My sister is a Special Education teacher. We had an exchange about trying new things and experimenting. Think there's some great insight here for what it would take to create habits that cultivate a culture of innovation in schools. Here are her thoughts!
My interview with Sara, my sister:
Me: "Hey Sara - Can you tell me.. when in the past have you tried out something new?"
Sara: "I love to try new apps... The last time I tried something new was when I downloaded a calendar app called Sunrise."
Me: "Neat! What made you want to try the app?"
Sara: "My friend was using it on her phone and I looked over and saw this beautiful calendar app and thought 'oOoOoOO - I want to try that.'
Me: "Do you still use the app?"
Sara: "I played around it with it - but found that using my old calendar was better. In the end, I was just more comfortable using something that I was really familiar with."
Me: "Have you ever had the opportunity to try out something new or push on one of your edges and you decided NOT to go for it?"
Sara: "I once had this gift certificate to try out 5 new hip hop dance classes - my friend had given it to me based on a promotion they were doing. I totally had the time to do it and remember feeling this tug like 'I want to learn how to do this!' - but when the class date rolled around, I always came up with an excuse. I would say to myself, 'Oh I'm tired' or 'It's too hard to get to right now.' Eventually, the pass expired and I remember really regretting the fact that I never tried it out."
Me: What would have made it easier to have just gone for it?
Sara: "If I had had a friend to go with me - it would have been better. Both in that it would have made it more fun and less daunting (it's HARD to go somewhere new by yourself) - but also in that I would have felt that peer-accountability.
Me: Anything else that might have held you back from trying out the dance class?
Sara: Well of course- as you know, I used to dance in college. And dancing has always been important to me. But since I've sort of stopped doing it, I feel that I'm not as good as I once was. It was scary to think about me showing up to an activity that's so near and dear to my hear and me not really being that good at it!
Me: So true. Fear of failure - especially around something you're technically supposed to be good at - or something you're supposed to be known for - is such a factor. Or at least it's a big one for me too when I think about my own willingness to push myself.