Does CoP mean Challenge of… Practice or Perfectionism?

Imagine sitting in a room full of high achievers? You know the types who can pore through 2879 open tabs on a web browser at light speed. These high performance types make multi-taskers look like the Terra Cotta Warriors of Xian.

Photo by Jeremy Barwick Creative Commons

Photo by Jeremy Barwick  Creative Commons

In many school staff rooms this is an everyday occurrence, and in the spirit of educators as lead learners, we hold meetings to share, set goals and grow. Like all schools, our meetings are done at either the corporate (Board or government mandated), school or personal learning levels. On many levels I feel that CoP is the new TLCP, as I shared in an earlier post.

At a recent gathering of our school staff, our team of 30+ worked diligently at defining the most pressing needs in our local learning community. To attempt this in a group half this size would be no small feat, and it’s being done in every school in the board. As our leadership team shared previous staff driven ideations, I could sense some anxiety across the room. It wasn’t fear or concern, but something more akin to uncertainty.


The unspoken question that plagues teachers and students: What if I get it wrong? Am I going to embarrass myself? What immediately struck my mind was to remind everyone that if our CoP wasn’t perfect we could always revisit, reconsider and revise our “challenge(s)”.

Think of it in terms of mountain climbing. It’s tiring. It requires mental and physical toughness.There could be several routes to the top. You have to be prepared/acclimatized to the surroundings. At times you move sideways before going up. Occasionally, you have to descend to gain new perspectives and bring new people up to your base camp. Some days it will take every ounce of determination and strength to climb a little higher.

We have to remember that as teachers we need to take the time to try, make mistakes, get messy, reflect and learn too. As educators if we are to truly embrace a #GrowthMindset in our practice we must be willing to fail, fall and rise up again and again. If not, how can we ever expect our students to trust us and try new approaches in learning, or to grow their own mindsets?

So now what? A core of converts are already to climbing their next mountains knowing that there are still greater heights of which to ascend. However, it is crucial we do not leave anyone behind either. How do we help those still at base camp whose feet are on shakier, uncertain ground and raise everyone’s a(l)titudes? In short we need to encourage and engage each other.

Our failings are not faults if they occur in the process of learning. They are merely markers and steps of our ascent for ourselves and future climbers. Along the way we are not considering how to take the perfect steps.On the contrary, we must realize it is the journey that gives us the confidence, strength, and perspective in our practice.

Additional sources of inspiration:

From her TED Talk “Trusting too much on being on the correct side of anything can be too dangerous.” Kathryn Schulz


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