Stop the self-doubt. Why are you afraid of your idea?

November 10, 2016

I’ll bet you have an idea. It’s been itching in your brain. Keeping you up at night more than a newborn baby.

This idea is not one of those maybe I’ll try this in class tomorrow kinds of ideas.

More like one of those massive, life-consuming, I’m so scared ideas.

But it’s also one of those Eureka! I think I can change the world ideas.

However, you’ve been letting it scare you. I’ll bet you’ve pushed this idea aside. You’ve told yourself that it’s unrealistic. But it keeps hiding in a corner of your brain, creeping up at random moments.

So, I’m going to wish you another sleepless night. I truly hope that you can’t fall asleep, or if you do, it’s only to wake back up at 3am. Because it’s time to take action on that idea!

My most recent experience was being on the planning committee for a regional ECET2 convening. ECET2 stands for “Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers” and is a convening of some outstanding educators from across a region. Maybe you’ve been to one!

All of a sudden, I found myself on a planning committee that was trying to organize a weekend convening for 100 North Carolina and South Carolina educators. I spent many nights questioning if this was something I could really do. Did I have what it would take to organize a successful event for 100 teachers? I would lay in bed worried we might not even be able to recruit 100 teachers to give up a weekend. Would our programming be good enough, valuable enough? Would we be able to engage the community in our work?

I was struggling with all the pieces that this convening would require. There was a long period of time during which I was paralyzed and didn’t know where to start. But there is something valuable in the quote suggesting you should “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

It was during one of our many planning calls that I finally found myself fully invested. We were discussing one of the ECET2  tools – a toolkit about #whyIteach that would help our participants reflect on what motivates them. And suddenly, I knew my “why” for helping plan this event. I wanted teachers across NC and SC to have a weekend of nourishment where they could learn and grow together. I was finally ready to overcome the self-doubt and dive into the work.

Throughout this amazing challenge, I found inspiration and support from amazing leaders who inspired my work, including the brilliant and supportive Peggy Brookins, President of of the National Board. I’ve asked them to share their best advice for turning an idea into reality.

“Know your audience so that you can start from a place of common ground!”
– Ben Owens, STEM teacher, Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow
"Run your idea by those you trust and work closely with before going out on your own. Shared decision making and implementation is a team sport."
– Bill Anderson, Special Assistant to the Dean of UNCC’s College of Education
“I thrive when smart people get together, develop great ideas and act on those ideas. It takes work and commitment to prepare and plan, collaborate effectively and deliver on the promise of a great idea. Set the bar high – if you achieve all of your goals, you haven’t set the bar high enough!”
– Peggy Brookins, NBCT and President of National Board
“The most important thing to focus on when turning an idea into reality is follow-through.  It sounds easy, but when the initial excitement of an idea wanes, it becomes more difficult to motivate yourself and others to make progress.  Every day, take at one least one action—big or small, even just an email to touch base with someone—to push your idea forward.”
– Katharine Correll, Director of North Carolina Teacher Voice Network  

So, I challenge you to grab on to the idea that’s been lurking in your brain. Maybe it’s pursuing your National Board Certification. Maybe it’s starting a mentoring program at your school. Maybe it’s using problem-based learning. Whatever your lurking idea, I hope that you’ll use this inspiration to make your idea become reality.

  • Know your “why” – this is what will inspire you when you are feeling overwhelmed.
  • Find a fairy god “family” – these friends help you make the big things happen.
  • Take the plunge – stop the self-doubt and go for it!
  • Make the ASK – don’t be afraid to ask for the BIG things.
  • Stay organized – don’t let your Google Drive get out of control.

There’s a wonderful children’s book called “What Do You Do With An Idea?” It is a beautiful story about how to nurture and grow your idea. Because what do amazing teachers do with ideas? We change the world.

Joanna Schimizzi, NBCT

Joanna Schimizzi is a National Board Certified Teacher in her 8th year teaching Biology and AP Biology in public schools in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District. Schimizzi has been passionate about helping increase student interest in science and careers and has pursued that passion by forging a variety of community and university partnerships. To help ensure that all students have access to excellent teaching, Schimizzi has also collaborated with organizations that advance the teaching profession, and presented at conferences including the 2014 Teaching & Learning Conference.