Guest Post by Melanie Gonzales
“Progress always involves risk; you can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first,” said Frederick Wilcox. This quote spoke to me this week as I reflected on my role as Liaison, our Professional Development conversations, and the new season for the Rangers.
Taking the job as liaison was a risk. The role of the liaison is to support the work of the principal in improving instruction in every classroom, through coaching, consulting, collaborating, and co-teaching with teachers as well as to align professional learning with district and school goals. In order to take on this role, I had to leave my comfortable team, my comfort zone in teaching a grade level that I had been teaching for a long period of time, and a school that I have been at for more than a decade. Has it been challenging? Yes! Has it been rewarding? Yes! I was comforted at our last get together that we went over the research on change. William Bridges’ “transitions of change” and Michael Fullan’s “implementation dip” assured me that it is normal to grieve an ending and maybe feel some discomfort as I move toward the new beginning. It is normal to feel some disillusionment before finding rejuvenation.
I am also asking teachers to take risks. This might involve letting go of a much-loved unit because it no longer matches the learners of today. This might be trying new technology. This might mean teaching in a new way.
If I want my teachers to take risks, I must model risk taking myself. Recently, I used Nearpod in addition to a PowerPoint presentation that I had planned for my staff. Of course I was a little nervous because I had never used it before. I learned about Nearpod at the last “Appy Hour” hosted by GCISD digital coach, Sarra Smith. What I loved was how the app allows participants or students to have their very own interactive presentation on their own iPad screen. It was very effective. For my presentation, We used the app to view images, and to gain clarity about the design of our work. We also used it to interact by taking a quiz to formatively assess how we plan and to poll the staff about the most important elements of PBL they wanted to discuss in our faculty discussion session at the end of the morning. Yes, there were a few tense moments when loading took longer than anticipated and the transition between two of the slides did not work at first, but I feel that when the staff saw me taking risks and having my own uncomfortable moments, I became more “real” in their eyes. I am not the “one who knows all”, or the expert, or the evaluator, but someone is who learning and taking risks right along side each of them. I might just steal third base next.
I don’t know where the Rangers are heading this season, but it looks hopeful. I am also optimistic about the new risks my teachers will take as I continue to create an environment where it is OK to steal second base.
What makes risk taking so difficult? How can we support each other to take more risks?