Why Teaching Dangerously?

I have had this blog title in my head for a while.

For the last couple of years I have felt like I am stepping into uncharted territory in my teaching. I am not saying that I am taking risks with my kids’ learning, but rather, I am taking risks with my own teaching. I am not playing it safe, because my students are on the brink — in so many ways — and I owe it to them to push myself to places I feel uncomfortable.

While I value others’ opinions, I am no longer beholden to others’ opinions of my competence. I know I am competent, and I am good at what I do. I have doubted myself for years, and I’m done with that.

I am not afraid to voice dissent at school if I see something that will not serve our young people or will not serve our teachers’ health and well-being.  I did not always speak up for fear of not being “nice,” “polite,” or being considered a “troublemaker.” These labels, or the lack thereof, don’t trouble me anymore.

I am using the arts in my teaching as I never have; I no longer see the arts as an add-on, but as integral to traditional notions of “achievement” and to my notions of what being fully human is.

I am trying new ways of teaching — specifically, making thinking visible, design thinking, arts integration — with a fearlessness that feels, at time, dangerous. Usually, it feels exhilarating.

I have never been afraid to voice my views that all humans deserve respect, love and joy — which I express through always-evolving anti-racist, feminist, pro-worker, anti-homo/transphobic curriculum  — but I am now trying to fearlessly foreground issues that threaten our humanity with all teachers I work with, both face to face, and on twitter and in my PLNs.

I am ceding more and more control to my students. I am comfortable with keeping the long view in mind, and I know that progress does not look like a steady, straight line. I am comfortable with the iterative zigs and zags that learning takes, and I am learning to become comfortable telling visitors to my classroom that what they see is the beauty of young people negotiating their way to meaning. But I am a runner, and I know that the rub is in the endurance. We’ll make it, even if it doesn’t always look pretty.

So. I will teach dangerously. I will make mistakes and trip up. I will not let those fumbles allow me to retreat to safety. Que viva el peligro!

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