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Administration, Education, Leadership, Professional Development, Social Media, Teaching, Technology

Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Walking on hot coals

cc flickr photo by all the good names have gone

Complacency is perhaps the most insidious form of educational malpractice.  While certainly more detrimental, instances of blatant disregard for students are relatively rare in comparison to teachers and administrators who are just “going through the motions.”  Most educators don’t set out to bore their students to death, cause embarrassment or humiliation, or meet out unjust punishment.  Instead, we get comfortable, busy or perhaps a bit lazy.  We become what we frequently accuse our students of being–unmotivated, disinterested and, at its worst, apathetic.

This is why I am now comfortable being uncomfortable.  Even though I struggle to keep up with my Twitter feed and I am perpetually behind in reviewing blog posts in Google Reader, I am approaching my profession with a renewed energy and intentionality.  My Personal Learning Network challenges my thinking, provides valuable feedback and generates new ideas.  It has been a prescription for complacency.  While I certainly do not want to diminish the value of collaboration with colleagues in your school and district, if you do not expand your PLN to include a world-wide audience, you are missing out.

Get connected.  Develop a Personal Learning Network.  Be challenged.  Be uncomfortable.  Say no to complacency.


About azjd

Junior high principal by day, aspiring difference maker, and Jedi in my own mind. Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.


10 thoughts on “Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

  1. Hi Jeff – I’m reading The Learning Paradox right now and the first thing he writes about is becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable – that’s how we learn. I’ve also developed a new saying: “Comfort the distressed. Distress the comfortable.”
    Great post!

    Posted by Erin Paynter | July 17, 2011, 8:41 pm
  2. Exactly. I think a good way to fight that, particularly in elementary grades, is to change grade levels. This year I’ll be finishing my fourth year in 5th grade. I think after one more year, I’ll be ready to try something new. That doesn’t mean I’ve mastered 5th grade, it just means I don’t want to get comfortable. A lot of teachers have next year planned, copies made, and seats assigned before May. How do they know what the kids will be like? How do they know what levels of learning they’ll each come in with? It has always boggled my mind. Education should not be a place of ruts and rote learning. Each day we ask our students to stretch themselves, try new things, take risks, and yet a lot of the teachers asking them to do this fight the very same suggestions from their peers.

    Thanks for the reminder. Cheers to being uncomfortable.

    Posted by Jeremy M. | July 17, 2011, 8:58 pm
    • “Each day we ask our students to stretch themselves, try new things, take risks, and yet a lot of the teachers asking them to do this fight the very same suggestions from their peers.”

      This is a great point Jeremy. I think we definitely have to model what we are teaching our students. Education is a dynamic profession and we risk complacency when we are unwilling to take appropriate risks and accept new challenges.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and continue the discussion.

      Posted by azjd | July 18, 2011, 9:20 pm
  3. I agree with Jeremy, but I think it goes beyond getting out of your comfort zone on campus. Sometimes it seems like every teacher in the world must be on Twitter (when I’m trying to keep up with my TweetDeck). The truth is that many of us on Twitter (or using some kind of reader, etc.) are the only ones at our schools that are actively engaged in a PLN. Until educators take their learning beyond the school day, schools will be dominated by the comfortable.

    Posted by Stephen Veliz | July 17, 2011, 9:43 pm
  4. I have to agree with Stephen. I teach in a school with high poverty, high mobility, and a high level of this attitude: “Well, it has worked for the past 10, 20, 30 years…”. Yet those same teachers who continually complain that their students don’t care or don’t want to learn exhibit those same attitudes when it comes to professional development. They say our students need models and I say that if we want our students to embrace learning, we need to model that very passion ourselves. Thanks for sharing this.

    Posted by kmhowellmartin | July 18, 2011, 3:32 am
    • I also work in a very similar school. 94% free and reduced lunch. The “apathy” card gets played all the time. The truth is, those kids do want to learn, they just have never been taught how. Things get handed to them or taken away. They are passed from class to class with little attention to their real needs. Often teacher think the “tough love” attitude or the “school of hard knocks” is what works. These kids need kindess and love. They often don’t always see it like many of us grew up. Some teachers are uncomfortable with changing their ways because, like you said, it’s worked in the past. There is nothing wrong with taking what has worked while melding it with the new, the engaging, the meaningful, the relevant…etc. Ruts are bad news. Time to start down a new trail.

      Posted by Jeremy M. | July 18, 2011, 8:35 pm
  5. I love your post! I have been teaching for 7 years and been “uncomfortable” the entire time! 🙂 I am constantly trying to improve my teaching practice-and I love it!

    Posted by shannonjoe | July 18, 2011, 12:11 pm
  6. I agree. I have been renewed through the social media and my own learning has become exciting and relevant. It is a very messy process and an exciting time to be in education.

    Posted by Valerie | September 9, 2011, 8:30 pm
  7. Hi Jeff, I appreciate your post. (Actually, I appreciate all your posts!) The influence of peers and colleagues plays a vital role in our growth as learners and in our attitudes towards being comfortable or uncomfortable. Increasing our exposure to include the thoughts and ideas of networked professionals seems to enhance face to face collaboration in our school. “Check out this post” has started many conversations that either inspire us to get out of our comfort
    zones or provide evidence that we are falling behind. Keep pushing the envelope!

    Posted by Terry Ainge | September 10, 2011, 10:37 am

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Jeff Delp

Junior high principal by day, sports enthusiast, technology fanatic and jedi in my own mind. Striving to be a difference maker!
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