what are you afraid of

Educators, what are you afraid of?

This past weekend started like many others. An early morning trip to the local hardware store with coffee and daughter in hand. We were there to gather an eclectic list of items, optimistically hoping to check a few house projects off the “list.”

I’m sure you all have “a list” too.

Instead, my 8-year-old gravitated towards the Halloween section, which to be fair, took up most of the  store. So much for my house project helper. Needless to say the “list” took a back seat.

I had honestly forgotten Halloween is knocking on the door, literally! My daughter’s excitement, mostly in anticipation of candy, but also for dressing up in costume and connecting with friends was visible to everyone in the store.

I mentally started another list.

Costumes (plural, we all dress up in this house), candy, pumpkins, glow sticks, plans with other parents, trick-or-treat route etc…. Funny how plans change at a moments notice. Our basket contained only one item we originally came for and lots of Halloween related stuff.
On the quick trip home I started to reminisce about my childhood Halloween experiences. As a child of the 80’s I remember so many scary movies that terrified me. You know the ones.

Jason Voorhees: instantly recognizable by the mask. What are you afraid of?
Many of the gory costumes still keep their memories alive today. And then this idea of fear resonated in my head for the rest of the day.

And I started to think about how fear sometimes holds me back from taking risks or trying something out of the usual.  It also reminded me of all the times I didn’t have the courage to say the right thing. All the times  I was scared. A very painful moment for sure.

I wonder more how fear shows up in our work. As educators what have we not tried because we were scared of the uncertainty.

They say facing our fears and showing vulnerability is a step in the right direction. I know when I have found the strength to tackle fears, my own anticipation was 10 times worse than reality. Now when I watch one of those scary 80’s movies, I’m not so scared. So maybe we should find ways to face what scares us most in our schools and in our work.

How do we take our dreams and make them a reality? How do we start new traditions? And how do we continue to push for what we know is best for students, regardless of opposition? How do we recognize when we are scared  and and it’s okay? What helps us find our voice and help others find theirs? How do we talk about difficult topics? How do we show vulnerability? When do we take off our masks? How do we build courage in ourselves and in our students?

It’s another long list.

Perhaps we can look for inspiration rather than fear. Perhaps we can partner with students to do the hard work. And perhaps we can find ways to celebrate risk taking? Perhaps we can remember that educators are human too. Or remember to breathe when we are stressed. We can pick up a colleague when they are down.  And then perhaps doing what right becomes better than doing what’s easy.

There is opportunity in everything. How will you face your fears and find those opportunities?

2 thoughts on “Educators, what are you afraid of?”

  1. Love this! Practicing (either mentally or verbally) the vulnerable scenarios has helped me. If I’ve been there before, I can react the way I would like when I am faced with challenging situations.
    Also, the first time I speak to a group of students (in my case athletes), I encourage them to celebrate a teammate when they fall or dive, rather than react by laughing…telling them that we expect mistakes because it means they are going a little faster, a little harder, and taking a risk. We show extra effort when we fall and take take risks and we need to recognize that is needed to become better. This is one way we try to make the vulnerable situation, a courageous situation.

What do you think?