Leaving Comfort Zones Behind

Let's face it- we can easily fall into a routine, or a pattern and stay there for a long time. We get comfortable with what we do and where we are. For those of us who are the only ones in our roles at our school, it's particularly easy to get stuck in that space of comfort.

A few weeks ago, I left my comfort zone and wrote a proposal to speak at our district-wide conference. Just putting myself out there was a step outside of the zone. And then, it happened: the proposal was accepted.

Not having a clue what I was in for- how many people to expect, and what it would be like- I prepped. I prepared. I revisited information and statistics from the year I challenged my fourth graders to read 40 books as I had read about in Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer. I added and deleted. I rewrote and rewrote- and the day came.

So how did it go? I didn't pass out. I looked out at the smiling faces in my session ~ and talked. I talked about what my experience was: how it changed me, the kids, and the teachers at my school. Somewhere during the presentation I realized that it wasn't a presentation- but a conversation: and the biggest obstacle had been my own mind.

How did I get there? Inspiration from a mentor I've never met through the form of a book that changed me. A few people talking with me, and asking me questions. A few people encouraging me and believing in me~ and me willing to take a risk.

What I learned from the experience:

  • Most of the time,  people don't often trust what they know and have learned. We have to give our students the opportunity to present what they know. It's amazing how much I learned in the preparation time, and how much I'm continuing to learn. 
  • We learn from our peers. Having conversations helps us to hone what we know. Having conversations helps us to look at what we've done or who we are in a different light.
  • Reflection and self-evaluation are paramount to growth. When we take the time to look back on things we've done and evaluate them- we improve. How much more important is it for us to teach our students how to do that? 
My takeaway: while my job is as a  teacher and a leader- I am still a student. Just like a student, I need people to help me reflect on my work. Just like a student, I need encouragement to grow. And just like a student- I can leave my comfort zone and try something new to grow. 

The charge: find some people to speak into your life. Speak into your student's lives- and give them that chance to grow too.  


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