Still on the Cape for the long Labor Day weekend, we went to Nauset Light Beach. This National Seashore Beach is situated between Coastguard Beach in Eastham and Marconi Beach in Wellfleet. Lately we've been taking our pup Charlie to the beach. When my husband wanted to nap and the dog was acting a bit insane, I decided to take him for a walk. I often walk toward Coastguard which is only a mile or so down the beach. Today I walked toward Marconi which is quite a hike. Full disclosure, I didn't make it all the way there. Once I saw the surfers I figured I was close enough. Charlie and I turned around and ran the rest of the way back. While walking down the beach I took some time to consider being "fearless". I saw lots of swimmers and surfers in the shark infested waters which was what inspired this line of thought to begin with.
After some consideration, I decided that the swimmers and surfers were probably not fearless. Sure, they were risk-takers but maybe some were quite filled with fear. Then I saw very young children darting back and forth with the waves. Were they fearless? Likely not. I'm not sure you can be fearless when you are unaware of impending danger. Then I got to wondering, is it foolish to be fearless? Is fearless even thing we should aspire to be?
What about students in the classroom? Are they ever fearless or should they ever be? I'm sure there are times when kids feel confident and they attack tasks without fear. Some students are so confident that they are unafraid of failure. They know that if their efforts don't yield success, they'll try other approaches, persevere, and eventually reach their goal. Because of their fearless nature, these kids will take bigger risks. When more is leveraged, the potential for significant learning is present.
We all have had students who are the opposite of fearless. These students are consumed with the prospect of failure and are often afraid to try anything new or step outside their comfort zones. When this is the case, learning certainly happens at a slower pace.
What I'm wondering about tonight is how to help the fearful student evolve into a student who is fearless. Are there specific teacher-moves that can set a student up for this transformation? Will a student who is fearful yet encouraged and nurtured in a supportive environment eventually grow confident enough to begin taking risk?. Are some students wired to live with reckless abandoned while others are cursed to be worry worts? As a teacher, I see the power of being, at the very least, willing to take calculated risks. Even as I say this I can't help but acknowledge that I've been something of a life-long worrier.
What I'll focus on is providing all students with a classroom environment that is supportive and nurturing. I'll provide students with challenge so that they're always reaching and striving and the support necessary until they're thriving with independence.
I'm not sure that fearlessness has a place in my classroom but confidence sure does!