What I learned from playing things safe and easy.
*Warning. Truthful story ahead!.
For as long as I can remember, I have always done things the “safe and easy” way. “Safe” as in, not taking any risks. “Easy”, as in, came naturally to me. Things I didn’t have to work at.
In grade school, I managed to get myself OUT of the advanced curriculum track multiple times.
“School should be easy”, I thought. I became a preschool teacher because it was easy. Teaching little ones has always come naturally to me. I grew up in a daycare/aftercare and got a job there as soon as I could get a job.
The job was “easy”. I didn’t have to work on the weekends. I didn’t have to work super late. I knew the return (ehem, money for clothes and teenager-stuff) wasn’t as much as my friends who had other jobs. But, my job was safe and easy, so I didn’t care.
It wasn’t until college that I entered in to doing things that didn’t come easily.
Intro to Blindness class gave me SUCH panic attacks. Nevermind Braille class. Let’s not even go there!
My first Advanced O&M Class? You could find me sitting on the sidewalk, refusing to move because it was SO hard.
(Gif of girl throwing a tantrum on the ground). Via Giphy.
Eventually (okay, about 10 years later), teaching O&M became “easy”. I chose professional development opportunities because they were “easy”. I went to sessions that interested me and avoided the ones that challenged me to be a better teacher.
Don’t ever tell my boss how many Early Intervention sessions I have sat through because the topic seemed easy. These sessions aren’t even applicable to my job. We don’t accept babies at our school! #professionalfail.
Safe and easy is not always the way to go.
Something clicked a few years ago.
I noticed that when I attended professional development opportunities that were out of my comfort zone, I came out with SO MANY great ideas!
Professionally, I grew by leaps and bounds. My students’ independence grew alongside my own.
My students are now better at communicating their needs in the community. They have MUCH better cane skills. Their motor patterns and spatial awareness has improved. And, they can tell me exactly where they need to check for turning cars when analyzing complex intersections.
(Gif of woman throwing leaves in the air in celebration). Via Giphy.
Here’s my question to you today- Where have you been sitting with things that are safe and/or easy? Is it in the professional development sessions you decide to attend? Is it in the types of professional development activities you go to?
Our International Orientation and Mobility Online Symposium is not necessarily the safe route. It’s new. It’s innovative. There are new technologies at play. We are ALL figuring this out together.
It’s not necessarily easy. The sessions that we have lined up are going to challenge you to become a better O&M instructor. They may give you a new point of view to think about, new ways to teach, or new ideas to try.
But, who needs safe and easy anyway? We are an always-evolving bunch of folks who know how to step in to the uncomfortable. We know how to do what it takes to get things done the RIGHT way. Even if it's not "easy", we are up for the challenge!
Check out the new presentation options over at the International Orientation and Mobility Online Symposium website. We will be posting the complete Symposium Agenda VERY VERY soon! Stay tuned!
Here’s to becoming better O&M Specialists. Here is to helping our students become more independent, successful, and lead more fulfilling lives!