Before I answer the question, I think it bears saying that anyone who teaches is already brave. Standing in front of and alongside of teenagers or children everyday is a vulnerable and courageous act. Bravo to all the teachers out there who do it every weekday morning.
1. Finish this post already
This post has been a draft for way too long. It’s given me a good deal of pause because it was difficult to distinguish between factors that are inhibiting the things I came up with. Several times I thought of habits or practices I might change but realized it wasn’t fear or lack of courage that was holding me back. It was lack of motivation. I also realized I am significantly more courageous as a teacher than I am in other areas of my life 🙂
2. Mix up the traditional classroom arrangement more often
Last year I spent more time outside the classroom and varied the arrangement of the room more often. My merry band of 5th graders and I went outside to make a human map of the United States and reenact a colonial taxation protest. We regrouped desks to create 3 early colonial settlements and the three branches of government. Leaving our typical physical space brought some risk, but those were the activities which students recalled most fondly at the end of the semester.
3. Learn to use a one-handed keyboard.
I bought this keyboard last year and played with it a bit, but it has been sitting in its box for most of the year. To get a sense of what typing on a standard keyboard is like for me, try typing with your right hand and your left elbow. (I don’t actually type with my elbow but that position approximates the uncomfortable placement of my shoulders when I type.) I type around 40wpm and learning a new keyboard would take time. I’d like to think that’s the only reason I haven’t used it, but if I’m honest, I hate reminders that I only have one hand. Anything that feels like an accommodation makes me uncomfortable. If I were braver, I would care more about alleviating the discomfort in my shoulders than my pride.
4. Stop being afraid of grammar
I have struggled with grammar since middle school. I didn’t receive much direct grammar instruction, so I seem to freeze up when it comes to teaching it. I can plan and execute a decent grammar lesson but if students have questions outside the scope of the lesson I clam up.
5. Stop using work as an excuse
I’m less likely than I once was to turn down invitations to do social sorts of things because of school work, but I still do it more often than I’d like. I fight the inclination to work long past the point of diminshing returns. I’m still figuring out how to balance “having a life” and teaching. It’s a dance that more seasoned teachers assure me never goes away.
How about you? What would you do if you were braver?