Be bold but understand the parameters

The world is changing quickly, and education is no exception. Technology and a glut of data either fill us with hope of possibilities or paralyze us with the burden of infinite choices. Those who choose to be positive and embrace the chaos have supporters, but unfortunately there are naysayers–the people who want to bring you down. How you handle those who aren’t as openminded and energized is important–for your own professional happiness and for promoting positive change.

Even though your new or unconventional views on student learning may be correct, you have to understand that others will be blind to the reasons for your position. Don’t flaunt your outside-the-box thinking because it only leads to frustration. People may incorrectly believe you only want attention, or maybe they’ll think you’re bashing their style of teaching. Change is difficult because it can be perceived as a threat to how we normally operate. Most of the time adults like to set up systems and enable cruise control. Tapping the breaks, changing routes, or speeding up become a nuisance–if not fodder for anger.

Embrace this reality, just like you embrace the uncertainty in which we teach.

It’s best to share new ideas with colleagues who share a similar philosophy. These individuals will appreciate your uniqueness and benefit from your knowledge. Politely ignoring the naysayers is the best course of action. As you share with other passionate educators and build a personal learning network within your district, teachers hesitant to adopt new ideas will slowly let their guards down and join in the conversation.

Going against established ideas is always difficult, so it’s important to stay within the “norms” that have evolved throughout the decades within the field of education. Openly scoffing at ineffective practices isn’t wise. It’s much better to stay positive, work within the established parameters, and slowly influence educators by beginning with those who are likeminded or interested.

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