Sunday, November 29, 2015

What's the worst that can happen?

Earlier this year, our district had a professional development day with the morning dedicated to a national speaker and the afternoon to be spent at the building level. The principals were to be given materials to facilitate the afternoon session. Unfortunately, the materials arrived late in the week and I was out of town with family all weekend. When I returned, I had one day to review all the material and prepare my presentation. While I appreciated the amount of work that the district leaders had put into the materials, I was frustrated because I did not feel prepared to present.  After being short-tempered and grouchy all evening, my wife asked me what was the matter. When I explained the situation she asked me, "What's the worst that can happen?"  Without thinking I immediately replied, "I could look like an idiot in front of my whole staff".

Wow, I hadn't even realized it, but I was really afraid of "flopping" in front of my group. A group that I know well and trust. I started thinking, how can I ask my teachers to be risk-takers, when I'm not comfortable taking risks myself? Yes, I'm like trying new things and yes, I'm comfortable talking in front of a group, but is that risk-taking? Risk-taking is trying something and not knowing how it's going to turn out.  I'm more comfortably when I'm well rehearsed AND confident of the outcome.  That's not risk-taking.  It was at that point that I really started to evaluate my own habits at school and reflect on what it means to take a risk. The thing that stood out to me that needed to be let go of was my fear.  Fear of failing, fear of "flopping", fear of giving up control. If I could do that, I would truly be a risk-taker.

As educators, we all probably have some fear of giving up control and failing in the classroom. That's normal, because what we do is SO important. Sometimes we live with the devil we know rather than trying something new, because we don't want to fail our students. But recognizing that our job is so important, how can we not be willing to take risks and move from the ordinary to the extraordinary? Speaking as one who recently realized I wasn't the risk-taker I thought I was I challenge you as I challenge myself...go for it! Try something new, perform without a net, and let go of the fear. I promise if you fall, your students will help you get back up. If you fail, you will learn something new. If you succeed, then the sky's the limit for you and more importantly for your students!

photo credit:


"The biggest risk is not taking any risk." - Mark Zuckerberg

"You only do good work when you're taking risks and pushing yourself." - Sally Hawkins

"If you don't go out on the branch, you're never going to get the best fruit." - Sarah Parish

Risk Taking TED Talk (11 minutes) 

Monday, November 30: Student of the Month Assembly - Safety 3:00 pm
                                      REED Limberg/Krause 3:10 pm
Thursday, December 3: PBS Staff Meeting 8:00 am in LMC

Thursday, December 10: Staff Meeting 8:00 am

Wednesday, December 16: Santa Shop in Room 18
Thursday, December 17: Santa Shop in Room 18
                                       1st Grade Gingerbread House Activity in Gym (Lunch in Classrooms)
Friday, December 18: Staff Breakfast hosted by Joe & Diane 8:00 am


  1. "Sometimes we live with the devil we know..." Gosh, what a powerful reminder that just because we know the action/reaction/outcome doesn't mean it's the best option for us. Your reflection is so important for your role as leader, and kudos to you for not wanting to ask something of your teachers that you wouldn't ask of yourself.

    So, tell us... how did it turn out? :-)

  2. It went well...thanks to my very gracious staff:)