There’s a bit of wisdom in J.R.R Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring which the hobbit Bilbo shares with his companions, “Not all those who wander are lost.” It’s a quote which speaks to the adventurer inside all of us. That urge to wander, to explore, to discover what’s waiting for us around the next corner. It strikes me that all educators can benefit from a dose of wandering now and again. As each year begins, we’re given the opportunity to connect with a new group of students and sail their minds into uncharted waters. A fun concept to be sure, but the truth is that adventuring (even academic adventuring) can be intimidating.

Humans value structure. It’s easy for us to fall into formulas and routines which deliver consistent results. Wandering runs the risk of getting lost, getting stuck, or losing that comfortable stability we’ve come to appreciate. The same rules apply to classrooms. It can be tempting to stick with the safe, familiar material we’ve used before, but if we never step outside our hobbit holes, we lose our ability to adapt and innovate. Sometimes we all need a wizard to give us a little shove out the door.

Adventure is Out There

So how do you let yourself wander without getting lost? Well, it begins by knowing where you are and what you hope to accomplish. To help you better prepare for this upcoming journey, here’s A Teachers Guide of How to Wander without Getting Lost:

  • Establish a clear vision. Determine what you want your classroom to look like. If you have this already, write it down and keep it with you throughout the day.
  • Assess yourself honestly. Know where you exceed in creating your ideal classroom; know where you have room to improve.
  • Explore at least one subject you know nothing about. Choose something that intimidates or scares you. This is how many of your students feel. It will serve them well to know you tried something new.
  • Network. Attend conferences and workshops. Looking for a good one? Check out ours! Use the collective energy and intelligence of other educators to propel you forward. Ask them what they are trying to accomplish within their classrooms and what methods they found useful. Finding common ground could be the basis of a lifelong professional network.
  • Have fun. Tinker with new tools, buy new books, attend education conferences, but also try a new restaurant, make a new friend, explore a new hobby, go a little crazy. The best teachers are the ones who have the best stories, so don’t be afraid to live a little.

Don’t miss the chance to wander through the landscape of pedagogical possibilities. Open yourself to discoveries planned and unplanned, then set out on an adventure!

What about you? How do you how do you traverse the wide world of education? Feel free to share your strategies in the comments below!

Content for this blog was drawn from the writings of Terra Tarango.