A Step Outside the Comfort Zone

I have that personality trait that doesn’t easily allow me to step outside my comfort zone.  I don’t like change because I fear failure.  I go by the notion of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  I like becoming good at something, and then sticking with it.  If I have to change things, then I may not be good at it.  I may not understand it, and that worries me.  This year I have been forced to step outside of my comfort zone in a couple of different ways.  I struggled with it at first, but I think I may just becoming okay with it.

Basically in all the subjects I teach this year I have had to change some things.  I have been forced to teach in a different way, and that doesn’t always sit easy with me.  I tend to make excuses and have that fixed mindset that doesn’t allow me to accept that change.  In math, we switched to Eureka math.  Another change in our math curriculum.  They seem never ending!  In reading, I had to do these books clubs that really didn’t make any sense to me at first.  Now that I have started them, they are actually pretty cool and I feel like the kids are truly benefiting from them. Every time I get comfortable with something, it changes!  What I have failed to accept, is times are changing.  Kids are changing.  I have to change.  I actually enjoy the new math, even though it challenges the kids like never before.  I think that is good for them.  It forces them to think deeper, and that should be what education is all about.

That was the easy one though.  In social studies, we basically were told to just figure it out this year.  They gave us the standards that needed to be hit, but that was it.  Luckily for me I have amazing colleagues (yeah that’s you Butter and Murph), that pushed me into coming up with some cool ideas.  We came up with some sweet lesson plans that the kids really enjoyed, and it turned out pretty perfect.  Then what else but change happened again!  We went to a workshop with the woman who helped create ALL of the standards for social studies in Illinois.  She’s good! She told us about this new “inquiry” model of teaching, and told us how amazing it was.  She made it sound so simple.  WTH!  Another change.  I don’t know how to do this!  So I did what I do best, I resisted.  I got that fixed mindset thing going again, and thought well maybe next year….true Cubs fan.  Once again my colleagues pushed me to try it.  We have no idea what we are doing, but we are doing it. We were told that each time we teach this, the students may go in completely different directions.  They are supposed to choose what they are learning…WHAT??  I am not comfortable with that.  How does that even work?  Well we are doing it, and so far, it is working.  I think.  I guess we will know more at the end, but the best part is, who cares if it doesn’t work out perfectly.  We will learn as we go and adjust as needed.  The kids are responding well and I think that this may just work. We have some fun things planned for them and I think they will end up really enjoying it.

I have learned a lot this year.  Maybe more than I have in the last few years.  It is all because I have been pushed out of that comfort zone.  I have been forced to accept it, but that is okay.  I have to learn to go with the flow, and change as the kids change.  I look at NCAA basketball as my guidelines.  These amazing coaches who have coached for 30 plus years have had to completely change the way the recruit and coach because of the one and done rule.  They also have a totally different type of kid to work with.  I see them change and realize if they are capable of that, then I can too. I am actually kind of excited to try these new things. I may fail, but that’s okay too.  I will learn from that.

Then to the biggest change coming up.  New partner next year after ten years with the same one.  We may have to get into that at a later post.


  1. Cassie King · March 7, 2018

    Change is so hard. The funny thing about it though is that it usually doesn’t end up being so bad and eventually you will forget that it even was a change. It’s those first steps that take a ton of momentum…


  2. Lee Ann Spillane · March 7, 2018

    Yes! Way to go! Change can be quite uncomfortable, but it can also be exhilarating. So good to hear your kids are enjoying or seeming to enjoy inquiry. We had a Canadian teacher/writer, Trevor MacKenzie, come out to our school last year (and this year) to walk teacher teams through inquiry– such rich work–I love that kids get an opportunity to be active participants and co-constructors of what and how they will learn!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mcteaguem · March 7, 2018

      It is a very cool approach to teaching. It is just so hard sometimes to give up that control.


  3. LSquared · March 7, 2018

    Change is mildly to radically upsetting for all of us. Sounds like you have a lot of it dished up. And I’ll be curious to hear how you begin to feel about inquiry based learning and teaching after you’re seasoned. I like your voice in this writing — it sounds like you just sitting down to coffee (tea?) with me and telling me just how it is for you. I had to laugh when you commented on what you do best! Resist! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • mcteaguem · March 7, 2018

      I am looking forward to see how it will go myself. Resistance is one of my many talents:)


  4. annegabrielleblog · March 7, 2018

    It is admiring that you are brave enough to step out of that comfort zone! I am not that easy… loved this!
    Please, write about your next partner!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mcteaguem · March 7, 2018

      Unfortunately the waiting game for my next partner has started. It is painful not to know, so hopefully I will find out soon! I will update when it does happen though!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. khays41 · March 7, 2018

    I am usually the first in line to try something new. I also can drag my feet when I think we are changing just to change. And we have Eureka and I am still waiting for the love to kick in on this curriculum.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mcteaguem · March 7, 2018

      You are definitely braver than I am. I totally agree about the change to just change thing. That drives me nuts! Eureka is different, but it is starting to grow on me.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Melody · March 7, 2018

    Um, yes, new partner next year! HUGE change! I feel like since I started teaching, the “curriculum” is new every single year. Maybe beacuse I am now used to that, I can adapt a little bit. But I have to admit, the very little (if anything) we have been given for science and social studies, that is a challenge!


  7. berries781 · March 7, 2018

    You know it’s funny…in music we finally have a decent curriculum but it still doesn’t really tell us exactly what to teach. It pretty much just gives us the standard and then a slightly more specific unit. But we then come up with all of our own lessons, assessments, projects, etc. part of me wants to say, I wish we had someone to give us what to teach. But the biggest part of me says, it is awesome being able to come up with my own stuff! So embrace that! You get to do some pretty neat things that way!


  8. Michelle · March 7, 2018

    Change is uncomfortable for sure. But you have great supports and are making it happen. A new partner is an intimidating thought, that will be a whole lot of change. The beauty in that is that you won’t be alone, that person will be learning with you!!


  9. Sara Tomasevich · March 7, 2018

    This was a really honest, vulnerable reflection. I think back to the teachers we had, and something tells me the textbooks, workbooks, and general curriculum changed less in ten years than it does in our district (and probably many other districts too). It has become a part of us, to expect change. But nevertheless, it is SO hard. Whoever your teaching partner is next year, they have large shoes (or crowns) to fill.


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