We all need courage . . . because it can be scary out there. Just taking the first step can be scary. And even once you get going down the right path, you’ll certainly experience moments when you just aren’t sure of yourself. You don’t know what to do next. You question whether you’re headed in the right direction. You want your kids to be happily engaged in authentic reading, writing, and conversation (of course you do) but shifting to a more child-centered literacy environment can be challenging.
So, what’s the answer, when you aren’t sure what to do next, or don’t have the depth of knowledge that you need? Simply substitute COURAGE. Courage will allow you to keep moving forward while you learn more and sort things out.
So, here are the Courage Rules. Follow these seven simple rules and you’ll experience success and joy in all you do.
- Start small. But start. You can’t do it all at once, but you can do something more all the time. Don’t wait for conditions to be perfect before you start. Today is all we have. The only time to start is today. The work is a journey and there is no finish line. Give it a whirl.
- Keep a sense of humor. Laugh more. Smile more. Stop taking yourself so seriously. So what if you try this and on the first day it completely flops? Have a good chuckle about it with your peer next door. Lighten up. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Enjoy the journey. This can be fun.
- Be good to yourself. Slow down. Take care of yourself. Eat well. Get plenty of sleep. Take care of your body. Give yourself room to make mistakes. Think kind and positive thoughts. Be your own best friend.
- Reflect, learn, and adjust. Reflection, not perfection, is the goal. The very best teachers are not teachers who always know exactly what to do; they are the teachers who know how to reflect on what happens in their classrooms, learn from it and adjust accordingly. When you move forward with something new, you get all sorts of chances to practice your reflections skills.
- Take charge of your own learning. Make your teaching practice uniquely your own. You’re the only one who knows yourself and your classroom well enough to decide what size “bite” you can chew and swallow in each sitting. It’s different for everyone. But, you’re a professional. You can decide what to accept and what to leave behind. It’s your teaching practice. Make it fit for you!
- Don’t give up when things get tough. Everything worth doing takes time and practice. Give yourself permission to begin as a beginner. New learning takes time. Hang in there. Stick with it long enough to pass through the awkward uncomfortable beginning stage. Never ever give up. You can do this. Just hang in there. Soon you’ll be able to look back and see progress. I promise.
- Celebrate along the way. Recognize and celebrate what goes well, even the tiniest bits of progress, or you’ll end up wanting to give up (Rule #6). Celebration is recognition of work accomplished and becomes the fuel in our tanks moving forward. Smile. Keep a list of small successes. Pat yourself on the back. Do a happy dance. Tell a trusted friend. Treat yourself to a cappuccino. It doesn’t matter how you celebrate. It matters that you do.
That’s it. That’s the recipe for courage and courage is an absolutely essential key to success. Once you commit to be courageous, the rest of this will be a whole bunch easier. Before you go, take a few moments to reflect on the Courage Rules.
Reflection on the Courage Rules
Which of the courage rules do you think will be easiest for you to follow? Why?
Which do you think will be most difficult? What will make it difficult?
Who do you trust and respect enough to ask for help with honoring these rules?
Where will you keep that list of successes, both big and small?