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Change - Getting Outside Of One's Comfort Zone

2019/08/02

There's an old saying that, "If it ain't broke don't fix it". Keeping things within our comfort zone brings a sense of security, and if things, for example your classes, are going smoothly, why change them? A good reason why getting out of your comfort zone in small doses can be beneficial is that it will help you learn more about empathy, and will help you develop your 'thinking outside the box' mindset - both of which are essential to becoming a better teacher (and person!).


Here are some 'tasks' to try on your own or in the class as part of a game/activity to demonstrate the brain's reaction to change.


Objective: accomplish simple everyday tasks in different ways

Do the task...

How the brain reacts

With your non-dominant hand

Fear of unfamiliarity

Blindfolded or with eyes shut

Fear of safety, unfamiliarity

In pairs for a task that is usually done alone

Pressures resulting from team changes

By someone else to oneself

Fears of personal control and trust

Outside instead of indoors

Fear of unfamiliarity and adapting

Upside-down

Pressures of unfamiliarity and re-learning


Tasks can include: cutting paper with scissors, typing on the keyboard, writing and drawing, using your cell phone, putting watch on, tying a necktie, tying shoelaces, applying makeup, tasks involving counting/sorting/building things, etc. Use your imagination and devise interesting combinations of tasks and methods. It doesn't matter if the methods are mostly impractical! The point is to demonstrate and experience the different pressures due to change. At the same time, it may even give you fresh ideas for games and activities to use in class.


Almost all change requires the brain to overcome fear (of failure / self doubt) and the uncertainty of the change itself, which can be extreme for certain personalities. Change also requires the brain, and often the body too, to learn something new, or to re-learn, or to accept something in a different way. It can be extremely frustrating if it involves re-learning something which under a previous method (your usual way) was achievable competently.


Different methods of change create different kinds of pressures, and the effects vary depending on the individual. While experimenting by yourself or with your class, keep an eye out on how different people react in different ways. One person might feel terribly threatened by a certain change, while another can take it in their stride. We do not react to change in the same ways, and therefore empathy for other people's (students) feelings is important for teaching and everyday life.


Fear is a natural way to protect ourselves by keeping us away from danger, taking risks, and leaving our comfort zone. Fear, on the flipside, also restrains our development in becoming better teachers. Choose which option you would like to do come semester two:

  1. Stay in your comfort zone - keep teaching with your tried and true methods.

  2. Get out of your comfort zone - be bold and try some new approaches.

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