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Teaching Failure

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It was our first week of school. On Friday a student walked in and asked, “What are we doing today?”“We are going to practice failing!” I announced enthusiastically.

The same student gave me a puzzled look, turned to her classmate and whispered, “I told you this class was going to be weird. I could tell when she had the desks different ways all the time.”

I want my students to develop and strengthen their growth mindsets. I want them to embrace challenge. Т And when they fail, I want them to reflect, reflect some more, plan and try again. Students balked at the activities we had planned for them: create an origami butterfly using only a picture model, list all fifty states and capitals with no resources, draw your self-portrait while blindfolded.

After the first try, we gave them time to reflect, collaborate and plan. No group had exactly the same plan the second time around. Some used online resources and many used each other. What at first was an individual, competitive task became collaborative and fun.

I hope we can remember this lesson throughout the year, throughout our lives. Т Failure is not a bad word. Т It teaches us to reflect and grow. Т It teaches us that working together builds ideas and resources. Т It teaches us to redefine success.


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