What kind of pants do you like to wear? Your comfort depends on those pants. Some really enjoy sweat pants, some enjoy dress pants. What happens when those type of pants are taken away and you have to wear something new? Do you choose to wear that new style, even if it is uncomfortable, and wear them until the pants feel good? This analogy fits pretty well with learning. Think about your comfort zone and then what happens when you start to move into a learning zone. It’s kind of like pants, you really like your old pair of sweats with holes and stains, but you can’t wear that style to work. You have to put on dress pants or some professional wear and move out of your comfort zone, maybe even becoming used to that style of pants.
I saw a comment by John Hagel on twitter that said,
“As we enter the New Year, let’s find a way to move out of our comfort zone into our learning zone.”
and it made me think about how we can encourage others to move outside of their comfort zone. Here is the image that went with the comment.
Many times we have teachers who want to continue to wear the same pants that they love, feel comfortable in, and don’t want to let go. Same goes for students, they are comfortable in just getting information from a teacher and don’t want to move outside of that perceived level of comfort. When we begin to encourage and push both students and teachers outside of that zone there is a good amount of pushback.
When you have the opportunity to grow you can begin to extend your comfort zone, learn new things and share that learning. A great example happened today while working with Kinder designers using Scratch Jr. These Kinder designers have never experience coding before, but they jumped right in, were excited and willing to try on dress pants for a bit. Can you guess what they said at the end?……… “I don’t want to leave I want to keep trying this, it’s so much fun!” Seriously, teaching kinder students about coding shows that growth can be equated to curiosity and willingness to try a new challenge, to try on those new pair of pants.
To go back to the analogy of the pants, let’s talk about one example of students leaving their comfort zone. Students walk in to a room to begin some work on a problem and realize that this doesn’t look like a room they normally work in. Tables take the place of desks in rows, legos are placed out on the table and floor for students to use, and students aren’t sure what will happen next. Now the teacher poses a problem where students have 45 minutes to design using legos to find a solution. Those students’ comfort levels have now been pushed into a learning zone. They have to change the type of pants they now wear from sweats to dress pants. The solutions that students come up with to solve the problem weren’t known by the teacher ahead of time. The teacher has now had to change their pants from sweats to dress pants. Both have now had to move their zones of comfort all because of one type of activity.
…..growth can be equated to curiosity and willingness to try a new challenge, to try on those new pair of pants.
The only way that these comfort zones become expanded into learning zones are through collaboration and courage from both parties. The students needed to collaborate to solve the problem and courage to share their ideas. The teacher needed to collaborate with other teachers to come up with the activity and needed courage to go into the lesson not knowing what the outcome would be.
Many times we are afraid of what might happen if we don’t perform well on an evaluation or on a state mandated text, but through collaboration success will happen. We build up our courage to try new things and we begin to expand our comfort zones. We start to feel comfortable in those dress pants and begin to wear them more each day. There are so many ways that we can expand our comfort zones and building up our ability to try new things.
We don’t always have to wear dress pants, sometimes we need to wear those sweats, but the more we go outside our comfort zone the more we grow. Growth can be a scary thing since we don’t know what that growth path will take. You can really tie growth mindset into growing your comfort zone. Without that growth mindset we end up always wearing the same pants and when those pants become dirty and torn we become dirty and torn.
Do you want to be the person caught with dirty torn sweats and not sure where to go or can you start to collaborate with others and find the courage to try new things, take risks, and find a challenge that will help you to grow?