Control is comfort. Think about it: When we are in control, we feel comfortable because the path is directed by us. After all, what can go wrong when I am steering the ship? Of course, I’ve made a bullet-proof travel plan, I’ve got an average of 1.5 life vests per passenger (because safety), and lots of extra supplies in case we have to divert around a storm. It will be the perfect trip because I am perfectly planned. Right?
Let me tell you who feels good about this trip: me. The captain. I am steering the wheel and staying the course no matter what comes our way. But my passengers? They’re not having fun. They’re seasick and tired and are kind of thinking about jumping ship and taking those life vests with them. They haven’t given any input into the plan. Maybe they felt we needed to stop at an island along the way? Maybe the supplies I brought are bland and they know a fun little stop where the supplies are bold and diverse. Maybe they know a faster route, or maybe they all want to take different ships to get there? Why won’t I let them?
We have lots of reasons why we say we shouldn’t let our students take their own wheels and steer their own ships. We think they aren’t ready, or they seem unmotivated, or (insert any number of excuses here). More and more, though, I realize that it isn’t that they CAN’T take control; it’s more that I can’t seem to let them.
As a teacher who desperately wants my students to love learning and grow academically, socially, and emotionally, I feel better when I have a perfect plan, but what I learned in the #IMMOOC reading this week is that rather than having the perfect plan, I need to ask the perfect questions. And then, I need to let each student come to the answer in his/her own way while I help them all get there in whatever ways I can.
Innovation might feel uncomfortable at first. After all, if we are thinking and working in NEW and BETTER ways, that means we are constantly changing, and we’re told that change is often difficult. But what if change was the norm rather than the occasional occurrence? Life would be so much better if uncomfortable could be comfortable.
Maybe I’m ready to take off my captain’s hat after all.