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What's Your Comfort Zone?

    I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a whole month with my twin sister, Lisa.  This is the most time we have been able to spend together since she left me 6 years ago to move 10 HOURS away!  (Can you tell I didn't handle this move well?)  She and her children spent several weeks here at my home and then my family stayed a week with her at her home.  This last part required my family to pack up and make the ten hour drive to her home in lower Alabama.

Now, I was super excited about this trip because my sister's house is within an hour and half from the beach!  Yay, beach time!  However, my reaction to this vacation and my husband's reaction were completely different.  Let me explain...

Me:   Yay vacation, beach time, traveling, seeing new sites, woohoo ROAD TRIP!
Jack:  ugh vacation, loading the car, driving places I'm not familiar, going to places I'm not familiar, ughhhh road trip!

    As you can see I'm much more comfortable with trying new things, going new places, and relaxing.  When talking with my husband about vacation he made the comment, "I know everyone else likes vacation and thinks it's relaxing, but for me vacation is the exact opposite.  It stresses me out!  I worry about work, the house, the pets, driving in places I'm not familiar, and all the things that could go wrong when you're away from home.".  Wow!  I thought for a long time about this comment and really started to understand that, for him, going away for vacation is stepping out of his comfort zone.  Something I view as so simple and easy is hard for him.  The expected reaction that most people have to vacation is not at all the reaction he has.  
Newest classroom set up.
The 1st classroom set up.
    This got me thinking about my students, fellow teachers, and administrators.  First my thoughts went to my administrators who have worked so hard this year to get our staffulty to step out of the box and grow in ways we might not have thought about doing ourselves. Ha! They were gently urging us out of our comfort zones!  My fellow teachers and I felt excited and were willing  to make this journey because our administrators (aka lead learners) had taken the time to create a safe zone for us.  They grew a school culture that empowered us to feel adventurous enough to try new things that were out of our comfort zones.  My students benefited from this because they got see Mrs. Savage taking chances.  They watched me rearrange our classroom furniture about one million times while I was delving into the idea of an alternative classroom.  They saw me try, fail, try again, express my discomfort with some of the arrangements, and persevere at the "new" thing I was trying to do.  
    Next, I thought of our students.  Comfort zones can feel like steel fences wrapped around us.  Something we think is easy might be hard for them to do.  We need to create  class cultures where mistakes are not only accepted, but expected!  When we model our own failures and risk taking we empower our students to step a little further outside of their comfort zone.  The steel fence gets broken down a little more each time they experience the opportunity to take a risk.  These risk taking moments will happen when you do the work to create an environment that will foster them.

“Students will do amazing things if you can design a class and environment that is positive and empowering.  Rising up to and overcoming challenges, building lifetime relationships, and forging positive connections to school won’t directly result in better test scores.  It will result in better people.  Isn’t that what we’re really trying to accomplish?” ~ Dave Burgess, Teach Like a Pirate

     Think about your comfort zone.  When is the last time you stepped out of it?  Why did you do it?  What motivated you to take the risk?  How can you do the same for your students, fellow teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators?  BE THE PERSON WHO INSPIRES SOMEONE TO STEP OUT OF THEIR COMFORT ZONE!

~ Liz
My inspiration! 


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