The title up above sounds pretty shocking, right? After all, isn’t it my job as an educator to want my students to achieve academic success? Am I not supposed to get all my students’ reading and writing at their grade level between the months of September and June? Aren’t I supposed to foster and encourage the mastery of mathematical concepts and scientific theory? Of course I am… but I learned something new today. I have been going about it all the wrong way and in certain ways, failed miserably. And perhaps you have, too. Please allow me to explain.
Today was a pedagogical day at Joliette Elementary School. I love it when we have guest speakers come in to talk to us on a variety of subjects – and today was no exception. Anne Nicholson, pedagogical consultant with the Sir Wilfred Laurier School Board, came to talk with us today about the relationship between teacher and educational attendants…however the scope of Anne’s presentation went far beyond the “rules” and “expectations” for teachers with assistants. It challenged us as team members to work towards the independence of all students so that when these children leave our educational system as young adults, they have been given the tools and practice to be independent thinkers and self advocates out in the real world… a real world where they will need to rely on themselves to deal with success as well as failure.
And here is where the failure part of this blog post comes into play.
Take a look at this video. It is amazing how a 1 and a half minute video can totally change your perspective on an issue. You’ll now see why I want my students to fail…
Embrace mistakes! Take risks! Without learning to accept failure as a natural part of our learning process, we cannot truly embrace all that the concept of success has to offer. Do you remember the first time you had a student who couldn’t grasp a concept and then through your gentle guidance the student achieved his or her “AHHHHH! Now I get it!” moment? Oh course you! You remember because you failed getting through to your student the first time. You felt the immeasurable feeling pride when you “saw” the lightbulb go off in his or her head after you rethought, retried, reworked and reapplied your strategies to help your student succeed. In essence, that student made you a better teacher – even if you didn’t realize it! The age old mantra of “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” has never made so much sense!
Even though a student may not be at grade level doesn’t mean that the student is not learning and making progress. It became very clear to me today that I need to start celebrating the learning process of my students and not the final percentage on their report card at the end of each term.
It is amazing how a 1 and a half minute video can totally change your perspective on an issue.
My challenge to you is quite simple. Let go of the negative stigma of failing and embrace it. It’s what pushes us to achieve. It drives us to become better and to take risks. It moves us towards independent thinking and self reliance. And in my opinion, it helps us to teach better.