Overcoming Fear to Teach Creatively

by Tamara Davis, Department of English, Northern Oklahoma College

Fear.  It is such a powerful word.  It is often the deterrent to innovative practice in the classroom.  It is easy to study innovative best practice and much more difficult to engage in such practice – all because of fear—fear of failure, fear of new beginnings, fear of imperfection.  This fear can be channeled into best practice with a bit of thought, preparation, and the courage to jump in.

“Teaching Innovation Is About More Than iPads in the Classroom,” from PBS caught my eye as I was contemplating content for this blog.  I was fascinated by the following passage:

Innovation is the currency of progress. In our world of seismic changes, innovation has become a holy grail that promises to shepherd us through these uncertain and challenging times. And there isn’t a more visible symbol of innovation than the iPads. It’s captured the hearts and minds of disparate subcultures and organizations.

In education it’s been widely hailed as a revolutionary device, promising to transform education as we know it. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as bulk purchasing iPads and deploying them into the wilds of education. Innovation can’t be installed. It has to be grown — and generally from the margins (Levasseur).

It wasn’t the iPad that made me curious.  I own one of those and can see its potential use in my classroom.  Instead the last two sentences commanded my attention:  “Innovation can’t be installed. It has to be grown — and generally from the margins.”  Too often, I believe that our approach to educational innovation is like a visit to a fast-food restaurant.  We want to see immediate action and results.  It is this need for immediacy and quick fixes that can lead to failure.

This article reinforces my own belief that as we venture into new innovative practice, we need to begin from the margins to ensure a quality experience for our students.  It means that we don’t have to scrap all that we do in our classrooms.  We can simply begin with a small change, and as we work through the mechanics of that change, we can implement the next stage of the plan.  Taking that initial leap is the most challenging step.

To further encourage action, training opportunities must model innovative approaches.  Often when I return home from such ventures, networking with my peers and sharing ideas outside of sessions is usually the reward.  While I look for sessions that will enhance my teaching and provide the tools and a plan I need to approach my courses differently, many of the sessions follow the same educational template that has been the cornerstone of the American classroom for decades.  Imagine a flipped classroom for a session.  Wow!  The possibilities are far-reaching.

There are plenty of roadblocks to new ideas, but with thoughtful planning and a bit of courage, best practice and new learning environment are right around the corner.


Levasseur, Aran. “Teaching Innovation Is about More Than iPads in the Classroom.”  PBS Online.  16 July 2012.  www.pbs.org.

Comments are closed.