The Challenge of embracing Challenges – part 1

I was looking for an inspiring article about motivation when I came across Bruce Dixon’s entitled ‘The Value of a Cold Shower’. It starts by questioning the kind of expectations we have when we attend the opening keynote at a conference. Dixon asks us: ‘Do you want to be entertained, informed, inspired or provoked, or maybe all of the above? Are you looking for your current thinking to be affirmed, challenged, or dismissed?’ He then goes further using the metaphors of ‘warm baths’ and ‘cold shower’ to explain the effect such an opening keynote might have on us.

Although I am not at a conference at this very moment, he really got me thinking about the way I experienced this year. Warm baths are comforting and make us feel good about ourselves (our teaching?) whereas cold showers are like reality checks that could make us question ourselves (our teaching?).

We all need warm baths every now and then, but cold showers… they’re the real challenge that could enable us to reinvent ourselves so as to keep up with the challenges we face on a daily basis.

What could ‘cold showers’ represent in our everyday teaching-learning life then?

Here are some possibilities:

  • Fostering a collaborative working environment is a current buzz expression in Education, but what have I been doing to truly do so?
  • Seeking learning opportunities everywhere: while students are on holidays, teachers are studying and enjoying the opportunity to become better at teaching (Of course, we also take time off to rest – but do our minds & hearts ever completely unplug?)
  • Being able to focus, stay focused and take actions to achieve our professional and personal goals: planning our career, pursuing our goals and working towards making them come true will certainly help us move away from intentions and move closer towards actions;
  • There’s nothing romantic about teaching: like many other professionals, teachers help bridge the gap between people and their dreams, which is an enormous responsibility!
  • When we receive feedback, having the strength to act on it: it’s never personal, it’s professional, and as such, we should look at it factually and be open to challenge our own beliefs, mainly when we have been teaching for a while.

I have been told that I tend to focus more on what needs to be improved rather than on what is working well… perhaps that’s why: I appreciate cold showers. It’s always hard to get started, but once we do, we might as well have those awe-inspiring moments when we see things differently and are finally open to embrace challenges.

What about you, how many cold showers have you taken lately?

Also looking forward to 2018!


BTW: Thank you RichmondShare for the opportunity to share ideas on this Blog!




Lenora Haranaka

Lenora Haranaka is a teacher and teacher trainer based in Campinas-SP, Brazil. She has been an English language teacher since 1998 and currently works at Associação Cultura Inglesa São Paulo, where she has worked as a coach and mentor training novice and experienced teachers since 2014 and as an Assistant Manager since 2019. An ICELT and DELTA holder, she has presented in ABCI and Braz-Tesol conferences. Her academic interests are Continuous Professional Development, Teacher Training, Teaching Teens and YLS, Pronunciation, ELT Methodology and Leadership & Management in Education.

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