The comfort zone can be the sweet spot for many educators.
It is the place where they are confident and masterful in the media, techniques, technologies. Sometimes the comfort zone helps teachers to be their best. It allows them to raise their students' excitement levels and speak unwaveringly with knowledge about the lesson.
As glorious as the comfort zone can be, it can also can create a hindrance in personal growth for some teachers. Yes, the safe zone feels SAFE, but the bright shiny lights of excitement for a new project start dulling as time goes on and the project is taught...and retaught...and retaught. The comfort zone can become a rubber band that bends and stretches but keeps the teacher from breaking free to try new things, teaching styles, or technologies.
At the end of last year, I came to the realization that I had entered into the comfort zone. I had passed the sweet spot and needed a change of pace. So how did I break my own self inflicted band?
I have had a running joke with my department that technology hates me. I feel dumb when I use my smart board. I delete things off the staff drive by accident. My computer refuses to connect to the server. I'm pretty sure that I am the person that can break the Internet.
This year, using Osmo in the classroom helped me to break the band. I also have a new classroom iPad that we use daily for research, art drawing apps, or with the Osmo.
I have extended my PLN, gained knowledge from other subjects, and shared the happenings of my art room with Twitter. I won my classroom iPad by being open to using Twitter at a fine arts meeting. (You can follow me on Twitter @wallerart)
I have made online tutorials and a blog. I EMBEDDED CODE. Come on, people...if that's not a band breaker, I don't know what is.
I changed my projects up this year. Yes, I still use a ton of my old projects, but rewriting my lessons in a new way to bring life back into them.
I created new projects! My students worked BIG (3'x5') and small (#minimarch). We used recycled media in a new way. I gave more time to students for the power of play and experimentation with new media and tools. We now have floor work space in the art room, a collaborative doodle board, and a artist block post-it center.
It’s okay to break the band, try new things, make mistakes, and fail or flourish. Sometimes things work, sometimes they don’t. Growth as an educator will not happen if the band is not eventually broken. Teachers should be changing, growing, and developing the person that they are in order to change, grow, and develop their students.