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Come On In, Make Yourself UNcomfortable

June 26, 2010

As you read this, do you feel comfortable? Perhaps you’ve got a really cozy chair, a cup of coffee, some time to yourself. When I think of comfortable I think of these types of things.  Merriam-Webster defines comfortable one way as “2 a : free from vexation or doubt <comfortable assumptions> b : free from stress or tension <a comfortable routine> ”  What I found interesting in that part of the definition were the words assumptions and routine, both of which can be detrimental to the learning environment we create for our students. We don’t assume, we assess. Instead of routine we should be flexible and able to adapt when needed.

So think about your classroom? What makes you comfortable there?

“I’m comfortable with the room set-up. I’ve used it for years.”

“I’ve become comfortable with the lesson plans, no need to rework them.”

“Only 10% of my students didn’t assess well on this skill. I’m comfortable with that”

Comfort does not equal competence.  Now I’m not saying that we should embrace being uncomfortable head on; clearly there are moments when such a feeling equals danger. We should however reflect on why things in the classroom make us feel that way.

“I’m uncomfortable letting the students use the internet. They seem to know more than me.”

“I’m uncomfortable with that room set-up. The students are grouped into different activities. How will they watch me at the board?”

“I’m uncomfortable giving the class different assignments at once. I guess I can’t differentiate this unit.”

So there are moments when we need to evaluate discomfort. Think of it as a wake up call. It might be time to learn a new skill, reach more students, mix things up or rewrite old lessons. So come on in, make yourself uncomfortable.


“comfortable.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010.  Merriam-Webster Online. 26 June 2010



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  1. I agree with you. The only teacher I don’t like is the teacher that doesn’t care anymore, that is TOTALLY comfortable with their entrenched, tenured positions, that has no interest in PD or learning any of the new technologies waiting to breath fresh air into their stall classrooms.

    I love the idea of tenure, but it cultivates an atmosphere of “just relax and get comfortable.” We need a way teachers to feel safe, yet challenged to perform their best EVERYDAY!

  2. kimberlyc permalink

    I think this is important to remember, especially because it’s not about the teacher feeling comfortable but the students. Plus comfortable isn’t always very exciting!

  3. I’m actually very comfortable being uncomfortable. I guess that’s like being consistently inconsistent? My point being that I think what you are saying is that our comfort levels should always be about what is best for the kids, not what is is best for us. Great post and reminders to us all.

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