Push Your Boundaries

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by JMRosenfeld

In addition to my job as an administrator, I coach some basketball. One of my favorite lines to use with my players when I challenge them to do something they haven’t done before is “I wouldn’t ask you to do it if I didn’t think you could.” It works really well when the task or challenge is something way out of their comfort zone. I remember asking a rookie on our team to take over the defensive responsibility of covering the other team’s star player. He looked at me like I was insane, and I gave him the line – “I wouldn’t ask you to cover him if I didn’t think you could shut him down”. Regardless of the result, there is a blast of confidence for that player and an opportunity for them to prove me right.

At the start of this school year I had someone do the very same thing for me. As many of you know, George Couros works in my division, and has been helping me get involved with Twitter and Social Media. George was kind enough to sit with me, teach me about Twitter and Tweetdeck, show me sites for creating a blog and tell me all about the amazing connections you can make by developing a PLN. I was excited, started tweeting and blogging and learned a lot in a short period of time.

Around Christmas, I started to get really bogged down with work, stressed out by the busy nature of the pre-holiday school craziness and simply worn out. I left for the holidays and stopped interacting on Twitter as much, I completely stopped blogging and really detached from my PLN. By the end of January, still with no posts on my blog and a vanishing presence on Twitter, George contacted me. He talked to me about the value in staying connected and the importance of reflecting, especially when times are tough. He pretty much threw down the gauntlet and implied there really is no excuse for letting that part of life, and my career, go so easily. I really needed that push.

Yesterday, as I prepared for a presentation that I will be making to our staff on Twitter and PLN’s, I sent out a tweet requesting a video that talked about WHY we should use Twitter. There are some great videos on HOW to use Twitter and great blog posts on WHY (see here, here, and here) but I couldn’t track down a video that spoke to the WHY (There may very well BE one, I just couldn’t find it). Lyn Hilt, another Social Media and Education guru, dropped me a Tweet simply saying “Maybe you should make one”. And there it was again, the coach telling me to go out and do something outside my comfort zone, the push to challenge myself and improve myself as a player… er… I mean educator.

I have NO idea how to make a video, NO idea how to edit a video, NO idea how to add graphics, manage the audio, post it somewhere, I am pretty much clueless. But you know, I trust Lyn, and I trust that she wouldn’t ask me to do something I couldn’t do. So I am going to give it a try, and I am going to see what I can do when it comes to producing a video. I am going to see if I can prove her right. It seems every time I have been challenged to do something out of my comfort zone this year, as a new administrator, I have learned and I have grown. Many times I have grown by reflecting and learning how I could have handled a situation more effectively, but regardless it was always beneficial experience.

Sometimes we are lucky enough to have someone push us, but other times we need to push ourselves. We need to find opportunities to do something out of our comfort zone, that will create an opportunity to learn but more importantly to grow. When we find these opportunities we need to trust in our abilities, trust in our judgment and trust in our principles, because these three will most often guide us to a successful conclusion. In the end, my video may very well be terrible, but I know that by trying to do this I will learn skills I can teach my students, I will grow in my ability to present to my peers and I will be a better person for challenging myself to do something I previously couldn’t.

7 thoughts on “Push Your Boundaries

  1. I love this post, Jesse!

    Just today in the teachers’ workroom at my school, I heard someone complaining about the staff development they had yesterday. The quote that ruffled my feathers was, “We have to face it that some of us just aren’t good with technology. I’m never going to use that tool.”

    One part of me wanted to stick around and explain how some technology tools help to transform learning for kids, but I didn’t. I just said, “but your kids need you to try your best!” Then I walked back to my classroom. I hope my response seemed more encouraging than preachy, and that the focus was back on what’s best for kids.

    Can’t wait to see your movie. 🙂

  2. You can do it, Jesse, and whatever assistance you need, you know where to find it. 🙂 Looking forward not only to the video but also to your continued contributions to our learning!

  3. I love this post. Creating and maintaining a PLN is essential to staying on top of teaching. Teaching changes day to day, and with the proper resources, teacher become out of date very quickly.

  4. I am feeling the pressure, though completely self-inflicted, to stay connected and to reflect, learn, engage, interact, correspond, encourage….the list goes on. It is hard enough for us to do that with the people we see face-to-face, day after day, let alone the network of people out there in cyberland.

    Your post encouraged me, on a day that I really needed it.


  5. Wow! What an inspirational post Jesse! I love ur coaching analogy! It’s hard to step out of our comfort zones but like you’ve said, we wi be better learners and educators for having stepped out of our comfort zones. We always preach or complain that our students won’t step out of the box but how can they if we don’t show them how by doing it ourselves!

  6. I really enjoyed reading this post – and appreciate your honesty in sharing how challenging it is to extend yourself into new and unfamiliar territory. Your basketball team AND your staff are so fortunate to have you leading the learning and inspiring them with your willingness to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Lead on, Jesse!

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