Confronting Complacency

A few days ago I attended the Mighty Peace Teachers Convention where, for the second time in recent memory, Rick Wormeli was invited as a session presenter and delivered the opening keynote address titled, What we Could Do if we Were Brave Together. I’ve had the pleasure of listening to Rick in the past and his unique gift of combining a quick wit with deep pedagogical knowledge once again had the crowd highly engaged for over an hour.

Rick seems to always hit on a few very important ideas and this presentation was no exception. Some of my key take-aways were similar to those in the past:

  • Don’t wave at your students from the edge of the pit; jump in with them.
  • It’s no longer either homework or school work; its just work.
  • Fair isn’t always equal.
  • Re-do’s are a good thing.
  • Think creatively to meet the needs of your students.

In this presentation, however, he spent a good deal of time talking about something I had not heard from him before. Standing in front of over a thousand teachers I watched as he strongly encouraged them not only to challenge themselves to transform their teaching but to challenge each other as well. “When we are brave“, he said, “we find the freedom, language, and spirit to confront complacency and ineffective practice, and, even better, to do something about them.” He went on to suggest that in order to push all of us closer to the kind of teacher we always wanted to be, we need to build a school culture that cultivates pedagogical courage. For about 15 minutes he drove this point home again and again.complacency

As an individual responsible for human resources, I want to sincerely thank Rick Wormeli for opening up this conversation with teachers in my district. There are many forward thinking and innovative individuals out there who I’m sure appreciated the challenging words of encouragement. In my role I’m fortunate enough to come across these trail blazers every day and have witnessed first hand many teachers who are quietly moving their practice to new heights while, at the same time, the colleague across the hall holds on to outdated and traditional methods.

Policy makers, district leaders, and school principals are really only a small part of changing teaching. If we want grass roots transformation in our schools, we need our trail blazing teachers to be brave and confront that colleague across the hall. Not only should you challenge them, you should offer to help them as well.

I hope and pray that Rick’s message will resonate with teachers and move them into action.

Categories: 21st Century Competencies, 21st Century Learning, Capacity Building, Education Transformation | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Confronting Complacency

  1. A powerful and topical message as always. We have some sort of weird synchronicity because you often blog about something that seems so pertinent to my current state. We’re having a whole school workshop on inquiry based learning tomorrow followed by a staff meeting Weds to look at if this is something our staff feels comfortable moving forward with. I know there is much hesitation and fear. One line that particularly resonated with me was, “I’m fortunate enough to come across these trail blazers every day and have witnessed first hand many teachers who are quietly moving their practice to new heights while, at the same time, the colleague across the hall holds on to outdated and traditional methods.” My own struggle is how to suggest to a hard working staff that some of their methods ARE outdated and overly traditional. It’s not a judgment as I know some of the ways I taught clearly wouldn’t be considered trail blazing when I look at what’s out there today. The question I come back to again….how to open people’s eyes. I guess I need to be brave! Thanks for the push.


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  4. Thanks, Greg. This means a lot. It’s interesting, though, that the teachers in the room must have been ready to hear that message. If they weren’t ready, it wouldn’t have resonated as it did. I appreciate Mighty Peace schools for creating culture where I presentation like mine would find solid footing, even compelling invitation. Thank you for posting such thoughtful insights and, of course, larger applications. Your comments make the long travel deeply worth it. — Rick


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