“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” by Woody Allen
This past week, I had a failing experience when teaching teachers about using iPads in the classroom. I was presenting on tips and tricks, one that I had presented on before but this time, a teacher had done something in the process of turning on voiceover that I was not familiar with. The screen was black and on voiceover so it was reading everything I touched. I spent sometime trying to figure out the problem but because the triple click voiceover wasn’t on, I couldn’t stop Siri from talking. It was frustrating and I felt horrible that I ‘messed’ up their iPad. I sent them to the help desk and they got it fixed. My first reaction was, ‘how could I not figure this out’ after all I have had an iPad in the classroom for two years! I later asked the help desk how they fixed it so I would know next time. Of course it was an easy fix, making me now feel stupid!
I had the misconception that if you failed at something you were stupid or weren’t meant to be good at it. I gained this mentality from growing up thinking that you have to be perfect all the time. When I failed at something I would replay it over and over in my mind, beat myself up and build up regret. Until recently when I learned to turn it into a learning experience.
Now I have failed many times but I think failing this time was different because I had someone there that didn’t judge me and that helped me learn from it. The experience helped me overcome the vicious cycle of the fear of failing and the regret. But this incident got me thinking about the classroom and how we don’t promote failing as a learning experience often enough. Some teachers, let students retake a test that they failed or make corrections but is that really promoting that failure is okay?
Because of this new epiphany, I have been thinking about this idea of failure and it has constantly been in the back of my head all week. I thought about me previous classes and how I promoted hard work and to keep trying but I never used failure or mistakes as a motivation to keep learning. As I was reading from my summer reading list (see previous post), Opening Minds Using Language to Change Lives by Johnson, I made the connection how we need to change our words. As educators, we need to fix the word failing or failure in the classroom to have a positive connotation verse a negative. One way I thought of doing this in the classroom was by having quotes posted around the room about failing. This will not only help the teacher remember how important failure is to learning but also for the students. Quotes such as these from Thinkexist.com, are a great start…
“There are no failures – just experiences and your reactions to them.” By Tom Krause
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” By Colin Powell
“Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.” Chinese Proverb
These types of quotes, along with the experiences, provide an opportunity to explain the importance of failure and learning to the students. Teachers can refer to the quotes, if displayed around the room, to emphasize a particular motivational concept significant to the student. This helps the classroom be a safer learning environment where the students want to learn. I think if I had learned in an environment that had promoted failing as being okay, I wouldn’t have been so afraid of failing or relate it to being stupid.
Now that I have had this break through, I want to make sure to promote this concept of failing being okay in the classroom. I would love to hear others ideas. What are ways you promote failing is okay in your classroom?