Saturday, October 17, 2015

Comfort Zones

Comfort zones. I have the biggest ones. The biggest leaps of faith I have ever taken involved me stepping out of my comfort zone. Before I get to far into this I just to be clear that in certain situations having a comfort zone and staying in it is a measure of protection. Sometimes it is okay to stay in your zone. Looking back over the past few years I'm pretty sure I could have saved myself some heart break and stress if I just stayed in my zone. However for the most when I step out of my comfort zone, explore new things, meet new people, and encounter new journeys my life is better for it. Some of them meet seem weird, but they are my comfort zones and I'm a weird person so it is okay.

Leaving Arkansas

Leaving Arkansas and leaving my family to go to college in Oklahoma and then to stay in Oklahoma when starting my post graduate career was a huge step out of my comfort zone. I knew no one when left and went to OBU. I knew maybe two or three people when I moved to Broken Arrow to start my teaching career. This comfort zone. This leap of faith. It has been the biggest blessing of my life. Don't get me wrong, I miss my family, but starting out on my own as been an incredibly rewarding experience. 

Joining An Adult Kickball League

I am not athletic. I hate sweating. I hate exercise. But this has been fun. I have made new friends. And learned that I'm really not *that bad* at playing kickball. 

Kodaly Certification

I thought Kodaly was just for elementary music teachers. I had no idea that when I left the comfort zone of "I think I know my job and what I'm doing, I don't need this" how much I didn't know my job and what I was doing, and oh boy did I need this. My Kodaly training has changed everything. It was scary and hard. It involved me having to do things that I really don't enjoy, and things that don't naturally come easy for me. However it has made me a better musician and a better teacher therefore making me a better teacher of musicians. 

All of this has me thinking, what are we as educators doing to move our students out of their comfort zones? How we showing our students to take calculated and well thought out risks? Is it enough? Can we be doing more? In this day of high stakes testing are we just teaching kids the safe way to learn? Each week when I'm planning out my lessons I try to think of one way to move my students out of their comfort zones. In a music performance class, sometimes that concert we have coming up or that honor choir audition is what takes a student out of their comfort zone. For many kids just to stand on stage in a performance is a really nervous experience and if they aren't encouraged and pushed they may never take that step. I have seen so many of my students that have been freaking out before we go on stage, get on that stage and perform their little hearts out, and at the end are begging for more performance time! For the Love it makes me ugly cry every single time. I have one student and he as an amazing voice, last year he really wanted to audition for a solo, but was really worried. He could perform it fine in class everyday, but he was so worried and scared about performing it on stage for his family and peers. I just told him that I was right behind and him and proud of him no matter what. He stepped up the mic and sang his heart out. Girls cheered him on and were screaming out his name, he was like Bono. For a seventh grade boy to have a group of girls chant your name might be the biggest confidence boost ever. He stepped out of his comfort zone. Now this boy asked for a solo all the time and he sings everywhere that he goes.

We should all be doing something to get students out of their comfort zones. I think that easiest way to start to just know your students and love them. Let them know that you know them and that you love them. Once that they see that you know them and you love them, they can trust you. They can trust you with their comfort zones, and they can do more that you and they ever imagined. Just think of all of the cool and amazeball things that we can do in our classrooms when we move our students out of their comfort zones and give them more responsibility for their own learning. I can picture it in my head and I'm just blown away by it! 

So I ask you these questions. What are your comfort zones? What is holding you back from chasing your dream? If you are an educator what are you doing to encourage your students to seek out more than their comfort zones? This week I'm going to challenge my students to identify their comfort zones and I'm going to share mine with them, and together we are going to step out of them. Together we are going to do some cool and awesome stuff. 

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