When I was young I was an extremely shy kid so taking initiative was always hard for me. I remember my older brother being a part of a baseball team when he was younger and idolizing him, I always wanted to play too. However, the one time they needed another player, I was to shy to say I wanted to play so and that is something I still regret to this day because it was a big deal to me back then. My brother eventually signed up for basketball camp about half a year later and the second time I insisted on joining him because I wanted to do what my older brother did. I took the initiative but that time I was the youngest kid at camp and the only girl and I wasn’t good at basketball so I spent the whole two weeks crying. I remember the coach telling a kid to pass the ball to me and he said no she sucks and that really killed my confidence. Although it was a terrible experience for me, I don’t regret it because after that I trained really hard to become better at basketball. I would rather take initiative and fail than feel regret for not trying. Therefore, as I continued on with my life, I found myself taking more initiative of my life, my education, and the things I wanted. I took a leap and went to high school, university, and Teacher’s College at schools where I knew no one because I wanted to be in specific programs at those schools for my future. Not once have I regretted my decision because each experience was valuable to me and it reinforced my decision to take initiative for what I want.
Taking initiative is really important in life. Nothing is handed to you and especially in our society, working hard for what you want is valued. No one is just going to hand you a job, you have to apply for it on your own. Even in your social life, you make friends because you take the initiative to get to know someone, you find your significant other because one of you made the first move. In your educational lives, you need to take the initiative to do your own work or to do your own readings. If you need help, you need to take initiative to find someone or something that will help you find your answers.
In the classroom, I think it is important to get students in the mindset that it is okay to fail. Students shouldn’t have a “fear of failure” approach to learning, they should understand that getting questions wrong are a natural process of learning and that it is perfectly acceptable. Sometimes students are afraid to take initiative and try something new or a new way of doing something because they are afraid of failure. I think as a teacher, providing a comfortable, environment that allows the students to explore different options would help them to take more risks. If they give me the wrong answer, I will not condemn them, I will give them a big smile and say that’s okay and try to lead them to the right answer.
Another important part of learning to take initiative for your own education is knowing when you need help and where to go for help. One of the things my Associate Teacher did at my last placement was hold “Bump It Up” sessions where she would stay inside for recess to help students who needed math help to prepare for EQAO. Most of the time she would ask the students to decide if they needed or wanted more help and stay in but sometimes she would also ask some students who she knew needed help to stay inside for one recess to try it out and then they might come on their own after that initial session. I also took part in the “Bump It Up” sessions and I really enjoyed it. After doing it for the first time I knew that I wanted to do this in my future classroom and I did not mind staying in the classroom during my break to help students.
People have many different roles in life whether it is student, child, parent, friend and each role comes with different initiatives. For example, you might need to take initiative more as a parent than a child. I think one of the easiest ways to get students to take initiative is asking them to help out with something. I found that asking for volunteers when you are with elementary students is really easy because all the students want to volunteer. It is when you are older, less people take initiative like when asking for volunteers for the panel in our Prof 500 class, I found that not many students volunteered. However, when I was ask my placement I was in front of the classroom and I asked for volunteers to come up and show their answer and half the class put their hands up. Is there a reason why there is such a discrepancy, I wonder? Maybe it is a natural part of growing up, to pick and choose your battles after weighing your options, or is it a product of education?
This reminds me of the Ken Robinson’s TED Talk: Does School Kill Creativity.
One aspect of creativity that is similar to taking initiative is risk-taking. I found that for myself, going through higher education it did make me lose some of my creativity. I was in Science and throughout university I was asked to apply my knowledge based on facts. However, I like to write stories and I found that forcing myself to rely on facts to succeed in science narrowed my thinking and as a result it was harder for me to be creative. I didn’t want to lose my creativity so I took initiative and signed up for an English class and a Speech class where I was able to explore my creativity again. Therefore, I think that even if a student naturally loses his or her initiative, there are ways to find it again. The main part is just realizing that it happened and that you want to actively change. The next thing to do is seek that change and in doing so, you are taking initiative.