Monday, 1 August 2016

I Failed Again Today

I failed again today and again it felt fantastic! Why? Because the more I seem to fail the more I seem to learn! Isn't that what we are trying to teach our students, that it is good to fail? Surely one of the best ways for students to understand and model a process or behaviour is to be around others that are role modelling it.

So what stops a person or more specifically a teacher role modelling taking risks and trying new things? What stops somebody dancing in the face failure? 

I believe it is the environment they are in for one, often people ego's make them behave meanly towards others. For whatever reason, it appears ego's come into it and another person may feel threatening when someone is trying something new and so they restrict them and make the opportunity to experiment and try new things difficult to implement or ridicule the ideas they may have. I'm guessing that we can probably all think of at least one situation we have been in were someone has done this to us. It's not nice and it is difficult to negotiate through, on the one hand you don't want the conflict but on the other hand you know that what you are doing is right for the students and you must push forward.

Reflecting upon this, I thought about the times I had the confidence to fail in public and not feel terrified by the prospect of making a fool of myself. Often, it has been at PD sessions, ones where the environment is supportive and encouraging and often I don't know that many people there. But the people there are also willing to put themselves out there somewhat and are always kind and encouraging.

This weekend I attended EduCamp in Auckland. It was Awesome! If you haven't attended one of these sessions I thoroughly recommend you put it on your 'to do' list and get to one in the very near future. I felt a bit out of my depth at the start and a little nervous about how much I didn't know and how much everyone around me seemed to know. It took me no time to realize I was in a supportive and caring environment and it was okay to not know the answer. Nobody was going to judge me, instead they were happy to have another 'tribe member' on the band wagon of pushing forward to giving students meaningful and authentic learning experiences.

On the Educamp session one of the things I failed at the most at was the "Makey" session that Michael Davidson kindly stepped out of his comfort zone to run. I failed time and time again trying to make an simple electrical circuit from sticky conductor paper, a battery and a LED. Each time I got a new bit of information from Michael and improved my makey project and eventually, I connected it correctly and the light came on. Success! From then on people were asking me how to do it and I was then able to help others to get theirs working.

Not a massive achievement maybe, but upon reflection it taught me so much more than being able to make an electrical circuit. It taught me to listen and watch carefully when someone was showing me how, It taught me how crucial it is to be in a supportive learning environment when putting yourself out there and saying 'I failed' and what can I do next. It taught me the benefit of learning how to do it myself as now I was able to pass that information on and help others.

It also made me realise that by modelling the behaviour you want your students to develop it helps others to feel it is okay to show our weakness in our skills or knowledge and to ask for help.

So turning it to my students I will now seek to create an environment and more situations where they to feel comfortable and safe to fail. I will share instances of my failures and talk in terms of it only being one step towards success. So enthuse was I by the whole session that on Monday I couldn't get to my principal's office fast enough to ask if I could start a "Makey" lunchtime club. She was supportive and encouraging and this has grown my confidence further to push forward to seek changes that I believe will lead to beneficial and meaningful learning for my students.

Have a great week everyone, and remember be kind, supportive and encouraging to both students and teachers so they may also feel brave and take risks and share and trial new ideas they may have.


  1. Well done you. I also failed at my circuit. Yes, we need to get teachers to realise that failure is okay so that they in turn provide those safe "able to fail" spaces for our students.
    Educamp is always that cool. I've felt embraced by them long before MindLab came along. Glad you can attend the Edcgatnz conference because it's just the same: our tribe.

    1. Didn't we have fun failing, especially with the robot and ball ha. Thank you so much for commenting on my blog, I feel that I really have found my Tribe of forward thinking positivity.

  2. That's amazing! Glad I could be of help. Any achievement is worth celebrating. It's funny that we get some big insights out of the smallest activities. Great work with taking things and running, let's hope it fails and you learn from it. Trying new things and making a mess of them is the only way forward. Your students are lucky to have you! :)

  3. Hi Michael, thank you for your encouragement and support. I really appreciate that you made the effort to bring all your gadgets to Educamp and had the time and patience to allow us to explore, fail and succeed.

  4. Awesome Alison - Yes I can relate to the whole shame thing, as a health teacher getting the environment right is the only thing that matters. I am currently using the Korowai Cloak Lesson - Google - to set up the environment in my new classes. If they have had input in to the development of the class charter then my students take responsibility for it and they take ownership, making it a safe ego-less environment. One class interpreted the feathers of the cloak as bananas and so created a banana tree instead, bringing culture in they used KAIZEN as a Japanese them with MONKEYS FALL FROM TREES as the whakatauki and translated it to mean IT IS OK TO MAKE MISTAKES...Thanks for the post