This week my family and I visited our old church with my in-laws. We had a good meal, good fellowship, and a good devotional that was given this night by Larry Brown, a retired Colonel in the U.S. Air Force and a former Cross Country runner for Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. This post is an adaptation of his devotional.
Many of the problems today have slowly crept into our society and, over time, have been accepted as just the way it is. They have been accepted to the extent that most people do not even see any problems at all. Complacency has taken over. We’ve done the same things over and over and don’t think twice about it. Sometimes we don’t even know why … it’s just the way it’s always been done. Have you ever heard that before?
Once we realize that there is a problem and that the way it’s always been done is not the way it needs to be done anymore, we have to do something to change. We can’t be complacent anymore. We need to have a strategy as we run the race …the race to overcome complacency. There are certain components for a winning strategy as we run this race.
Strategy #1 – Collaborate.
Ask for help. There are people at your school who are willing to help you. Collaboration will help everyone involved. Seek guidance in department meetings, team meetings, PLC’s and PLN’s, and use Twitter. It is OK to depend on others for guidance and advice. It is OK to learn something new. It is OK to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Take a risk … it’s OK! You will be surprised that when you collaborate with others and learn something new and actually do something with what you have learned, not only will you benefit as a professional, your students will also benefit (which is what you want anyway).
Strategy # 2 – Get training.
You have to get training / professional development. You have to put this training into practice. Once again, I mention Twitter. Form your own PLN with other professionals who are willing to share their ideas and practices and guidance. I have been on Twitter for less than one month and I can honestly say that I have learned more in the past month than I have in the past few years combined. And what is so good about this is that I have total control of what and how much I learn. You can get the training you want whenever you want. That’s awesome! You can’t say that you just don’t have time. You can do it on your own time, anytime of the day or night. All you have to do is take the time.
Strategy #3 – Have the right equipment.
As you collaborate and as you get training, there is no doubt that you will get exposed to various types of equipment such as iPads, iPods, Kindles, various software, new websites, blogs, etc. All of these can be extremely helpful in your race to overcome complacency. But, all of this equipment is useless without training, collaboration, and the willingness to step out of your comfort zone and do something new. And, if you are lucky enough to have access to any of the various types of equipment, you must use it in ways that will help to engage the students. If you have any of these things but don’t ever use them, then I would guess that you are one of the ones saying something like, “We’ve never done it that way.”
Strategy #4 – Be an encourager.
How does it make you feel when you get some words of encouragement? How does it make you feel to encourage others? Doesn’t it lift your spirits? I am sure that every one of us has walked into the teacher’s lounge or workroom and heard someone just being extremely negative about something — a student, a parent, another teacher, etc. How does that make you feel? Do you join right in? Do you leave? Be wary of those who discourage … those that say something like “We’ve tried that before.” “That won’t work.” “That’s just another program.” “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”
I would suggest to you that words of encouragement work a lot better than words of discouragement.
Strategy #5 – Know where you are going.
You should know what you are trying to accomplish. Better test scores, yes. Student engagement, yes. Increased technology integration, yes. Higher-level thinking, yes. How do you accomplish this? See Strategies # 1, 2, 3, & 4. In today’s world where we have instant gratification, it is important to understand that it may take time to get where you want to be. It takes patience!
Often time we find ourselves in a rut. We have become complacent. But once you decide to make an adjustment in your professional attitude and run the race to overcome complacency, you will be a better person. You will be able to make a difference in the lives of your students. And you will feel better about yourself too. Remember these strategies as you run your race.