The freedom of being a beginner

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

-Steve Jobs

 

As I reflect on this school  year as well as the past few, this quote resonates with me. The years have been successful overall and the easy thing to do would have been to keep on doing the same thing year after year in my classroom. But I am restless. I believe that there is always room for improvement and growth for myself and my students.  I try to innovate and do new things each year. It keeps me learning, and it reminds me of what my students experience every day as learners. I am most creative when I don’t rest on my laurels or previous successes, but rather push myself into new territory.

The release that the quotes speaks of is actually a great feeling (to be honest, it is a little scary at first, but stay the course!). When we allow ourselves to be human, to fail, and to be a beginner at something there is a definite sense of freedom. The pressure of perfection and being immediately successful falls by the wayside. I know deep down that eventually I will find success again, but the journey and struggle to get there is so rewarding. It fuels my intrinsic motivation to know that success is out there and it is my job to trailblaze the path.

My students are novice language learners, so true beginners in every sense of the word. They bring such an enthusiasm to class each day even though they will need to creatively seek knowledge and will get pushed out of their comfort zone frequently. They know that the path for their learning may be very different than the student sitting next to them. They have the freedom to chart their own course to proficiency and mastery, and through this process, they feel that lightness Mr. Jobs mentions. My students understand that creativity and innovation will be essential to their success.

Mr. Jobs says that getting fired was the best thing that happened to him. I am not saying everyone needs to be fired from a job, but we cannot stagnate in our careers either. I am also not arguing that students should not be released from our classes, but in the same fashion, they must also keep moving forward. We have to try new things and remember what it feels like to be a beginner at something. The heaviness of stagnation is immense. When you get to the  point of stagnation, what do you do? Do you go back in the file cabinent and pull out the old lesson plan – previous success, or do you reach out to other educators, other resources, and try something new?

Get creative and let that slightly uncomfortable feeling wash over you. It will inspire you to new greatness. When we are released from the pressure of being perfect all of the time, the door to success swings wide open.

 

3 thoughts on “The freedom of being a beginner

  1. I totally appreciate the essence of this post! Learning should be exciting and exhilarating! Once we rediscover this joy and pass it on to our students it spreads easily. Unfortunately, stagnation is a part of our field and adult life in general, but looking through the lense you’ve described it becomes easier! I especially enjoy learning from my students. Each year there are students who teach me more about Minecraft for example. I let them share their expertise and let go of trying to “know everything”. It truly is amazing to see the spark in their eyes as they become the teacher!

  2. Garnet thank you for posting. You bring forth an anology which is completely on target. I have my own reasons for connecting to your thinking around feeling free once changing out of stagnant situations. Thx.
    Mona

  3. Garnet,
    You continuously inspire me with your reflective posts. I am especially drawn to the questions you pose about what do we do when we feel stagnant. It’s going to force ourselves out of our comfort zones to continue learning and growing.
    Thank you for sharing this post.
    -Michele

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