The first question we pondered; trying to gain common understanding of the concept:
How do we define failure in our classrooms? How do we define failure?
- Failing grades
- Failure in making a connection or relationship
- When somebody else thinks you’ve failed despite all your best efforts (IEPs)
- FAIL - First Attempt In Learning
- Not there YET
- Give them a chance to come back to learning, make it better
- Failure = not trying
- Grading on accuracy vs effort
- Don’t let kids get discouraged by lack of perfection
- Failure to take risks, make mistakes, see progress of mistakes, learn from mistakes
- There is a difference between education and learning - education is done to you, learning is something
- Teaching kids how to LEARN
- Helps move away from “F”, all or nothing, move toward bigger picture of how you see learning and transfer
How do we communicate with parents? How do we manage their expectations?
- If you are going to focus on learning vs grades, that must be communicated to parents/stakeholders
- Parents expectations can be hard to manage Good grades vs Real learning
- Don’t want Fs
- Some kids celebrate their D-, others cry about a B
- Culture of competition loads this
- We celebrate the kids who are doing well, the kid who is struggling doesn’t get “featured” and they compare themselves to each other, our system of competition is set up to put kids in this position
- BUT in reality, we are going to face this in life - how do you prepare kids for that?
- How do we teach kids to persevere through those difficult times?
- Shift competition to self vs peers - what can I do to get better MYSELF (like track)
- Do some kids have a fear of success?
- Set a standard, work toward a goal
- We fear success because then we have a bar we must maintain
- Standards based grading/redos?
- Can my student get the skill??
- Goal setting is a HUGE conversation, progress monitoring - we have been doing this in special education for a long time; why aren’t all kids on an “IEP” of some sort?
- We need to bridge a gap between fostering a culture that is accepting of failure in kids so that they can learn and not shut down when they experience this - this will lead to more successful adults who know who to deal with failure and persevere in its existence
- Failure - think about the WHY; if you’re going to be intentional to figure out why kids are feeling the way they’re thinking it is going to take a lot of time. Teachers want to do this, but cannot do it alone; it’s too time consuming. From a systemic standpoint, how can we build teams and groups around offering different avenues of success - WHAT does this look like? And then HOW do we get there?
How do we build a toolbox for this?
- Find a way to physically represent/show how a problem can seem so big
- Help kids understand that they have some control over things
- Model failure - what does it look like? How do we recover from failure?
- Want a good model of how failure can work well? Watch Curious George
- Make the students accountable for their behavior, follow through with expectations
- Think long-term, not short term
- High expectations
One of my own favorite pieces of advice offered:
- Call it a “pilot” - there is a built in cushion for “acceptable failure” built into the foundational premise of a “pilot program” that gives enough leeway to take risks and not fear punishment, as well as to fail and be able to work to #makeitbetter
One school board member in attendance, whose name I desperately wish I had caught, shared her "outside of ed" point of view:
- Process Deconstruction - point out all failures; it’s overwhelming to get a list of generalized failures, but if you break down the process and point out the successes in the process, then you are able to pinpoint where the “system” as gone off course - where in the math equation? It’s not total failure, it’s one process that needs to get tweaked
Other tools for our failure toolbox:
- Situation autopsy
- Error Analysis - create the errors on purpose
- Habits of mind, habits of interaction - take the pieces apart to look at; focus on the process vs the content
- Design Thinking Process
- Focus on PROCESS vs PRODUCT
Jimmy Casas opened discussion about the role of LEADERS in a culture around failure
- Find the why
- Build on these conversations with your leadership teams
- We have to believe that we can make a difference
- What was MY role in this child’s failure? What didn’t I do that I should have?
- You can control the answers, you can control how you react in the future
This is truly an example of the "the smartest person in the room is the room" in action. Lots to ponder here...