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Pushing the Edge

Innovation 101: Navigating Risk as a Teacher

Navigating risk as a teacher - Pushing The Edge Blogpost

I’m kicking off a Tips and Insights Series dedicated to Innovation Strategy & Mindset.
In this first post: Taking Risks.

Part A – Getting Risky

Risk was front of mind in my Pushing The Edge chat with Michelle Snyder and Victoria Curtis. We discuss three aspects of risk-taking:

  1. Giving ourselves permission to take risk. Working with our mindset is key here.
  2. Getting permission from our leaders or administrators to take risks. Here we focus on the building of relationships.
  3. Taking risks without permission. Here we consider how to protect ourselves (and our jobs).

There many tips and insights shared in this episode. Listen from the 11:56 minute mark. 
(The early section of the episode focuses on personalizing the curriculum.)


Part B – Everyday Risk-Taking

Stormy, Stormy night….

 Let’s risk it – we’ve been stuck indoors all day.

It’s getting towards dinner time. We’re both starving.

We check the weather radar, there’s a few bursts of rain heading our way.

We put on our rain gear.

And just as we venture out the door…. ……it starts drizzling again.


Image: lilli2de

My partner suggests that we head back.

I say, “let’s keep going,” since we’d we’d been stuck indoors all day.

So off we go.

As we head along the main street, it absolutely buckets down, straight at us.

My umbrella is blown inside out. Even with our coats on we’re getting totally soaked.

You know what though. It’s bloody exhilarating, exciting.

The sensation of the storm brings back vivid memories of a holiday not so long ago:

Trekking through a stunning coastal locale – getting drenched like we’ve never been drenched before.

It was, to put it bluntly, bloody brilliant.

The sensations of those moments are with me like it was yesterday.

And those storms (that we’d stepped out in) – they continued right into the morning…

Risk It – Story #2:

Today we’re breakfasting at a local cafe, South of Johnston.

My partner checks the weather radar as we finish eating. More rain is on the way.

We start heading home.

While we’re walking I suggest taking a longer trek home.

My partner though is more inclined to a shorter route.

Ok then (CUE: Greg’s grumpy look).

Just as I think we’re taking the quick route though, he suddenly heads further north.

YAY, I think to myself (CUE: big, big smile from Greg).

He’s taking the longer way home. He’s risking the storm.

As we reach the next corner though, he rounds it.


It’s not the long route afterall.

Navigating risk as a teacher - Pushing The Edge Blogpost

Risky Take-Aways:

Taking a risk can transport you into new territory – where the opportunities for learning are greater still.

It can take time to build up steam though, to take that step over the line of familiarity, to new opportunities and possibilities

Sometimes we do risk it but only briefly. 

We duck back in, or head for the nearest exit at the first sign of possible calamity or negativity.

Dare to stay the course. Trust in yourself.

Sometimes taking a risk means getting drenched, absolutely soaked to the skin.

Yet that moment of drenching can be ‘oh so invigorating.’

It can shake you (at least temporarily) out of the monotony and numbness of your business as usual – where new ideas can be sparked.

Sometimes it’s about striking out on your own.

Some people may be with you initially – then lose their feet – or perhaps they’ve got other needs or priorities to attend to.

That’s okay. Be grateful for the time they’ve worked with you. And forge on yourself.

If it’s something that you’re passionate and vocal about,  you’ll soon have more voyagers with you.

Even better, invite others to take the journey with you.

Sometimes little by little is best in relation to risk.

Just dare to go to that next corner. See that it’s okay and then venture a little further.

Confine the risk and gradually expand.

See your comfort zone grow bigger – as well as your experience and skill-set – as you stretch yourself more and more.  



  1. Check out my Innovation 101 Page
  2. Check out my Make Change Happen Resource Page
  3. Check out my Teaching Resource Page
10 comments… add one
  • Mohammed Monsur

    It’s great Greg, you are storying we are reading, you are speaking we are listening. It’s all about real life literacy, isn’t?

    • Greg Curran

      You really got me there Mohammed, I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re so right. How can we involve our students in real life literacy? How can we model our involvement in it. Either way it’s about accepting challenges and taking risks.

  • Kathy Alexander

    Mistakes are evidence of trying, flexibility and willingness to change allow for growth, and it is all necessary risks that should be taken in order to find new opportunities for learning!! Great thought provoking post! Dare to risk it!!

    • Greg Curran

      Couldn’t agree more Kathy. Trying, Flexibility and Willingness to Grow – they are critical aren’t they. Reminds me of old saying, ‘Dare the Darkness, Let go Eternally’. Cheers for your thoughts!!

  • Alan Thwaites

    Your two contrasting stories resonate within some of the conversations I have with teachers about what we might try out with our students. You can get “soaked” but so what? It is indeed “exhilarating, exciting.” When teachers hesitate to try something because they are uncertain of how it will turn out I have said to them that teaching isn’t like being a airplane pilot. A pilot cannot say,”Hey, let’s see what happens if we try taking off with only one wing!” If we try out something new with our students, take a risk, no one is going to die; nothing bad is going to happen. Even if the lesson that didn’t go that well, you will have learned something and will know more than you did before. It’s all good. Give it a go. Believe in yourself. Take risks. Do that and you will never go stale. Decades from now your passion for teaching will still be pulsating through your veins. It is clear that characterises you Greg. Thanks for your posts.

  • Greg Curran

    I’m loving your take Alan….”Take risks. Do that and you will never go stale. Decades from now your passion for teaching will still be pulsating through your veins.” Powerful words indeed. Here’s to more pulsating passion.

  • Jen Moes

    I agree with the idea of risking the storm. As individuals we are able to take these risks, you could have still taken the long route. It is because we choose relationships over risk etc.
    In the classroom we should take risks but we need to be aware that the conequence on our risk taking on others, primarily our students.
    The idea of always carrying a compact poncho or fold up umbrella when going for a walk is similar to having your ‘teacher bag of tricks’ for those risky lessons that you might have to conjole someone to join you with…

    • Greg Curran

      Fab as always to get your insights – your take on things. Jen. You’re right sometimes we privilege relationships over our preferences…and for sure taking risks does at times necessitate thinking of the impact on others..

      Funnily enough in recent times…when it’s been about to rain, or started raining I’ve just enjoyed it, and consciously said to myself….Just enjoy it Greg. I’ve not sprinted to get home..it takes me back to the time in the blogpost…remembering how invigorating it was then to get drenched.

  • Susie Reilly

    Reading through the other blogs, I was trying to characterize how this story relates to me. I suddenly remembered when I was in primary school, we had many ethics lessons taught through fables and parables, which I really loved. All of the emotion, the pitfalls, lessons learned, hope for the future seemed to connect with my soul as the listener and really sank in deep. Your storytelling, brought back that happy memory to me and reminded me of the power of our stories for students. Maybe stories are powerful for adults as well, especially when fostering risk and paradigm shift. Thank you for teaching me that.

    • Greg Curran

      Thanks Susie, couldn’t agree more as to the power of story-telling including for adults.

      I too can clearly remember storytelling moments in my primary school classroom – sitting on the floor totally enchanted with the story my teacher was telling us.

      As adults too, there’s that point of connection, that sense of a shared humanity too (I feel).


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