I have a note sitting in the reminders app on my phone that has been there for quite some time.
When I see it, it reminds me of two mindsets I have while working on the art and science of teaching. I either feel supremely confident that what I’m doing/teaching/learning/leading at the time is going really well, and I have a great grasp of it… OR, I realize how much more there is to learn, and I feel vastly incompetent, or at least, unqualified to have such great responsibility for young minds.
Isn’t this true of all teachers (and learners)? We go through a cycle of failure while learning new things. Shouldn’t we embrace failure as a step in the process of life? Surely if you’re a teacher browsing online for classroom decorations you’ve seen the poster idea for “FAIL = First Attempt In Learning.” True, the word “fail” has an extremely negative connotation: missing out on a goal, not meeting a standard, getting a bad grade. How can we change our mindset to think of failure as just another step in the process of being successful? It’s not going to happen with just a poster on the wall.
It’s not just the mindset of the teacher or the students that needs to change; teachers must encourage this mindset in parents, too. Open communication and showcasing students’ work is essential to show that yes, there is learning going on, and we are all striving to get better and learn more.
As I find myself daydreaming of what my new classroom will look like, it will (by far) not be a perfect place. I may even make a poster for my wall that redefines failure as a step in the learning process. I want to get across to my learners, that I too, have lots of times where a plan may not work the way I want, or there is some kind of failure. I want them to learn (and for me to remember) that if something doesn’t work, or we don’t understand, we’ll find a different avenue to accomplish our goal. I want them to know that not being very good at something is just the first step to being good at something. Teachers, know that what we do matters, and it matters in all the right ways–getting our students to love learning and to be unafraid of trying new things.
In the words of one of my favorite TV teachers, we’ll “Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!”
Keep a song in your heart, and have fun getting ready for the new school year!