We Learn by Doing

I’m loving the book, Beginner’s Pluck, by Liz Forkin Bohannon. I would love this book even if I wasn’t in a new role. The book is filled with practical, scrappy work wisdom written in a playful tone.

I think what I love most about the book is the way Bohannon confronts many of the false narratives we put on ourselves and others. Narratives that sound inspirational but are unproductive. Such as:

“I’ve always been passionate about…”

Have you though? ALWAYS been passionate about it? Because I can’t honestly say that about anything. Why? Because many of my passions have developed from experiences. From work experiences. I haven’t always been passionate about amplifying student voices in our schools. I didn’t become passionate about it until I started talking to kids about their school experience. I didn’t start those conversations when I was in high school, or college, or during my first years as a teacher. I wish I had. I started those conversations as a central office administrator.

When we say, “I’ve always been passionate about…” this can drive disconnection. When kids and other adults hear it, they may think, “Well, shoot, there is nothing that I can truly say that about…should I continue to wander around aimlessly until my passion hits me that strongly?” Or worse, “Guess I’m destined for a less passionate, less special existence. Meh.”

We don’t need to beat ourselves up over having used these words. It merely made me think.

Or this one, “DREAM BIG!”

Guilty. I do this. I say it, and I often believe it.

And I’m often disappointed. Or I’m stuck in analysis paralysis because I can’t figure out the next best steps to take.

Which is another saying that I’m most guilty of and I’ve even posted it recently on Twitter, “Just make the next right move.”


Honestly, just move.

I love this quote from the book, “You can spend days, weeks, months, even years hemming and hawing over what the best first step is. Or you can just take a step. Any step! A shot in the dark. That shot in the dark will, at the very least, give you a clue about what the next step step is…A step in any direction is infinitely better than standing in fear-induced stillness.”

I love to feel like whatever I’m doing counts in a big way. Like whatever steps I’m taking, they are going to be the ones that maximize and accelerate growth and change more so than steps not taken. Because sure, who wouldn’t want to think that? Who wouldn’t want that?

But dang. That’s a lot of pressure. On top of the harsh realities of adult life. On top of the very real challenges we are facing in our schools.

This pressure causes me to spend a lot of time in my head. It causes me to miss little moments in the present. Sometimes, it causes me to forget to drink water, lose sleep, or mindlessly scroll for hours on social media because my brain is locked up with intense, competing thoughts.

What would happen if we decided to dream a bit smaller? What if our dream was to get really curious about what was happening in our schools? What if our dream was to suspend judgement and to merely notice and wonder about the student experience? To truly talk to kids to find out what school is like for each of them? What if that curiosity and listening drove our next moves?

And what would happen if we kept moving every day with consistency? Instead of figuring out the next right move, what if we just moved and learned and moved again? It would probably be a bit messy. We would probably make a lot of mistakes.

But I bet we would learn.

And I bet small dreams would build big dreams.

What is something you’re spending a lot of time analyzing lately? How might you shake off that urge to figure out the BEST NEXT step and instead just bravely moved?

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