When we realize our students aren’t growing, or just seem not to be getting it, we teachers feel deflated. For some teachers I know, seeing a perfectly-put-together, organized classroom leaves them full of self-doubt. Even simple feedback from an evaluation can leave some of us feeling less confident and unsure—we may lack courage in our own abilities.
Teachers have two kinds of courage: Big Crisis Courage, and Everyday Invisible Courage. When teachers maneuver skillfully in stressful circumstances, that’s Big Crisis Courage. For instance, when a child falls off a swing or hits their head, we’re able to deftly and swiftly make a decision. And even in a larger crisis (anything from severe danger to minor danger to children) we teachers become superheroes. Most teachers I know excel at this type of courage.
Everyday Invisible Courage, on the other hand, is more elusive to many of us. It’s the courage that comes with standing up for our beliefs in our OWN abilities or ideas, despite “popular opinion”.
You might show this sort of courage when you choose to use what you know is right for your classroom—research-based and time-tested—as opposed to what the rest of your team is doing. Or you might have an idea in a meeting—and speak up–even though you are afraid. Uncompromising will—not swaying to mere trends or “popular” belief—that’s Everyday Invisible Courage—that’s real superhero stuff.
I remember several years ago I was in a parent meeting with a very angry parent. She insisted her child should be a Safety Patrol student. While this student’s behavioral issues were minor, I knew that putting this student in a position of authority would bring negative consequences.
I am not a fan of confrontation but I knew I needed to have an uncompromising will in this situation. I knew the right decision—instead of just “giving it a go” and letting the consequences prove it out. I had to stand up for my choice—without being too negative with the parent—it was a fine line to walk.
But in the end, I stayed true to my word instead of giving in. I was proud of myself for it.
How can you bring out your own inner superhero every single day? Try this two step approach that’s sure to transform you into the Super-Woman (or Man) you are meant to be.
Step 1. Love Yourself. I know this sounds a little “out there” in Crazyland but you need to look yourself in the mirror and say, “I love you.” It’ll feel uncomfortable at first but it’ll get easier AND feel better each time.
The reason this works is that so many of us don’t actually love ourselves and don’t even realize it. Loving ourselves is the first step to having the courage of our convictions. I learned this technique from the founder of MindValley and the author of “The Code of the Extraordinary Mind”, Vishen Lakhiani.
That “I love you” practice works to rewire your brain, replacing all the negative thoughts and self-doubt we’ve embraced since childhood or adolescence through adulthood. It’s time to let that sh*t go.
Step 2. Gather Knowledge. If you doubt yourself because of a lack of knowledge—get it. Read more. Gather the information. Back up your decision with data. No one can argue with data—you have evidence on your side. Begin with some of these blog posts, full of realistic tools and teacher strategies—they’re all based upon research!
Everyday Invisible Courage is what you already have—you just have to unleash it. It’s time to take off your Clark (or Carol?) Kent outfit—and embrace who you are. You can either do the work now, or live with everyday doubt until then. It’s all up to you. I know you’ll choose courage.