What great good could we do if we weren’t afraid?

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.
—William ShakespeareBl7GPV_CIAEAidP


Not sure why, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what one could do if one wasn’t afraid. Maybe it’s just me. But I don’t think so.  What great good could educators do if we weren’t afraid?  Of what are we afraid?  Failing?  Embarrassing ourselves? Judgement from kids?  Parents?  Evaluators?  Getting fired? Standing out from peers?

What happens when we let fear affect our professional lives?  Do we settle for routine?  Comfort?  Predictable?  Rote?  Coasting?  Going along to get along?

So how do we minimize fear in ourselves and others?

Somewhere along the line I read an idea about shared or distributed leadership in a school.  And actually what I read was the contrary of such leadership. “There is NOT shared leadership in a building when one needs to ask permission to do anything.”  If good educators are afraid to try things, without permission, or if the guiding principle is “Ask for forgiveness rather than permission”, does an organization actually practice distributive leadership?  I don’t think so.

What’s missing?  TrustSupport.  Knowing that whoever is in the role of leader a rung above you will have your back when/if failure, conflict, or controversy result.  Without that…fear holds.

When I was a principal, I used to think, “Give good people what they need and get out of their way.”  This was wrong thinking.  Better thinking would be, “Give good people what they need then stand in front, beside, and behind them as they do their work.”  Because what they need is the knowledge that you have their back. Actively have their back. Trust and support.  And these two things need to be consistent and public.

The instant one leaves the classroom, one becomes suspect.  Ok hotshot, you have lots of good ideas about what to do in the classroom, but you don’t have to do them.  You don’t have to be afraid anymore.  Not true.

The truth is I started and deleted this post twice because I was afraid to post it.

But here it is.

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

Good call Mr. Shakespeare.  Thank you.

Author: Jnelson

Jeff Nelson Fife School District Assistant Superintendent:Teaching-Learning-Innovation 39 years as an educator. 16 years teacher 3 years assistant principal 12 years principal 8 years Assistant Superintendent BA, Washington State University MAEd, Washington State University Previous member of AWSP Legislative Committee Previous member of UW Tacoma PEAB, Administrative Certification Established and maintained Fife’s first website for 7 years Present work includes establishing the first Teaching/Learning/Innovation department in the Fife School District. Examples of responsibilities include: teacher/administrator professional development, assessment, TPEP, curriculum/materials review, 24 credit requirement, technology levy leadership, teacher/administrator bargaining. Initiatives underway in Fife, as a result of new TLI Department: AVID, OER, Curriculum and Materials reviews, Student Perception Pilot with CSTP, Google Expedition Cofounder of Educational Internet Communications, LLC. Marketed and sold one of the first online grade checking programs in the US. Consulted with Seattle Educational Internet Company for 2 years. jnelson@fifeschools.com twitter.com/jeffnelsonTLI

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