Work toward becoming an example of bravery in education to encourage students to try new things, embrace failure, and ask meaningful questions.
The role of teachers is not that of parents and no one should expect this type of authority from an educator, but there is an inherent duty to cultivate positive qualities by guiding students. Leading by example sounds easy in theory, but exhibiting the qualities that allow teachers to embody bravery in education can be more difficult.
It’s Not Just Okay to Fail—It’s Crucial
While it might seem that the brightest minds in the world are the epitome of perfection, they didn’t reach the highest levels of success through perfectly executing every experiment.
The same can be said of teaching. Simply standing in front of a room of 20 or 30 students is intimidating. Combining the pressure of maintaining the attention of this audience of youngsters with the possibility of teachers having to reveal their humanity can be extremely daunting, especially for those educators who don’t know how to gather the courage within to exhibit bravery in education. Though it might not seem to be the case, teachers who are able to embrace their own failures and use this experience as a lesson for students will set a much better example.
As part of employing a growth mindset in the classroom, teachers lead students to embrace their own mistakes and use errors in a positive way on the path toward mastery. If teachers aren’t able to accept a growth mindset as an approach to failure for their own errors, they will not be able to completely implement this practice among students.
Know that Not Knowing Is an Opportunity
Promoting the use of mistakes as part of the learning process has become recognized as integral to fresh pedagogy, but what about a teacher who admits that they don’t have an answer? Though educators are often viewed by, well, everyone as omniscient sources of information, a strong indication of bravery in education is when teachers admit they are things they don’t know—even within their content area.
It might come as a surprise, but students will find it refreshing and be more at ease when teachers admit their uncertainties. Teachers can use these opportunities to learn with students and research new topics together. Through this type of problem solving, students will see that even the most knowledgeable, respected adults whom they admire are still capable of and excited about learning, regardless of age or education level.
Cultivating Courage in Students
Cultivating courage among students is extremely challenging, as kids grapple with many external factors that can contribute to low self-esteem. In addition to teachers setting an strong example of bravery in education for students, educators can teach children to help themselves by believing in their own abilities.
Through Amazon’s WithMathICan initiative, students take a pledge to work toward adopting a growth mindset. After students take the pledge, be certain to remind them about this goal during their moments of uncertainty. Amazon also includes resources for educators and parents to use to encourage student progress through finding growth through failure. Be sure to share this information with parents during a conference meeting, or in a class newsletter so parents can model growth mindset attitudes at home.
Trying something new by participating in the school community will also help students to become braver. Working with peers toward common goals, such as the school newspaper or government, students will cultivate confidence and gain a stronger sense of self. When students take ownership over these types of projects they will also become more curious and intrinsically motivated. When coupled with a strong sense of self, this curiosity will make students more likely to ask questions, enabling them to grow.
Gaining bravery in education doesn’t happen overnight. It must be cultivated through confidence in choices and positive reactions to failure. Once a teacher or student has built that courage and is confident in his or her purpose, exhibiting bravery in education will become easier.