Taking risks is hard. Putting yourself out there for the world to judge is scary and incredibly difficult sometimes. And yet, we ask our students to do just that every day. I know I have been guilty of forgetting just how many risks I ask my students to take with me, especially at the beginning of the year. I ask them to trust me – someone they barely know. To walk with me along an unfamiliar path, doing strange new things, facing challenges they might not even be able to imagine yet.
This year that path is filled with visual journals – an entirely new entity to my students and myself. They are so eager to try, to fill the pages with ideas, pictures, reflections, questions. At the same time, the uncertainty of knowing if they’re doing it “right”, if they are making the choices that they think I want them to make, if their work is perfect, can sometimes overwhelm all of us.
We’re on a journey together right now. A journey that explores the ideas of risk and perfection, the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them, the joys of knowing that expressing yourself doesn’t have to mean fitting into the box someone else has made. But it’s scary. I’m asking my students to take risks with me every day and, if the change I’m seeing in their journals is any indication, they’re learning to jump in with both feet right beside me.
Allison Smeltzer is a grade four teacher at Brentwood School. She believes in encouraging her students to see the world in new ways.