you want to be an ok teacher, play it safe, don’t take chances, try to a avoid mistakes. Chances are, if you do that, you will help a few kids, you will keep your job, and you won’t ruffle any feathers. People may even think you are a pretty good teacher.
The truth is, there are plenty of decent teachers out there who play its safe, avoid risks and don’t make many big mistakes. The difference is simple, the best teachers, the ones that have a lasting impact, not just on some students, but on a school and a community, are the ones that take chances, make mistakes, reflect, and then try again.
Never forget that you will almost certainly need to fail a few times before you succeed. I will spare you the various stories about Babe Ruth or Michael Jordan, just know that failure is not an end but a beginning. What will keep us from being great is fear. Fear of mistakes, fear of failing, fear of people thinking we are not good enough. Block that fear out, over come the worries and use failure as your starting point. Every time you make a mistake you are one step closer to greatness. Cherish every opportunity you have to take a chance and seize your opportunity to screw up, the best student learning often occurs when you are taking a big risk, and definitely the best teacher learning!

Good luck, take chances, make mistakes! Learning is messy, even for adults…


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