Monday, March 14, 2016

Comfort Zones

When you've been teaching your class for a few years and you have it mostly dialed in, you get into the comfort zone.  This is good, right?  You know what is coming up next, you know what works well and what doesn't work, you've figured out all those analogies to help the kids understand abstract concepts.  You know what the homework will be and how far ahead you have to start a project to get it done in time for the semester's end.  You have all the masters ready for copying at a moment's notice.  Study guides are made and ready to hand out a week before the assessment.  You're set.  You've got it all under control.  

Then you come across something online or in conversation with colleagues that could work for your class.  It could update that tried and true project, or change up that homework assignment or assessment you always use.  The kids would love it.  For you, it means more work.  It means new documents to create or new applications to learn.  Maybe it means redoing the course calendar and switching around a bunch of assignments.  Maybe it even means you have to change most of your assignments.  It looks cool, and sounds fun, and your student's learning process could benefit from it, but...but it takes you out of your comfort zone.  When you think of all the time it might take to change things up, it seems overwhelming. Your brain is bombarded with questions like, "Do I have time?  Can I actually pull this off?  Will I be able to learn the new application?  What if doesn't work the way I want it to?"  You find yourself wondering if the benefits outweigh the work to get it done.  

Next time you are faced with this decision, think about this:

Are you letting your comfort zone impede your student's potential to learn and grow?  Change is hard. The school year flies by and we are always busy, busy, busy.  There's no perfect time to change out a project, change out the way you do homework, change out your assessments.  There is no perfect time, so why not now?  It may be lot of work, but we came into this profession to help students learn.  So next time you are faced with tough decision - choose what is best for the students. Try something new. Change it up a little.  Step out of your comfort zone. 

Helping teachers incorporate technology, one tech tip at a time.