Thursday, October 9, 2014

Failing Loud and Proud #EdChat

I've written plenty of times about failure over the years, but I I feel there is always plenty to say since I still fail and learn from that failure.

The other day, I was trying to show students how to submit assignments using Google Classroom. I have not used it before and I am learning how to use it on the fly. I thought I had turning in a assignments figured out and I was wrong. I wasn't just wrong, I was wrong in front of a class of 32 honors students. My students were working in groups to create a Student Declaration of Independence and I wanted them to submit their work to Classroom. I thought anyone in the group could do it, but it turns out it needs to be the owner of the originally shared document that has to submit the work. All of my students looked funny at me as my attempts to have one of them submit the work and it kept failing. I took a minute collected my thoughts and did a quick search and found the solution. I told the kids that this was all still a work in progress and I appreciate them taking the time to learn with me.

I feel that some teachers are too resistant to making mistakes in front of students. Teachers are not perfect beings and we need to stop presenting ourselves to students (and other teachers) as being perfect people with no examples of failure. We want to push our students to take chances, but we might not be willing to take the same chance in front of students. I'm not saying that teachers should be unprepared for class and do things on the fly. I'm saying that teachers should own their mistakes in front of the class, show how it is a moment for us to learn, and encourage kids to take the same chances.

Students need to feel comfortable making mistakes and trying something new. Teachers need to model this behavior and own mistakes proudly. I will need to remind myself of this and not let the embarrassment of failure be the guiding force in my lesson plans or day to day interaction with students and staff.

How have you failed in class lately? 


  1. I am a student in EDM310 at USA and I really enjoyed reading this blog. It is a relief to know that it is okay to make mistakes. I strongly agree as teachers, and for my future class, we need to reassure the students that mistakes happen, figure it out and go from there. I have always been worried that I'll mess up in class and look like an idiot. Knowing and realizing that everyone makes mistakes, even teachers, our authorities, it is a huge relief. Thanks for posting this!

  2. I am a student in Educ5540 at Austin Peay and I enjoyed your post today about failure. I think that failure is a quality that is not considered important in an educator. However, I think that it is when teachers are faced by a difficult situation, unplanned, or unprepared, and they managed to overcome is when students see success. Failure is only failure when you are not able to overcome adversity. I think that it is important for teachers to realize that they are not perfect as individuals, but that they have to set a high standard for their students to emulate. I will keep this in mind as a future educator.

  3. I couldn't agree with you more. It's that fear of not knowing how everything will work that paralyzes some teachers from getting outside their comfort zone and just trying something new. We've had this discussion in my building so your post is so timely.

  4. Cinema in School-School Cinema is excellent. The movies are unforgettable. It is working very well not only with students but also with teachers & parents

  5. Wonderful post and I fully agree! In fact, it's a big topic for class discussions during the "first days..."

  6. I'm currently working on getting my license, and I'm anticipating a good number of my mistakes as I navigate through this journey. :) Thanks for this post!

  7. This is wonderful Nick and the basis for an upcoming keynote I have. The misperception about failure and mistakes can be debilitating to progress. I take every opportunity to emphasize that our most useful learning comes from our recovery of "failures" and that our attitudes about failure often determine how much we actually benefit from our experiences. Thanks for openly sharing yours and "showing your work"

  8. Thanks for sharing this, Nick. I remember when I first started teaching and I would worry about what would happen if things didn't go perfectly according to plan. It took me some time to realize that when things don't go the way I'd expected, it was often a great opportunity to share my learning process with students. When everyone is a learner, no one owns knowledge exclusively, and it's always fun to get students to show me something new.


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