In teaching for imPACT, we have explored passion and accountability; so, now, we turn to courage. You cannot have true, school-wide accountability unless you also have courage. Teachers and leaders must exhibit courage and that often involves discomfort and inconvenience in decisions, actions, and conversations.
One of my children recently asked me, “Dad, how do you define courage?” Instead of providing them an answer, I turned the question around on them, “Well, let’s start with this question: how would you define courage?” I did that intentionally to force their thinking to the surface because, far too often, we all want the easy answer.
Let me ask you the same question, how do you define courage? Don’t look it up but, instead, create your own definition. For me, I see courage as the strength to take the next step. What steps do I mean? That could include any of the following:
• Admitting that you need help in data analysis and asking for that help.
• Seeing the need for a difficult conversation with a colleague and then actually initiating that discussion.
• Finding a new way of doing something at the school and taking the risk – even if it means you are alone.
Each of those courageous steps are real-world situations in schools. We have all faced at least one of them, so what did you do? Did you move forward in courage, or did you delay? Look, we have all failed to exhibit courage in moments when we needed to; however, the key is to learn from those moments and then step forward in the future ones.
Yes, this step is hard. But, yes, this step is important. Courage comes from a resilient mindset. This mindset starts with knowing your personal and professional values but then intentionally applying them with the situations arise. If you would like to learn more about how to do this, we have a course called Building Resiliency that can help you think this through more deeply.
This topic, without a doubt, is the toughest of the series because it could be a series on its own. Instead of writing further, here is a link to an Inc.com compilation of quotes on courage. I love the “tag line” they have chosen for it – “motivational quotes that will give you courage.” They go even further by speaking to the challenge of courage in life because change is hard. I encourage you to set time on the calendar, read through these, write down a few, and reflect upon them.
Your courage is enhanced by your commitment to the cause. If your commitment is great, then your courage will be great. So, as you reflect upon your instructional or leadership practices, look to the cause and your commitment to it. That may be the place of disconnect.