Eating An Elephant: Nibbles From Everywhere

When I was out earlier today, I happened to see a new blog post by Sue Dunlop: one of our Board’s superintendents. It’s a post about facing challenging problems, and it’s a post that I’d definitely recommend that you read. Sue inspired me to leave a comment … and really just a long list of questions (I do apologize for that).

2015-02-01_16-01-12It’s her reply that really got me thinking again.


I have heard this expression before, but I have to wonder about this.

  • Do you ever feel like your sphere of influence never changes?
  • How do we grab a “bite” from another area of this elephant?

I think about those people that I interact the most with online and in-person. There are many commonalities between both groups. These are people that …

  • always put kids first.
  • are willing to try new things.
  • continually look for ways to improve their practice.
  • self-reflect regularly, and make changes based on these reflections.
  • have a positive attitude.

These are people that would be committed to facing and solving big problems, even if it means changing what they’ve always done. Taking a bite from this part of the elephant isn’t too difficult, as I know what kind of reaction to expect. This is a safe bite.

If we keep on biting the elephant in the same spot though, do we ever really get a satisfying dinner? When I committed to my #oneword for 2015 — uncomfortable — I don’t know if I explained the word enough. You see, I’m very comfortable with making uncomfortable and difficult changes in my classroom practices. I will try anything. Even though I like our classroom routine, if there’s something different or new that I can do that might benefit students, I tend to do it. So maybe these changes, while “uncomfortable,” are not that challenging. But new and different social interactions are very uncomfortable for me. Starting challenging conversations usually make me want to throw up, and every difficult discussion I’ve ever had has always been a pre-planned one. If we really want to tackle big problems though, don’t we need to get comfortable with addressing them with many different people? How do we do this, if we always start with the same people?

I would love to know what you think and what you do. I can’t help but wonder if one half of this elephant is being devoured, while the other half is being left untouched. I think it might be time to nibble from everywhere.



8 thoughts on “Eating An Elephant: Nibbles From Everywhere

  1. When you say “eating an elephant” and “taking a bite of an elephant”, I think of flavours. I think of ‘one step at a time’. I also think of stepping stones.
    I totally get what you are saying about biting in the same spot. What if its not about getting to the bottom of the meat, but to take the skin of first (I hope you get what I mean, using the elephant as an analogy). We need to move away from our comfort zone and feel new flesh.
    I once made a post about the road less traveled ( . I think about how you say one half of the elephant is untouched. Maybe nibbling everywhere takes you to new opportunities.
    How are you nibbling everywhere?

    • Thanks for your comment, Yusra! I’m excited to read your post. I think that it’s important to get to these “untouched parts,” but I’m just not sure how to do so. Maybe the answer lies in having more of these challenging conversations with people with various viewpoints: trying to get beyond what we’ve “always done” and see new ways together.

      Miss Dunsiger

    • Do you mean one “uncomfortable” one, Sue? I could do that. I’ve definitely done that already for February, and with the use of some questions, things actually went better than anticipated. Now to look ahead and continue with this plan. Thanks for the suggestion!


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