Risk Free Month of Teaching

The post below was posted by my friend Daniel Richards who is a first-year Principal at Melrose High School in MA.  I loved this idea of encouraging risk taking with staff members and think it is the exact mindset we want to instill in our students.  

Memo to the MHS Faculty and Staff

Dear Faculty and Staff, Today is the first day of March which kicks off the “Risk Free Month of Teaching”. During the month, teachers are encouraged to explore an exercise, lab, or lesson plan which  they have not tried in the past. Research has shown that when a student or teacher takes a risk and attempts to stretch their knowledge, success of the risk is irrelevant. It is the learning process which makes us all grow.

Please take this month to grow your knowledge and strengthen your skills in your content area, pedagogy and/or with technology. The administration will support your efforts in trying something new. Success of your risk taking is not a factor, your effort and attempt is what matters most.

Best of luck and most important of all, have fun trying!


  1. Bill Carozza said:

    Hi Patrick and Daniel:

    This is a great idea and certainly fits with Daniel Pink’s point of view expressed in “Drive”. It also reminds me of Google’s 20%-time which gives their employees 1/5 of their day/week to work on whatever project they creatively want to delve into. I am still looking for a way to implement that idea in my school.

    Love to hear how things turn out.



    March 1, 2012
    • Intrigued by this whole idea of time for creativity and risk-taking as applied to teaching and teachers. The idea
      has been tried outside of ed. Oh, the possibilities! Refreshing. Thanks for sharing.

      March 2, 2012
  2. Megan said:

    Great idea. Risk-taking is a great teacher for all of us.

    March 2, 2012
  3. This is great! One of the colleges we work with ran a project like this called the “Weird and Wacky Lessons competition” where they encouraged staff to experiment with teaching ideas in a risk free environment (more about it here: http://tinyurl.com/bnlmjwg). Supported experimentation such as this is a great way of improving teaching and learning!

    March 2, 2012
  4. Bill Horniak said:

    Everyday as a teachers should be spent creating, planning and using this approach imho. Thanks for the insight.

    March 2, 2012
  5. I love this idea! Sometimes explicit permission is what’s needed for staff to take a risk – just permission to try something new, and the safety net to know that not only is it ok if it fails, but that failure really is instructive!

    We work in schools, after all!


    March 4, 2012
  6. Eric Phelps said:

    What a great idea. I think it is great when school principals can give teachers permission to try new ideas out without having the fear of failure. I teach high school math and I would love it if my principal gave suggestions and perhaps even a little time to explore, adopt and/or adapt new ideas.
    I think teachers could benefit greatly from having and being reminded of taking the time to visit blog sites like this one to get ideas and keep themselves involved in the exercise of continual renewal and self-improvement.

    March 16, 2012
  7. Dave said:

    I liked this idea so much, that I stole it and am using it at the Junior High where I am principal. Thanks for posting this idea on this blog, and thanks to Daniel Richards for the reminder that we all need a little push sometimes. The twist that I added is that I made it a competition with the most creative/inventive idea receiving a prize and the top ideas being shared with the faculty/staff. So far the response has been extremely positive!

    March 19, 2012

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