Monday, October 3, 2016

Comfort Zones

                                                                           Comfort Zones
Comfort zones…we all love them.  It’s where we feel confident…where we feel we can be most productive…where we know what’s going to happen and won’t have to face many challenges.  While comfort zones are where we feel our best, there are times when we need to step out of our comfort zones in an effort to dig deeper within ourselves and reach our full potential.  Often times, as teachers we want to challenge our students to help them reach their fullest potential.   We as teachers try daily to move our students out of their comfort zones, but what about us?  We too need to step out on a limb and accept risks and challenges.
I have had my own personal experience with comfort zones and this has challenged me greatly. When I began my teaching career, I was given one 8th Grade Algebra 1 and three 8th Grade Pre-Algebra classes.  While all students took a standardized test, I was very concerned about my 8th Grade Algebra class because they had to take an End of Course Test and it counted as 20% of their final grade.  I knew that these results were going to reflect how much my students learned and how well I taught them.  With butterflies in my stomach, the day came for my students to be tested and they all passed! I was thrilled!  I felt as if all of my hard work and dedication paid off.  100% passing rate!
The next school year I was given two 8th Grade Algebra 1 classes.  I already struggled with doubting my abilities as a teacher and now I would be given another class that would have to take the End of Course Test. Whew!  Someone believed in me and I am grateful, but to whom much is given, much is required.  With reservation, I accepted the challenge.  Someone saw much more in me than I saw in myself.   Once I began to believe in myself, I saw a few more years of 100% passing rate by my students.
 I am now teaching three Algebra 1 classes which includes two 7th Grade classes.  I have never taught 7th grade, so I naturally had a fear of the unknown.  Many people painted a negative picture of Seventh Graders to me and it discouraged me.  I prayed about the move and was reminded that no growth can take place within comfort zones, it is not until we are challenged that we find out what we are capable of.  After being questioned by others, I realized that I was doing exactly what I should be. 
My leap of faith paid off because I love what I am now doing.  I love my 7th graders just as much as I love my 8th graders.  I love seeing their glowing faces when they come into my room and have “aha!” moments while I’m teaching.  Although we have only been in school for about a month, I have learned that I do not want to just sit in my comfort zone, but I would rather accept a challenge and fail knowing that I gave it my best shot than to live knowing that I never tried to be better.  After all, you can never fail outside of your comfort zone, it is simply a new learning experience that promotes growth.
Outside of our comfort zones is the knowledge of who we are and what we can become.   Our potential is never realized in times of comfort and ease, rather only in difficulty, change and challenge.   Although you may love your comfort zone, if you want to grow personally and professionally, step outside of it, feel the thrill, enjoy the moment, and continue to grow. 

Ms. Starlings
7th & 8th Grade Math
Hand Middle School