Sunday, September 4, 2016

"The biggest risk is not taking any risk." Mark Zuckerberg

I absolutely loved being a teacher for 37 years, and I had no idea that when I retired, I would become a writer, speaker, and entrepreneur.  

I am a risk-taker. Even when I look back on my career, the risk-taking element is there. 

For more than 30 years, I have wanted to write a book for kids with glasses, and to have a plush animal toy to go with the book;  a special little friend for the children. On September 1, Grady Gets Glasses- the deluxe package deal with the plush bunny (for ages 5 and up) - was launched on and

Being a risk-taker/entrepreneur has enormous highs and lows, and as I am working my way through business issues that I have never had to imagine or think about, I am reflecting on my promotion of risk-taking as a teacher, when I was in the classroom from 1974-2011.

Many of my former students, like most students, just wanted to sit in the back of the room and be ignored and invisible, but I would not allow that!  I wanted every student to be an engaged learner, and students I admit to putting students who rarely spoke in class "on the spot" and asked to contribute.  I told the students upfront that this would be my method, and that taking more risks in the classroom would lead to more learning, involvement, and fun. (I always told the kids that learning is fun- I truly believe it is!)  

Risk-taking in school and learning is essential! Teacher friends, are you asking your students to be risk-takers in your classroom? Are you promoting the ideas of trying learning and discussing and exchanging ideas in different ways, and asking students to open their minds to new materials without making judgments? Of course, the students must feel secure and comfortable in your classroom for this to happen.  You have to provide some supports and ground rules,like "no judgments", positive feedback/constructive criticism only, no laughing at a student )but laughing with is OK), etc.  As the teacher, you must model the behavior of appropriate risk taking in the classroom. Believe me, not everything that I planned worked!  Some lessons fell flat - and afterward,  I shared what I was trying to do with more detail, risking a "normal" (teacher-led) presentation for a fun activity, and students actually gave feedback to improve the not-so-great-lessons. I found that when students saw me taking a risk as a teacher,  my students became more willing to take risks as learners, especially as we discussed positive ways to improve ideas. Open discussions (sans judgments) made everyone in the classroom feel comfortable, and students became more comfortable as learners and class friends. 

Think about it - Life has no dress rehearsal- we just have this one chance to be the best we can be - and as Mark Zuckerberg said, "The biggest risk is not taking any risk . . ."

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. 

Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER.  Many colleges have made the book required reading. 
Signed copies are available Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out! 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at .  The website IS UP AND RUNNING!!!.  Signed copies ARE available!   Grady plush toys are ordered! 

Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. 

Connect with Dede!

Twitter       @dederittman
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