So I’m on currently on a “put myself in uncomfortable situations” kick. Not sure what brought this on, but twice now in a week I’ve willingly done something that makes me feel…awkward. Anxious. Out of place.
First was the staff dance that teachers and other adults in my school perform every year at the Homecoming assembly. Yeah, I’m not big on dancing-at least not in that situation. I’m all for shakin’ it on the dance floor at a wedding, but the teacher dance has always been an activity I avoid like the plague. Making a fool of myself in front of the whole student body is not my thing. I figure, I probably embarrass myself unintentionally during class at least once a day anyway, so why add to the humiliation by doing so on purpose?
It was so sweet being on maternity leave last year at Homecoming time, so I didn’t have to deal with it at all. Almost every other year of my career, I was in charge of Student Council, which meant I was basically in charge of ALL of Homecoming. I figured that, plus fall cross-country coaching, should excuse me from pressure to participate in anything else.
Anyway…back to the point. I’m attempting to do the teacher dance this year. I still, admittedly, have zero desire to do it, but here are a few reasons that override what I want.
Sometimes, as teachers, it’s good to let students see our goofy side. It opens up conversation and builds connections. Plus, I’m no longer a coach or club sponsor, so I do feel I ought to be involved in something in the Homecoming festivities. And the biggest reason for making a fool of myself in a dance routine? It’s important to step outside of our “comfort zone” once in awhile. Students are required to do stuff they hate, stuff that doesn’t interest them, stuff that terrifies them, on a regular basis. Some are uncomfortable with reading, or group work, or tests, or speeches, or artwork, but they have to try all of these at one point or another. Everybody has to go along with something they dislike from time to time, whether for work or relationships or general life-sustenance.
Doing this dance is my feeble attempt to show students that they shouldn’t be content just doing what comes easily or naturally to them. There’s value and purpose in venturing beyond those things. You never know where that first step into uncharted territory may lead. You might discover a hidden talent or passion. You might create a new friendship. You might gain opportunities you never even knew existed.
For me, this is just one brief dance routine with coworkers, which I don’t expect to enjoy, but it’s yet another tiny step towards a braver me. Heck, I was petrified of public speaking when I began teaching, but I did it anyway. I found that once I got to know the kids, it wasn’t public speaking at all. It was simply sharing subjects I love with others. It still scares me an awful lot, but that’s nothing compared to the fear I had thirteen years ago. There have been some rather amazing experiences and moments with my students. Having the courage to face my fears is what brought me into those magical moments.
So, even if I look like Elaine from Seinfeld when we perform in a few weeks, it’ll be okay. I’ll know why I’m doing it, and I’ll attempt to hold on to a shred of dignity (but I confess, I plan to be well-disguised the second we step onto that gym floor!).
Here’s to trying what isn’t easy! After all, how many worthwhile things in life ever are?