Thursday, February 10, 2011

Teachers can fail too, and still learn.

“It is ok to fail!”.  I have wrote before about how students need to know that success can be achieved through failure here, but this can also apply to teachers.  As a teacher, it is also ok to make a mistake as long as we are open minded that disaster is always an option.  Recently, I had a fellow educator, Fran, tell me the following:
I have realized that my current teaching style is not engaging to children.  As a result, I decided to create a new assignment which allowed for students to become more responsible and accountable for their learning.  After implementing, the students were confused what to do and nothing was accomplished in the class.  Worst lesson ever and never doing that again!
This comment brought me back to a lesson where the exact same outcome occurred.  Through my experience I have realized that sometimes the best thing a teacher can give their class is an honest apology.  We have to remember we are humans, and as such are going to make mistakes.  Students will understand as long as we are honest and upfront with them.  I know that, eventually, an upcoming lesson will “flop”, as I am always trying new activities, lessons, and tasks.  This is the reality of an innovator and creator.
My concern does not stop there with Fran as she said “I am never doing that again!”.  If you notice something not right and try a new inventive lesson, which fails, it should not justify continuing on the same unsuitable path.  Ideas and corrections can be made from lessons that went amiss, but what has to be kept in mind is “why am I changing in the first place?”
The first step to change is recognizing the problem, and realizing that change is not always easy and without mess.  When disappointment does occur, I say reflect, apologize, and try again.  Humans are known for oversights, inaccuracies and errors, but also for innovation, advances and revolutions.  When our flaws come into the classroom, we need to recognize that there is an opportunity to change this “flaw” into a “strength”.
Always keep in mind: It is not your failures that define you, but actually what you have given yourself a chance to fail at.

1 comment:

  1. I love this quote by Thomas Edison, "I haven't failed, I've found 10,000 ways that don't work." I use this in my workshops for preservice and inservice teachers all the time. They are so afraid to fail they choose to do nothing new instead.

    Somewhere along the line, schools teach us to hide our challenges - whether we be teachers or students. We think that we are expected to be perfect. I tell my teachers that I do not want them to be perfect. I want them to be gracefully imperfect.

    Make a mistake? Make an amend and then move on.