“Where do we want to be?” “Where do we want to go?” “How do we get there?”
If we simply answered those questions with “Where I am.” and “Wherever I’m told.” and “The easiest way.” then perhaps this blog isn’t for you…or maybe it’s something you need to read!
Risks are defined as situations involving exposure to danger. Taking risks models behavior that students need to see. Risk taking challenges not only ourselves but our students as well. Now, would we ever place our students in position of danger? Absolutely not! Would we ever place our students to look at an unknown situation and let them discover the results on their own? I sure hope so! The best way for students to begin taking risks is to take them on your own!
Walk in front of your classroom and say to them “Hey! I’m ready to try something new! How is this going to turn out? I’m not sure but let’s do this together and see what happens?”
“What happens if this doesn’t work right?” “What will the other teachers think of me if this messes up?” “What will students think if this is a total failure?” I’m sure these thoughts have crossed your mind and that these are the reasons why you may have limited the risks that you have taken. Well…let me tell you this…these questions don’t mean anything and that you should be asking yourself the following questions:
- What will my students learn from this?
- How will this lesson change how my students see this topic?
- How will we grow as a class from this risk taking?
- Which students will develop a greater appreciation of themselves by this activity?
- How can I model growth by failing?
- Which students that may not normally stand out in class excel in this activity?
- How can I effectively show the importance of risk taking to my colleagues?
- Who can I invite in to observe this lesson that may need encouragement to do the same?
- How will this benefit our school?
- How will this benefit me?
Let’s change those negative questions into learning questions! Let’s take those risks to grow and develop into educators that want students to rise above where they are and see where they can be.
Even before we get to a risk taking activity, we need to ensure that students feel like they belong in the environment where risks can be taken. Build a relationship of trust and confidence. Work with students to help them see both their strengths and weaknesses. Work with students so that they can build on their strengths and challenge themselves to improve on their weaknesses. Most importantly, let students know that you want to see them succeed at any cost and that you care about them. If this trust and confidence is in place, students will take risks because they know that it’s okay to fail.
So take the opportunity to build relationships where students see that they are cared about and that they are trusted. Take your own risks in class. Show how to improve upon the strengths and weaknesses that you have and that you will grow. Change those negative questions into positive questions! Learn together.