Hop Aboard! #LAUNCHbook

Over the past couple of years, I’ve taken several risks in the way that I teach. Some were bigger than others, some flopped, some were okay, and some were absolutely amazing. Some have forever changed the way I do things meaning I will now never go back to the old way I was operating. Having said that though, even some of my bigger risk taking successes have brought on new challenges (like dealing with the chaos is class – my type A personality is working on this).

While planning new and big projects (and different ways of executing certain things), there is always worry in the back of my mind. This weekend, while I finally finished reading Launch by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani, I was so happy to read this exert, because it’s exactly how I’ve felt in the past and how I continue to feel when I take risks with my students:

“I (John) remember feeling terrified the first time that my class launched a design project. The process seemed slower than a typical unit plan. Instead of a one-week project or a single assignment, students worked for weeks on their products. Rather than delivering the typical I do, we do, you do lesson, we mixed things up with students spending more time working while I met with small groups and individuals.

It was more active, more chaotic, and at times more confusing than an orderly classroom. After all, we were exploring. We were heading to the moon. And doing so meant we had to take risks.

I was okay with these risks, but I had several days when I worried about what certain stakeholders would think. Would they worry that our class would fall behind on standardized test scores? Would they see the chaos and think that I had failed in classroom management? What about parents? Would they say, “Back when I was a kid, we didn’t waste time with stuff like this”? Would they find this project bizarre? Would they understand that we were doing less work but deeper thinking?”

Following this quote, I was happy to continue reading many strategies that can easily be put into place in order to avoid backlash when trying something new. I was also pleased to realize that I’ve done many of the suggestions in the book, which is probably why I’ve never really had anyone question what I’m doing. I think the big thing here is to always be transparent. Communication is key, and if people know that you’re trying something new and that you aren’t sure what they outcome will look like, chance are good that they’ll support you and be more empathetic if things don’t go as planned (note – I find this to be just as true with my students as with admin, parents or colleagues).

So, just remember, yes taking risks is scary. Yes, you will worry about what people will say or think. But in the end, the risks are worth taking… so hop aboard and just do it! 🙂

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