For the last twenty years I’ve focused my professional life on pedagogical change. First, mine and now other peoples and mine. For the last twelve years (or four thousand, six hundred and twenty-three consecutive days to be precise [as of 3rd May 2022]) I’ve reflectively journaled on that change. The key thing I think I’ve learnt about pedagogical change (as result of these journeys) is that “almost every possible thing can go wrong.” Wheels can fall off; dead ends can be hit at great velocity; and I can end up with egg on my face in ways I didn’t think were possible. But, to date, not one of them has been pedagogically fatal. Not one of them has stopped me teaching. And every one of them has taught me something – even if it’s just not to try that again.
The truth is I’d do most of them again…avoiding eggs and high velocity crashes into dead ends of course.
As a physical education teacher who teaches physical education teachers to be physical education teachers (as my daughter succinctly says) I’ve seen a lot of lessons. As someone who goes into schools and helps PE departments develop, I’ve seen lots more lessons. As a teacher I’ve taught a lot of lessons and the common message across all these experiences is there is always room for change.
Every lesson goes wrong in some way, and we adapt. Some lessons are doomed to fail from the start. In fact, they’ve been failing for years because the pedagogy doesn’t match the learner(s). Truth is I used to teach lesson after lesson after lesson with some classes that had longer odds of success than me winning Olympic gold. And yet I kept trying.
Because I expected change to be hard and I don’t want it to be hard. Because it was their fault for not learning it right not mine for not teaching it right. Because I’d rather suffer the short-term discomfort of getting through a lesson than do something new…
Today, I know change won’t be pedagogically fatal and it won’t hurt half as much as I think. I know that everything could potentially go wrong but I don’t care. Why? Because I know I’m talking small steps (like adding an extra press-up to my routine every day) and I know I can manage it and can adjust and if I can’t then I could try walking instead. I also know in 40 days I could either be doing 40 press-ups or walking 400 metres but even if I’m only do 20 or 200 it’s likely to better than it was before.
So, my challenge is to embrace the change and all the things that could go wrong and do something different today for the learners in your life. What could possibly go wrong?
Or…perhaps…think about what could possibly go right!
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Pair this post with the following:
Do Not Confuse, or Conflate by Carlos Andrés Gómez
The Power of Meaningful and Joyful Experiences by Leticia Cariño