Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Celebrate the Risk

"It might be a total disaster, but I'm going to give it a shot."

The above quote was taken directly from a teacher's email recently, requesting for me to come observe an activity they had created specifically in response to students having a difficult time "connecting" with the current content.

"I've created an assignment that feels like a fairly big risk, and I'd like to invite you to observe the chaos."

This was considered a victory before the students even entered the classroom on that Monday.

For the past few years, we have deliberately and intentionally communicated for our teachers to be encouraged in risk-taking within their respective instructional design.  We have endorsed our teachers to have a "Green Light" for risks within their classrooms.

Giving teachers the freedom to implement their instructional ideas is not only communicated at the beginning of the year.  There is a balance of accountability through open dialogue throughout the year.

During our Mid-Year Conferences, we ask every teacher to share:

What risks have you taken this year thus far?

It's crucial to recognize risks are distinctly different from one teacher to the next.  Therefore, as school leaders, we must celebrate the risk, not the result.

Encouraging teachers to take risks comes with the acknowledgement of potential failure.  I frequently share, "If the lesson absolutely bombs, guess what?  The students are still showing up tomorrow."

I'm optimistic our culture encompasses encouragement of risk-taking without fear of failure.

For many, simply taking a different approach than they have always done is the risk.  The risk lies in moving away in "how we've always done it", especially when there is a track-record of the specific strategy, activity, or plan as a success.  Change is uncomfortable for all of us.

Once again, celebrate the risk.

Reflect on what was learned from the risk, rather than focusing simply the summative outcomes.

After the each teacher provides their open-ended response to the aforementioned opportunity to share their risk, we immediately follow-up with:

What are you proud of from this year?

And sometimes, our teacher's proudest moments come from the risks they have taken.

Thank you for viewing,


The opinions shared in this blog belong to Craig Smith and do not represent the school or district in which he works.

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