Be Brave Enough to Suck at Something New!
This week's blog is all about learning something new. This is something I started doing when I first started teaching. I knew my first year of teaching that I was not going to keep doing the same lessons every year. One of my semesters in student teaching, I had a master teacher who knew exactly what they were teaching on each day from year to year. They had a filing cabinet full of lesson folders sorted by week and day. I still remember listening to a family member who had been teaching for over 30 years tell me she had all 180 days planned out every year and they had never changed. I did not want to be that teacher.
Over the years., I have taken on a personal project with my students to learn something new. One year is was to learn how to use a microcontroller and LED lights to light up my LEGO sets. Another year is was learning how to edit videos. This has been going on for over 15 years. It's fun to challenge myself to learn something new. I share with my students the experiences I have had because I said "Yes" to something even though I didn't really know how to do it. If you remember from my last blog, it is important to take a leap of faith even though you may not know how or where you will land.
A recent example shows how exciting it can be to be brave enough to suck at something new. Several years ago, I don't know exactly, Dry Creek was going to be starting RTI Interventions. We watched the videos about RTI and even had Mattos come and speak to the teachers about how important it was. The whole time I was learning about RTI and the tiered support, I was thinking how was this going to work in middle school. How could we keep track of the students and let them know where they needed to go each week. I figured a spreadsheet would be good, and I have used it in the past to track students from one class to another. I told my admin that I would figure out a way to track students during their RTI time and tell them each week where they needed to go. The reality was, I had no idea how to do this. Figuring out a spreadsheet that teachers could use to place students in an intervention time and email the students each week became my personal project that summer.
People ask me all the time, "How do you know how to do all this stuff?". The quickest answer is that I am self-taught. I scour YouTube and the Internet to find resources that I can use. For the RTI spreadsheet it started with a free online class on formulas to build dashboards. Even though it was based on a business, I knew I could use some of this on the RTI spreadsheet. As I learned these new formulas, I tested them on a practice sheet. The fist 40 versions were horrible disasters. The first time I tried emailing a mock class, I ended up sending myself 85 emails. Formulas broke or would give the wrong information. It was not looking good. But then I remembered that I am still learning. I went back to the Internet, watched a few more videos, and things started coming together. I am constantly learning new ways to improve my work, and I actually look forward to the failures that inevitably come. It means I'm learning.
So just remember that it is OK to suck at something new. Your students will learn more when you show them it's ok to make errors when you are starting out. Try little changes and see what happens.
Enjoy November and the upcoming Fall Break! It is a time for thanks. I am thankful for all the teachers in Dry Creek who are brave enough to suck at something new!