“Do you want to be safe and good, or do you want to take a chance and be great?” Jimmy Johnson
R – Right up front I will tell you that the problem with the phrase “taking a risk” is that doing so means so many different things to so many people. I also think the phrase is over used. With regard to music education, there are risks and then there are risks. The small scale ones are important (“I’m going to try a new warmup today”) but the larger ones I’ve seen others take are inspirational to me…
* A colleague who after 12 years in his first H.S. gig decided to leave a place he enjoyed (and who loved him) to see how he would fare in a new school; a new environment, putting to work the skills he had accumulated to that point in his career.
* A colleague of mine who, under the threat of a proposed budget cut ripping into the music program, suddenly did a planned blackout during one of her choir’s songs in concert and explained to the audience when the lights came back up that this is what would happen to the entire program if the cuts went through.
* A colleague who submitted a CD for her Chorus to perform at an MENC Conference, was selected, and saw the nerve racking experience through.
* A colleague who decided on her own to go entirely to a standards based system of assessment with her Junior High program and has established what is a true model for what the future of music education holds at that grade level.
* A colleague who was a former Dept of Education “teacher of the year” for all of Maine, who left her classroom to work for the Dept. of Ed, working diligently to improve the educational environment, as well as the educational practices for Arts educators in the state.
* Jarika, at the first concert of her career, beginning the concert by putting a sight reading example on a huge screen and teaching the entire audience to sight sing.
There is one single common thread between all these examples of large scale risks that occurred: every single person I just mentioned grew profoundly. They grew as people. They grew as teachers. They grew as mentors. They fostered growth in those around them. Risk taking does not guarantee success, unless you measure that success in terms of personal and professional growth. And if you do measure success in those terms, then here’s the good news: your success rate at taking a monumental risk is right at 100%.
Are you ready to take a risk in your professional life? Connect all the dots below with 4 connecting lines only, without lifting your finger from the screen.
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To quote Keene State College’s Dr. Sandra Howard from last weekend, “Imagine the possibilities”.