Becoming Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable…

Becoming Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable…

Taking risks means being uncomfortable and possibly failing. I’m not really into failing so therefore, I’m not really into taking unnecessary risks.  When my dearest friend invited me to join her in keeping up with this blog, I had a mini heart attack before saying yes. Writing a blog may not seem like a risk, but for me it means I’m putting myself out there. I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone for the internet world to critique every sentence I write.  The problem with taking minimal risks due to fear of failure is that I become comfortable. Being comfortable is great if we are talking about sweatpants and Netflix, but being comfortable in the classroom is not always the best way to reach our students.  Fear of failure results in missing opportunities to improve, to collaborate, to learn, the list goes on and on.  It’s in these risks that lessons are learned and connections are made and most importantly, students become thinkers and leaders. This year has been all about being uncomfortable.

I comfortably taught the same preps for years, using and modifying lessons to try to connect to whatever set of students I had.  Of course I tried new things each year, and I collaborated with other teachers, but I often times took the easy route.  I stuck with what I knew worked and unfortunately at times my lessons were not reaching all of my students. This year however, was a huge change. I leaped out of my comfort zone and there has not been one day in my classroom where I have been comfortable. I was given the opportunity to take over the English II Honors classes, which I was extremely excited about.  To say I was comfortable teaching these high level students,  would be far from the truth.  The truth is that I was terrified. 

I was familiar with this curriculum from having taught non honors English II in the past, but I wanted to make it relevant to today.  I wanted my students to fully understand how these pieces of classic literature connected remain relevant. Without this connection, what’s the point in reading Of Mice and Men  or Fahrenheit 451, or any of the other titles filling our book shelves in the storage room? How do these older texts remain relevant in today’s culture? What can my students learn about themselves and society through reading these classic texts?  With several ideas in my head and Google at my fingertips, I have been able to step far outside of my comfort zone and tackle current issues with my students through the lens of classic literature.  My students and I have navigated unfamiliar waters and we stayed afloat.  While some days may be rocky and some lessons may change mid unit, we have made it and we have learned.

I’m still in the process of designing units for this class,  and it’s with the help of these 15 and 16 year old students that I am now comfortably teaching outside of my comfort zone. Have I had days that were a failure, yes and so have my students, but overall we have not failed. We have persevered

Teaching is unlike most professions, in that we as teachers have to constantly and consistently take risks. If we do not take risks, then we risk our students losing interest and disengaging.  We must strive to be creative and innovative. We must step outside of our comfort zones to teach relevant and engaging lessons. We must get uncomfortable and talk about issues that matter most. That is where we grow and our students grow.  I’m going to continue to challenge myself to really engage with my students, to talk about the hard topics, and to remain relevant in today’s quickly changing world.  My challenge to you is this-get uncomfortable.      

–Sarah Tate

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