Courage. It is defined as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty” (Merriam Webster) It takes courage to be in education. It takes courage because you have to be willing to not only celebrate your successes as an educator but to also dig deeply into your failures. You have to be willing to turn over the “rocks” that data presents, look carefully at what is underneath and embrace the opportunities to learn and grow that each dark spot represents.
It is hard. It is much easier to walk by the dark spots…pretend that they are not there and carry on like you never saw them. To deny their very existence.
It takes time. Time to look into the darkness, look at its features, interpret what it is saying, find trends, ask questions, reflect, discuss, pursue and think.
It needs vision. To imagine the possibilities, think outside of the “way we have always done it”, dream, create, recreate, see, re-see and explore.
It takes nerve. Nerve to try something new…not knowing if it will succeed. Nerve to stand in front of a group of learners and ask them to try something different. Nerve to admit when it is not working and ask why. Nerve to question. Nerve to try.
It is made stronger by perseverance. The desire to never give up. The willingness to continue pushing forward…pushing yourself, your learners, your colleagues. We can NOT stop learning and learning is stopped when we are reluctant to look at the whole picture the data provides. Learning is stopped when we close our eyes to things that are not working, and not supporting growth. By stopping our learning we stop our ability to solve problems.
It takes strength, mental dedication and heart. We have to be willing to speak, listen, think, and engage in a situation in order to make change happen. Sitting back and waiting for others to solve problems or tell us what to do diminishes our power, our control and our ability to really make a difference. We need to be willing to look at the darkness, acknowledge its existence, and meet it head on. We need to be a part of the solution.
It is driven by passion. It is the passion that makes us do what we need to do. It helps us carry on in the face of darkness, hardship, and uncomfortable situations. This passion is rooted not just in learning but in our learners. As educators we need to have passion to support our students in their learning journey, cultivate dreams, open opportunities and honour individuals.
It requires forgiveness. Forgiveness of others who are unwilling or unable to look into the darkness. Forgiveness of yourself when you fail to show courage, through what you do or what you choose not to do. Forgiveness that will allow you to regroup, refocus and remember that tomorrow is another day to show courage in the face of darkness because our learners are always worth it! It takes courage.
You can’t have any successes unless you can accept failure. ~George Cukor