Goal: Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Part of the 30 Goals, Goal 7

Me and my dad
Me and my dad

Growing up my father pushed my sisters and me to step out of our comfort zones. Needless to say, I was pretty miserable being forced into doing things I didn’t want to do. For example, when I moved to a new school my freshman year of high school my father forced me to run for class president. I didn’t want to, because I was making new friends and I was embarrassed that I would lose. I surprisingly won due to the radical campaign my father set out for me which included plastering the walls with cartoons spouting silly slogans. My dad knew that as I got older I would need to be able to step out of my comfort zone to live life. I learned something very valuable that I would rather have a failure story to share than a story of regret. Stepping out of your comfort zone requires you to do something new that you are uncomfortable doing. My long-term goal is to force myself to try to accomplish tasks in new ways. This applies to my teaching and presenting. After a Twitter conversation with @Aldtucker, @Mccright, @Asbella, and @Edyoucation, I was convinced to chuck PowerPoint and try Prezi for presenting at my first conference this year. I’m nervous! I want to do well at these conferences, but I rather have a failure story than one of regret. Here are ideas for you to step out of your comfort zone:

  • Present differently- try Prezi or doing a Pecha Kucha this year. These links will help.
  • Rearrange your classroom- Try setting up learning stations.
  • Trade in your uncomfortable shoes for comfortable ones and spend the majority of the class period walking around and facilitating in your classroom. This promotes your health and increases student learning.
  • Change how and where you teach.
    • Read this post for more ideas about teaching outside the four walls of your classroom.
  • Teach paperless every Friday- read about this initiative at the Teach Paperless blog.

The long-term goal is the change and determining if it transitions into a permanent change. Therefore, to accomplish this task today I want you to think about what uncomfortable change you will make either in your professional or personal life and encourage yourself to be bold enough to make that step in the upcoming week. Try to at least create part of the plan of action for the long-term goal.

If you are new to the 30 day Goal challenge then you may want to join the 30 Goals Facebook group with more details and where you’ll find support!


Plan to step out of your comfort zone!

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Don’t forget to leave a comment that you accomplished this goal using the hashtag #30Goals!

Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell), Facebook.com/ShellyTerrell, and on her blog, TeacherRebootCamp.com, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at https://www.slideshare.net/ShellTerrell/presentations


  1. Shelly,
    Thanks so much for this great post! This really is a good time to step out of the comfort zone, isn’t it? I’m especially excited by the paperless teaching idea. In a Web 2.0 world, and with all the alternatives to paper, why are we still killing so many trees in the name of education? πŸ™‚

    10 or 15 years ago, my high-school Latin students thought it was great that I had created materials just for them; they didn’t care whether the materials were on paper. But my students today are buried in paper from their other teachers (sometimes paper of dubious copyright legitimacy :-(, and sometimes just paper full of textbook publishers’ “activities”). They know that I “write my own stuff,” but it’s still paper, and it seems so dead, so obsolete, and so 20th-century to them even if they can’t exactly articulate that.

    I’ve actually been working on an alternative to paper- and textbook-based instruction, which I’ve been blogging about here at the Joyful Latin Learning blog. If all goes well, the first version of the project will be up and running at the end of the month. If you have a second, I’d really appreciate any comments or questions.

    gratias maximas antequam!

    • Justin,

      Thank you for sharing this project and your experiences! I have heard this concern before about other teachers still bombarding students with worksheets. It’s difficult because when we learn to teach, we often are taught these methods. Also, many times online activities does mean creating your own material. The advantage is that the material can be ready forever with minor updates, unlike paper materials that require saving a copy to make more copies or revamping every year if they are tests.

      • @Shelly Terrell,
        I’m glad you’re interested in the Tres Columnae project (and thanks for subscribing to the blog and for your comment over there at the Joyful Latin Learning blog. Yes, it’s discouraging that teachers are still bombarding students with worksheets – especially if you look at the worksheets they’re using! πŸ™ Another great thing about online activities, for me, is that beside being “ready forever with minor updates” as you said, they can also give immediate feedback to students. No more filling out the worksheet, hoping and praying that the answers are right, and then discovering – too late! – that you misunderstood the concept and have now practiced an error to perfection!!
        I’m hoping that the budget crisis in many U.S. school districts will help this situation somewhat. After all, the technology is usually in place … and tech. budgets are less likely to be cut than classroom supplies! Perhaps, if they can’t get paper, even some of the holdouts will start using online exercises! πŸ™‚

  2. Thanks Shelly for the inspiration. My stepping out of the comfort zone goal is to get more involved with fellow teachers here. I am a tutor as well as full-time teacher, so I am not available for edchats usually but I am following more closely and will be trying to write and comment more to be part of the conversation! I am inspired by all you do to connect and share with others. Thank you!

  3. THE MEANING OF CRAZY IS TO CONTINUE TO DO WHAT YOU DO IN THE PAST AND THINK THAT THINGS WILL CHANGE: especially as the new year is here it is emminent that we try new things new ideas , change our way of doing things. thank you shelly for sparking new innovative ideas and creating help around the world especially for educators that life can be taken for granted or suffer from burnout. no longer with these new and creative ideas of sharing and highlighting great points of view. keep up the great work keep on being a TRAILBLAZER knocking down the old ways and creating new ways to help others.

  4. I needed to read this post today. I avoid being out of my comfort zone as much as possible because, well, it’s uncomfortable! I need to take more steps out and recognize that the fears I have are generally unfounded. Stepping out of the comfort zone generally invites blessings that would otherwise be unseen. Thank you for this reminder. I am a few days behind in the 30 day challenge but this is one I am taking to heart today!

  5. Get rid of my teacher’s desk! Great idea. All I do is pile all of my teacher school supplies on it. It is disorganized and I never sit down. Thanks for the inspiration.

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