Think about it. Thirty to forty eyes staring right at you. Your palms begin to sweat. They are listening to your every word. Their heads track you as you move around the room, waiting to hear what your next utterance is. Are they waiting to pounce on me if I make a mistake? Are they listening? Am I in control?

Sounds intimidating, right?

This is not a description of a jury staring at a attorney, although it may feel like that for some. It is the sensation that many new teachers share during their initial years of teaching as they start to grow comfortable with being in the classroom. In fact, some veteran teachers may also feel this way.

One of the toughest skills to develop as a teacher is the willingness to give up control in our classrooms. In teacher preparation programs, pre-service teachers are often taught to plot out every step of the lesson. While in the public schools, I sat in on a number of formal observations where discussion focused on why the lesson had deviated from the script.

We need to do away with the perception and the desire to have our classrooms work like finely honed clockwork or seem like they are following a movie script. This type of highly choreographed instruction does not benefit our students, but does help us as educators maintain our illusion of control in our classrooms.

I have written previously about how learning requires risk taking. In a safe environment, students will be more willing to go out on a limb and grow as they extend themselves. Given that we are constantly learning as educators, it should come as no surprise that we should be taking instructional risks as teachers and administrators.

Risk taking means trying something new or doing something different and this is not easy. We often cling to older lessons and practices because we are comfortable with them and think we can predict the results. To keep growing as educators, though, we need to commit to risk taking. Have you re-envisioned a lesson recently? Have you engaged in serious reflection about your practices as an administrator? Make yourself take the opportunity to extend yourself. and model the very risk taking that you want your students to make.

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