For many teachers September is essentially a “New Year” celebration.  New students, new work clothes, new daily planner, new schedule…even if you’re a seasoned teacher September is still a fresh breath and rush of everything new.  It’s exciting!

So when is the last time you actually tried something new yourself?  When is the last time you were vulnerable enough to step outside your very cozy comfort zone and be a brand new student at something?

I feel like every time I try something new I rediscover what it means to be a student and a teacher; and while it’s never a comfortable experience to try something new that I’m not instantly good at it’s always worth it.  This year to supplement my 14 middle/high school dance classes I teach each week I decided to sign up for my own dance class.  My intentions for registering for my own class are a mixture of selfish reasons and professional development reasons.  Selfishly, I want someone to teach ME to become a better dancer, and professionally, I know my learning will definitely play a role in my teaching.  So on Tuesday evenings I now partake in an adult hip hop advanced level class and it’s hilarious, guys.  I am not the most natural of hip hop dancers…my body would much rather be holding perfect posture than poppin’ n’ lockin’, BUT! I’m doing it. It’s SO much ridiculous fun.

This is what I learned in my hip hop class last week:

  • it doesn’t feel cool when everyone is watching you and you don’t know what the heck you’re doing
  • it’s much better to perform a new skill in a group of 4 than going it solo
  • a good playlist with a solid beat makes advanced hip hop (and almost all other things in life) much more tolerable/enjoyable

I already knew these things before I signed up for the hip hop class, but I was gently reminded of them as soon as I stepped foot in the studio.  So as I struggled my way through the class I thought of my students and I thought of how exposing dancing in front of mirrors is while a crew of unfamiliar people are present.  How’s that for a dose of vulnerability?!

Because I am living the path of being vulnerable on the dance floor I think it will make me better at inspiring this vulnerability within my students.  I teach a wide range of abilities this year; some students have never done a dance class ever, whereas others dance 15+ hours a week, but what I’ve discovered in a week’s worth of getting to know them all is that there is always more room for digging deeper despite the level they’re at.

charlee-gymn
My daughter is also trying things new to her right now.  From this image you’d likely think gymnastics is her ‘new thing’, but it’s not…we practice every night in the living room. For her, being in large groups of other children is new.  Before her rest today I whispered in her ear, “I am so proud of you for getting out of your comfort zone and being in that large group of kids – it’s not always easy to work with other people.”

I love how much embracing and experiencing my own insecurities teaches me about the teaching profession.  I love how putting myself in the “student position” makes me a better teacher almost instantly. And I love how hard my advanced level hip hop class is, despite the fact that I am most certainly the odd one out! I have much to learn.

What is your newest thing lately? How is it impacting your work as a teacher? Join us in conversation in the comments!

Karley