Do You Want to be Safe or Great?

We have a choice as educators, one we need to make right now. What we choose will impact not only our students, but also our schools and maybe education itself.
When something new and unfamiliar comes along, a turtle will pull back and hide in its shell. The world of education has seen the equivalent of a stampede during an earthquake while on a unicycle, so it is understandable why so many educators seem ready to retract into their shells and hope to wait this one out…

We cannot be turtles. If we stay in and hide from the changes around us, if we play it safe, we may survive, but what will the world look like when we come out of our shell? I had to survive as an educator once, during my first year. It was not so much hiding in shell as it was hanging on to the tail of an alligator hoping not to let go! While I had some impact as an educator that year, I really only impacted a handful of kids. Since then, survival is onto good enough for me. I want to be great, I want to make a greater impact on my class, my school, and my profession. Being safe will never get me there.

Sometimes this is a. Concept that I admittedly forget myself, playing it safe never produces the student learning, or the personal learning that I desire for my personal and professional life. Sure I could just follow my series, teach “the Common Core”, and I would probably have some success, but I will never be great this way.

If we want to inspire and illicit greatness from our students, we ourselves must first demand greatness from within. How? We must develop a critical nature where we are the facilitator of curriculum. We need to weave standards (whatever yours may be) into sound instructional practice. We need to look at a text-book as a resource for teaching or practice rather than the solution. We need to be the creators of education, and inspire that creativity and passion in our students whether it is for learning in general or for some more specific goal.

Yes, the work is harder, but greatness and the greatness of your impact will not come from taking the easy road, and it certainly will not come from hiding in our shells waiting for the shake up to end.


One thought on “Do You Want to be Safe or Great?

  1. Brian, I know on those days I take the “easy road,” and am not able to give my best, I feel terrible when I go home. I read Teach Like a Pirate this past summer, and my one huge take-away was to try just as hard in my last class as I do in my first. It was such a wake-up call to me. I’ve carried that on to my team time at the end of the day, now. Instead of being “done with the day,” I try to challenge my teammates (in a nice way) about what we’re doing with and for the students. Although I’m worn out from the day, and I get frustrated when my ideas get shot down, I still try. I don’t want to play it safe, because I want change…. Thanks for reminding us once again in this post.

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