Friday, April 17, 2009

Hot Zone

My friend Courtney has been writing a travel blog, and she decided recently to broaden her scope to include travels that are closer to home, or even more introspective, within herself. She reassures her readers "My title 'Winding Roads and Close Calls' is still relevant because my goal will always be to focus on experiences in my life that cause me to step out of my comfort zone!"

I so loved that idea because I work to step out of mine all the time. I'm an introvert who has some anxiety issues, but I know that life is best lived through experience, so I try to stretch myself from time to time. If I lived totally within my comfort zone, I might never leave the house so I work to avoid certain agoraphobia. 

More importantly, I teach students for whom school is a daily challenge. There is little involved in "school" that falls within the comfort zone of a student with dyslexia. As teachers and administrators, we strive to make the experience more comfortable and give students opportunities to explore their strengths and develop areas of competence; to fulfill our goal of making them successful, we need to help them develop resilience. They need to know what it feels like to acknowledge that something is difficult for them, trust that they can attempt it, and ultimately complete it. As educators, the only way we can appreciate what it feels like to take that leap of faith is to take on our own challenges and battle our own demons. We need to remember what it feels like to be that kid who counts ahead to see which question the teacher will ask him so that he can practice the answer; we need to remember what it feels like to do the calculus homework, study for the test, and get a C; we need to remember what it feels like to read the same damn word over and over again and STILL not be able to read it right.

So this week, I challenged myself to read a poem aloud in morning meeting. It would not be a big deal for many people, but public speaking makes me extremely uncomfortable. The Introvert (as I have taken to referring to myself in the third person) does not DO public readings. Nevertheless, we've been asking students and teachers to volunteer to read poems each day in celebration of April's National Poetry Month so I did. If at least two dyslexic kids could read aloud to the student body, then I certainly could too. It made me uncomfortable, and I'm not itching to do it again on Monday, but I did it. I got through it, and I proved to myself that it's sort of okay.

If I can do it, you can do it too.  I encourage you to take a step outside your comfort zone as well.  Do something that makes you a little nervous...dabble in it for minute, in a safe environment, and then retreat if you want too...sort of like Duncan's bath in 2 inches of water. If you can put yourself in that position, maybe you'll open up new doors or new perspectives. Maybe, you'll just remember for a minute how it feels to be challenged, or maybe you'll understand yourself, your friends and family, or the world around in a different way.  

As Courtney says "Of course, there are those journeys that don't require any travel at all but still move you forward: when a friend pushes you to reconsider your assumptions, when the approaching birthday creates angst and hope, when a day at the office makes you want to scream and laugh, or when a quiet moment at home reminds you to appreciate things just the way they are."  Just take a step.
Post a Comment